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Uyghurs Harassed During Visit

Authorities in China’s restive Xinjiang region detained and harassed several families of missing Uyghurs during the visit of a Turkish opposition leader last week, according to local sources.Security measures put in place during the Jan. 17-18 visit by Kemal K?l?cdaroglu to the Xinjiang capital Urumqi specifically targeted the families of those who had been disappeared in the aftermath of deadly ethnic violence between Han Chinese and Uyghurs on July 5, 2009, the sources said.The measures, they said, were intended to prevent the families from highlighting the plight of their missing loved ones to the visiting politician or journalists or officials accompanying him.One widow was taken by officials for a long ride outside the city apparently to help her retrieve some savings from a bank while other families were held under police detention or confined to their homes. Widow Patigul Ghulam, whose son Imammemet Eli, 25, was taken by police on July 14, 2009, said that families like hers had been bullied, insulted and humiliated by authorities during the visit by K?l?cdaroglu, whose country is home to a substantial Uyghur population.“On the morning of Jan. 17, I was taken from my home by the police chief and an official who said they would help me to retrieve my money from the bank,” she told RFA’s Uyghur Service, referring to the 5,000 yuan (U.S. $800) that her son had earlier stored in a bank account for a family emergency.Patigul Ghulham said that she had been unable to withdraw the money after her son went missing because she had forgotten the account PIN number. She had requested help from the authorities several times before but had received no response.She said Bahuliang Police Station chief Abduweli and neighborhood ruling Chinese Communist Party chief Ruqiye drove her outside Urumqi, claiming that the bank which had agreed to allow her to withdraw the funds was located “far away.” When Patigul Ghulham became suspicious and called her home, her 19-year-old daughter Mihrigul Eli told her that authorities had encircled the family’s apartment building, located in the Dabaza district of Urumqi, with more than a dozen police cars. Mihrigul Eli, 23, tried to go shopping but police pushed her back into the building’s yard.When Patigul Ghulham demanded to be returned home, threatening to “break the car windows if I have to,” Abduweli and Ruqiye took her to her apartment building where she could see that her children had reentered their home, but would not allow her to see them, instead taking her to the police station.Families detainedSeveral family members of Uyghurs who had been disappeared by the authorities were at the station when she arrived, Patigul Ghulham said. They were begging for the release of their relatives who they believe were being held by the police.“I was released along with the other detainees at midnight,” she said, identifying among them as Tuqiz, Aypasha and Meremnisa—the wives of Muhter Mehet, Zakir Memet and Memtimin Yasin, “all of whom had disappeared after July 5, 2009.”“The three mothers had been detained with their seven children, aged from 3-15 years old.”Patigul Ghulham said the group asked the police officers what they had done to be detained and the police said they did not know, only that they had “acted according to orders.”But she said that the harassment did not end there.“The next day, Jan. 18, the police knocked on my door at 6:00 a.m. and four officers entered, saying they had been tasked with watching my family for the day,” she said.“When I asked why, the police said that they did not know, but the previous evening I saw on the evening news that Turkish opposition leader Kemal K?l?cdaroglu had visited Beijing and was visiting Urumqi that day.”She asked the officers if they were trying to prevent her from meeting with the politician.“They said, ‘If you already know the answer, don’t ask us about it.’”Patigul Ghulham said that the four officers remained in the apartment for the entire day with additional police stationed outside the building, preventing her children from going to work.She said that shortly after K?l?cdaroglu left the airport in Urumqi, her family was permitted to leave their apartment and the surveillance was ended.Turkish relationsPatigul Ghulham, a prominent Uyghur petitioner, was also subjected to detention and police harassment during a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Urumqi last year.Following his visit, she published an open letter on RFA’s website in Uyghur, pleading with the prime minister to help her learn whether her son was alive or dead and informing him of the similar situation that she said more than 100 Uyghur families in Xinjiang also faced with regard to missing loved ones.Patigul Ghulham also wrote an open letter to K?l?cdaroglu last week, urging the opposition leader not to believe the “lies” that the Chinese government had told him during his visit about its policies in Xinjiang.“Don’t believe anything. They were lying to you. The Chinese government has taken away all of the human rights of the Uyghurs and are trying to eradicate the Uyghurs from this world,” she told RFA, relating the letter she had written.“They want our land, not our people. What my family has experienced over the past three years is only one example of such intent.”Kemal K?l?cdaroglu began his trip to China on Jan. 12 and concluded it with a visit to the Xinjiang region from Jan. 17-18 and a speech at Xinjiang University.When contacted by RFA’s Uyghur Service about K?l?cdaroglu’s visit, Urumqi Deputy Chief of Police Ablet acknowledged that the city had tightened security during the opposition leader’s visit, but refused to provide details.Following ordersAfter speaking with Patigul Ghulham about her ordeal, RFA’s Uyghur Service was able to contact three other Uyghur families who reported similar harassment by city authorities during K?l?cdaroglu’s visit.Aypasha, one of the women who were detained along with their children at the police station, said the group had made an appointment 10 days earlier to meet with the petitioner’s office on Jan. 17 about their missing family members.“[The police] started to push us as we approached the station. One officer kicked me in the back and pushed me into the police car. Another one threw my 7-year-old daughter into the car,” she said.“We three mothers and seven children were loaded into the car by force like animals. They took us to Bahuliang Police Station and detained us in an underground room used for interrogations until midnight.”All of the women and children were injured during the incident, Aypasha said, but none of them received any medical attention from the authorities.The fathers of two other Uyghurs who had disappeared following the 2009 Urumqi violence told RFA’s Uyghur Service that their families had also been prevented from leaving their homes during K?l?cdaroglu’s visit.Helaji, whose son Alim Helaji is missing, said he was told to “close my [fruit stand] business for three days and not to go outside.”“Officials promised to pay me 500 yuan (U.S. $80) compensation for my business.”Barat, who is missing his son Memet Barat, said he had received the same order from authorities for his scarf stall.When contacted by RFA, Officer Dilmurat from the Bahuliang Police Station acknowledged that he had assisted in detaining the three women and their children. But he denied beating them, saying that he had simply “educated them about the law” and “only followed the orders of my superiors.”Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Shohret Hoshur. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
Source: RFA News Headlines

