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Uyghur taxi driver and his mother jailed in China for transporting imam

Demonstrators take part in a demonstration against human rights violations of China on 27 December 2019 [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]
People gather to stage a demonstration in support of Uyghurs and against the human rights violations of China on 27 December 2019 [Abdulhamid Hoşbaş/Anadolu Agency]

The authorities in Ghulja in China’s Xinjiang province, sentenced a local Uyghur taxi driver to at least 16 years in prison last year for transporting an “illegal” religious person, Radio Free Asia (RFA) has revealed. His mother was also jailed, for 10 years.

Shireli Memtili, a 28-year-old father of two, was sentenced to “200 months” in jail in May 2019 for driving what was likely to have been a non-state-sanctioned imam, and receiving illegal religious education from him, members of his family told RFA’s Uyghur service in a special interview.

His family members were informed about his imprisonment when they contacted officials at their local community administrative centre. There was apparently no public trial for the taxi driver.

China was appointed to a UN Human Rights Council panel this month to investigate human rights regarding freedom of speech, health, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention. This has sparked protests by international human rights activists.

READ: Not all Uyghurs are terrorists, Turkey tells China

According to activist and researcher Ayjaz Wani from Mumbai’s Observer Research Foundation, the news of the appointment has come, ironically, at a time when China has been accused of ever more abuses of the human rights of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. “This has also increased forced organ harvesting of the minority Muslim community to save the lives of the coronavirus-infected Han population,” he claimed.

The authorities in China are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs in a network of internment camps since April 2017. They and other Muslim minorities are accused of holding “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas.

READ:  China ‘promotes repentance’ in Uyghur prison camps, leaked reports show

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