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Call for Information on Uyghur Writer’s Safety

August 24, 2007

Human Rights in China (HRIC) calls on the Chinese government to provide confirmation of the safety and present condition of imprisoned Uyghur writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin.

HRIC has received unconfirmed reports that Yasin has been tortured to death in prison, and attempts by exiled Uyghur groups to contact his wife and mother have been unsuccessful. HRIC calls on foreign embassies based in Beijing as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to raise his case and request an urgent visit with Yasin to provide independent verification of the writer’s physical condition.

It is the obligation of the Chinese government to respond transparently and promptly to allegations of torture by confirming the safety of individual detainees and to take steps to investigate and address cases where torture exists.

As UN Special Rapporteur Manfred Nowak documented after his visit to China in December 2005, torture remains widespread in China. It is the obligation of the Chinese government to respond transparently and promptly to allegations of torture by confirming the safety of individual detainees and to take steps to investigate and address cases where torture exists.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin, 33, is married with two children, and is known for his many poems, essays and short stories, some of which have been translated for use in Uyghur-language middle school text books. The publication of his short story "Wild Pigeon" ("Yawa Kepter") in the Uyghur-language Kashgar Literature Journal in November 2004 led to Yasin’s arrest on November 29, 2004. The Chinese authorities alleged that in "Wild Pigeon," which had been widely circulated and recommended for an award by a major Uyghur literary website, Yasin was "inciting to split the state." At the time of Yasin’s detention, authorities also seized his personal computer, which contained more than 1,600 poems, short stories and an uncompleted novel.

At a closed trial in February 2005, the Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court found Yasin guilty of inciting separatism and sentenced him to 10 years in prison; his appeal was denied. On May 19, 2005, he was transferred to Urumqi No. 1 Prison, and has not been permitted any visitors.

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