Graft 'Spot Checks' Launched

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has announced a series of spot checks on its high-ranking officials in a bid to combat corruption, while a top official in southern Guangzhou city has vowed to declare his assets amid calls for more transparency.The checks would include verification of individual officials’ sources of income, the assets held by their family members, and their immigration status in foreign countries, Hong Kong’s Party-backed Wen Wei Po newspaper said on Thursday.The decision was taken at the second plenary meeting of the Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection in Beijing on Wednesday, and comes as the new Party leadership under president-in-waiting Xi Jinping seeks to send a clear signal on graft, the paper said.Veteran journalist Zan Aizong said Xi’s anti-corruption speech after he was chosen as the Party’s general secretary at the 18th Congress in November marked the launch of an anti-corruption campaign nationwide.”From the point of view of the Communist Party, it can’t get any further with reforms, so the only thing it has left to bolster its legitimacy in government is the fight against corruption,” Zan said.”This is also an urgent demand from the general public.”Powerful backingBut Zan said that anyone who was pursued for graft would likely be selected for the proposed “spot” checks because they lacked powerful enough backing higher up in the Party, not because they were a genuinely random selection.”Those without backing will definitely be sacrificed,” he said. “But those who have backing will also be worried.”Many officials were now looking to get out to a Western country where the rule of law is fairly robust, and beyond the reach of the Chinese legal system, he said.”One by one, they are getting out,” Zan said.Reports of corrupt officials have continued to surface online.Last week, netizens reacted angrily to reports that a municipal level official from the northern province of Shanxi, Zhang Yan, had managed to obtain household registration documents in Beijing and Shanxi, an option that would be impossible, though highly desirable, for ordinary Chinese seeking to move into urban areas to find work without losing their entitlement to public services.Some officials appear to be trying to maneuver to stay ahead of the game, however.Family assetsA high-ranking official in Guangzhou’s municipal political advisory body, Fan Songqing, recently offered to disclose details of his and his family’s personal assets.Fan told RFA’s Cantonese service that he felt anxious after making the pledge, however.”It’s hard to say what about; it’s a sort of nameless anxiety, a psychological pressure,” Fan said. “No-one has openly criticized me, and the other delegates have only debated it, not put pressure on me.”He called on China’s leadership to lead by example, if they wanted more officials to follow suit.”This definitely has to come from the Party center,” he said. “I think China’s leaders should take the lead, because we all claim that the Communist Party represents the people, and shouldn’t have special privileges.””That would give the people some hope.”Guangzhou-based rights lawyer Tang Jingling, who recently signed an open letter calling on more than 200 of China’s most powerful officials to declare their assets, said there was nothing stopping them from doing so right now.”The best thing they could do would be to come clean and declare theirs and their relatives’ assets publicly.”Reported by Yang Fan for RFA’s Mandarin service, and by Grace Kei Lai-see for the Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
Source: RFA News Headlines