Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) convicted a famous Uyghur author whose work was targeted during a book burning campaign after he was detained. 4 years ago, 20 years in prison, according to officials.
A tipster recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Ahtam Omer, author of a collection of short stories titled The eagle’s child and who has been missing since the beginning of 2017, has been detained and his book ripped off the shelves on XUAR last year and started to dismount as part of his censorship campaign.
According to the source, Omer was detained in 2017 in the Makit district (Kashi in Chinese) of Kashgar province (Maigaiti), a month after his brother Anwar Omer and nephew Iskander Omer.
“Ahtam Omer was detained and removed from his home on March 12, 2017,” said the unnamed source, out of fear of retaliation. “The rationale for this, the reason given at the time, was that he sent his brother’s son to study in Egypt and sent him money.”
Egypt is among the countries blacklisted by the government in XUAR for Uyghur travel because of the danger of spreading Islamic extremism.
The source said Omer’s literary work was stopped during a police investigation of his activities, after which he was charged with “secession” and sentenced to prison in a secret trial at capital XUAR Urumqi at the end of 2018.
In an attempt to verify the claims, RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke to a representative from the office where he worked in Urumqi – the Studio and the Tianshan Circus – who declined to comment on his case. me.
A village official in the town of Tumental, Omer’s hometown, said that not only did she not know him, but also knew nothing about the fate of his brother and nephew.
RFA sources also claimed that a number of Omer’s works, incl The eagle’s child, was burned by the authorities in the summer of 2020.
“I recently heard that Ahtam Omer’s book has been burned,” said the source. “I found a picture of the book fire online. In the picture, I see Ahtam Omer’s book The eagle’s child among the books are being burned. “
According to the source, Child of the Eagle has had a significant impact on Uyghur society because of its focus on liberal themes and fighting spirit. The story was originally published in Chinese national literature, a national-level magazine, and as a result have long ago shunned any official criticism.
However, in 2017, when the wave of “looking into the past” began in XUAR, including the literary realm, a number of books were accused of containing “separatist content”. The eagle’s child are among these books, and the author will ultimately be held accountable.
The campaign began around the time the regional government began detaining an estimated 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast system of regional detention centers. field. While Beijing initially denied the existence of these camps, China in 2019 changed its strategy and began to describe these facilities as “boarding schools” that provided vocational training for the Uyghurs, prevent radicalization and help protect the country from terrorism.
But the RFA and other media reports indicate that people in camps detained against their will and subjected to political manipulation, often face brutal treatment under the table. hands of their supervisors and endure poor diet and unhygienic conditions in often overcrowded facilities. Former detainees have also described torture, rape, sterilization, and other mistreatment while in detention.
According to the source, Misha village in the Peyziwat (Jiashi) district of Kashgar is one of the places The eagle’s child was burned, under the supervision of the political and legal office of the village party committee and the village police station.
In a phone interview, a police officer in Misha Village told RFA the names of two police officers who were present in the book burning.
“Alimjan and Nabijan,” said the officer, when asked who supervised the action.
“There are four people, two policemen and two police assistants.”
The same officer declined to comment on why and under whose direction the book was burned. However, he asserted that Omer’s book was indeed the target of the burning, just as the author is under state detention.
“I can’t answer this question for you – the head will have to answer it for you,” he said initially, when asked if Omer was being held in custody for The eagle’s child.
But when asked if RFA could report that he did not know about Omer’s detention and conviction, the official replied: “We know about that.”
The verdict has been confirmed
The RFA also spoke with an officer from a village in the town of Tumental, who confirmed that both Omer and his nephew had been convicted.
Thirteen years, when asked how long Iskander Omer was sentenced after he returned from Egypt, the policeman said.
When asked about how long Ahtam Omer was sentenced, the official replied, “20 years”, adding that the author was targeted for “illegal gathering and illegal religious activity.”
“[He wasn’t] directly participate, [but] everyone who is in contact with [Iskander Omer] has been sentenced, ”he said.
Last month, the Newlines Institute of Strategy and Policy released a report saying that China had expressed an “intention to destroy” the Uyghur minority, and therefore was responsible for the state for genocide, in the first independent report investigating claims of abuse in XUAR.
The report takes into account the mass internship campaign, as well as other government policies such as government-authorized accommodation, mass birth prevention strategies, and forced transfer of Uyghur children to homestay facilities. the country governs, undermines the Uyghur identity and selectively targets other intellectuals and leaders as evidence of its intentions to destroy the ethnic group.
The US government determined in January that violations of rights in the region could lead to genocide – a trademark similarly adopted by the parliaments of Canada, the Netherlands, and the UK.
Shohret Hoshur’s Report to RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.