Human Rights and China: Uyghur School Director jailed for 14 years
A Uyghur academic director and prolific translator who is the brother of an RFA reporter has been sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence following two years spent in an internment camp in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) for “religious extremism", an episode surely highlighting the aggressive stance taken by China over the people of the region.
Ahmetjan Juma, whose brother Mamatjan Juma is the deputy director of RFA’s Uyghur Service, went missing from his home prefecture of Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) in 2017 and was added to a list of disappeared Uyghur intellectuals compiled by the Norway-based “Uyghuryar” Foundation, reports Radio Free Asia.
The academic director of the No. 1 Middle School in Kashgar’s Kona Sheher (Shufu) county, who was known for his excellent literary translations, vanished around the same time that authorities in the XUAR rolled out a campaign of mass incarceration that has since seen up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities held in a vast network of internment camps throughout the region, reports the news portal.
According to Abduweli Ayup, a researcher and the founder of Uyghuryar, Juma’s school was “an early target” of the campaign, reports RFA.
He told RFA other detained educators from the same school include principal Ablajan Mamat and geography teacher Sajidigul Ayup.
Juma was the first person to disappear from the school, which Ayup said is seen as the “brains” of Kona Sheher in the eyes of the Chinese authorities, suggesting that as a Uyghur school, officials believed it to be a place where knowledge outside of state supervision could be transmitted, reports RFA.
RFA recently spoke with a police officer in Kona Sheher’s Toqquzaq (Tuokezhake) township who said that he works on matters of national security and was aware of Juma’s case.
He confirmed to the news portal that Juma had been detained in a camp in 2017.
Juma’s arrest was also connected to his involvement in organizational activities, the officer said, characterizing them as a “mistake.”
“They didn’t say anything about him being involved in an incident, but they said he did things about organizations,” he told RFA.