Authorities in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) held a 15-year prison term for an ethnic Turkish of Turkish origin found guilty of “terrorist activities” after a secret prison trial, according to sources, who knew little about the state of his health. despite repeated requests from Ankara.
A person claiming familiarity with the situation recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Mamatali Kashgarli, a Turkish citizen and father of 4 children, has been confirmed guilty, along with an acquaintance His name was Abdujelil Abduhelil, during the March 17 trial at Qalghach Binam Prison in Kashgar (in Peyziwat (Jiashi) District of Kashi Province, China.
Both Mamatali and Abdujelil were charged at least in part on Mamatali’s connection with his brother Ahmet Kashgarli, who lives in Turkey, and who was called a “terrorist” by the court authorities.
An anonymous source for fear of retaliation told RFA that Mamatali appeared “mentally and physically weak”, and was not even able to understand the questions posed to him during the proceedings. , which took place after a previous conviction. for the same alleged conduct that was ruled inappropriateness in a rare reversal by a higher court.
Mamatali moved to Turkey from Kashgar in 1989 but returned to XUAR in 2001 to open a clothing store in the region’s capital Urumqi after acquiring Turkish citizenship. He was detained on April 24, 2017 and sentenced to 15 years in prison by the Intermediate Court of Kashgar Province on July 31 that same year, according to a copy of the ruling obtained by RFA.
Mamatali was also fined 74 million yuan ($ 11.3 million) and was forced to hand over the property to pay.
However, in January 2018, the XUAR Supreme Court issued a rare reversal of Mamatali’s ruling, citing “irregularities” in the trial process, including harassment. his attorney, and brought up the facts leading up to the re-trial last month.
The RFA spoke to a representative of the Intermediate Court of Kashgar Province, who said the person responsible for Mamatali’s case was absent from his office and was unable to comment.
“The person is not in – they are on business,” said the agent, not dismissing the allegation that Mamatali was tried in court.
Asked if the Turkish Embassy in Beijing had received any information about the Mamatali trial in recent days, an employee said she was aware of the incident but who was responsible. was in the office at the time and was unable to comment.
Look for information
Ahmet Kashgarli, also a Turkish citizen, told RFA that he first received news of his brother’s disappearance 3 days after being detained and that he reported the situation to Dai’s representative. Turkish embassy in Beijing on the same day. A week later, the embassy staff informed Ahmet by phone that his brother had been detained on suspicion of “supporting terrorism”.
Staff who spoke to Ahmet told him that the embassy representative intends to attend the Mamatali trial in July 2017 and closely monitor the proceedings, in line with formal agreements between the government. China and Turkey. They tried to reassure him at the time that there was little chance of an unfair trial. However, the situation did not go as expected of the embassy representative.
Then in 2019, [the Chinese government] said my brother was sentenced to 15 years … [but] They haven’t given me a court ruling yet, ”Ahmet said, adding that his brother doesn’t seem to have received a verdict either.
“So far, we still don’t know if there is [document] … [The Turkish Embassy] say [the authorities in the XUAR] must show them the evidence and evidence they are using in the case … They will not accept the idea that someone could be convicted without any evidence or evidence and not inform Dai Turkish embassy “.
Ahmet said embassy staff told him that in the past, when Turkish citizens were detained in China, Beijing always informed them of this within a week.
“But then they said that China’s attitude towards XUAR is not good now and they called my brother,” he said.
“They said they sent a letter and were waiting for a response, that the Chinese side did not respond and they just sat there with no response.”
Ahmet, an Istanbul-based travel store owner, told RFA that since his brother was detained, he has written 23 different letters about his case to Turkish government offices. different, including for Turkish Foreign Ministry and Turkish Embassy in Beijing. He said he has also sent help requests to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan twice.
Representatives from the appeals department of the Turkish National Assembly, or parliament, stated that they had submitted at least 9 separate notes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Chinese Procuratorate XUAR. In the case of Mamatali – all of which they told Ahmet in a February 2019 letter, have not been answered.
The Turkish embassy said it finally received a response from Beijing in December 2020, which stated that the prisoner is in good health and that the court will soon notify the embassy when he We were tried again, but in the end we received no prior warning about the March 17 proceedings in Peyziwat County.
Allegations of ‘terrorism’
Ahmet told RFA that he was not surprised by the Chinese court’s allegations that he was a “terrorist”, despite never being a member of any organization or involved in any activities. in addition to activities related to his business endeavors. He noted that during his 33 years living in Turkey, he was not once charged with criminal activity by the authorities or asked for questioning by the authorities.
“From the Chinese point of view, we all live outside [the homeland] terrorists right now, ”he said.
He argued that the Chinese government accused him of terrorism as just “a pretense” to punish his brother Mamatali and Abdujelil Abduhelil.
“They called us terrorists to take revenge on us, to take revenge on the Uyghurs living outside, so they involved my brother on the grounds that he was related. [a terrorist] and is detaining him for that reason, ”he said.
Ahmet said that during his brother’s more than 4 years in captivity, he failed to try unsuccessfully to gently lobby for his release by meeting with relevant government offices in Turkey. Ky, for fear that speaking publicly to the media about the case will complicate the situation.
“I kept thinking that because my brother was innocent, since he did not commit a crime, they would definitely release him, and so I never formally spoke to any media, ” I said.
“Now, looking at the incident on March 17, they suddenly tried my brother in a closed courtroom for a crime he didn’t commit, for things that he was not involved with, I’m angry. angry. Starting now, I’m really going to be part of the cause. I was determined to fight for my brother, to bring his case to the foreign minister and the head of the country.
China’s efforts to brand the Uyghurs terrorists with widespread and worsening national repression have suffered heavy blow in the past six months.
Last October, the US State Department removed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) from its list of terrorist organizations, because “for more than a decade, there was no credible evidence to back it up. ETIMs continue to exist. “
And last week in Istanbul, a Turkish judge denied Beijing’s request to extradite Uyghur religious teacher Abduqadir Yapchan to China to face charges of “terrorism”, citing lack of evidence. reliable, said his attorney. Yapchan has lived in Istanbul for 18 years and spent the last 5 years in custody while the extradition took place.
The Uyghurs and independent analysts argue that the terror allegations represent a deviation by China to the growing international awareness of the detention of about 1.8 million Turkic Muslims in detention camps. since 2017. Detention centers, forced sterilization of women and other policies have prompted the US government and some Western parliaments to designate abuses as part of genocide due to state backed.
Shohret Hoshur’s Report to RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.