The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the detention of Abdulghani Memetemin, a writer, teacher, and translator from the northwestern Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. CPJ recently learned that Memetemin, who had actively advocated for the Uighur ethnic group in Xinjiang, has been detained since 2002 on charges of “sending secret state information out of the country.”
Police arrested Memetemin in Kashgar, a city in Xinjiang, on July 26, 2002. In June 2003, Kashgar Intermediate People’s Court convicted him of “violating state secrets and sending them outside the country” and sentenced him to nine years in prison, plus an additional three years of suspended political rights. Radio Free Asia provided CPJ with court documents listing 18 specific counts against Memetemin, including translating state news articles into Chinese from Uighur, forwarding official speeches to the Germany-based East Turkistan Information Center (ETIC), a news outlet advocating for an independent state for the Uighur ethnic group, and conducting original reporting for the center. The court also accused him of recruiting additional reporters for ETIC, which is banned in China.
Forty-year-old Memetemin did not have legal representation at his trial and has not been in contact with his wife or children since his arrest. His harsh punishment reflects the ongoing and near total suppression of the spread of information in Xinjiang.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ calls for Abdulghani Memetemin’s immediate release. We respectfully remind Your Excellency that the Chinese Constitution protects the peaceful expression of political views by people in all regions, and that Memetemin was doing nothing more than practicing this right.
Thank you for your attention to these urgent matters. We await your response.