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.
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.
— Anne Destiny 🇮🇱 (@AnneDestiny1) April 19, 2020
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.