Uighur journalist goes on trial in China a year after unrest

New York, July 22, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Chinese government to dismiss charges against Gheyret Niyaz, a Uighur journalist and website manager, and release him from prison. According to the Uyghur American Association (UAA), Niyazi will be tried in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on July 28.

As CPJ reported October 2009, Niyaz faces charges of “endangering state security” stemming from ethnic unrest in Xinjiang in July 2009. Niyaz, who had worked for state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, also managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. Authorities have blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region.

Gheyret Niyaz is being tried for his work as a journalist—that is the only threat he has made to China’s ‘state security,’” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call on the authorities to drop these trumped-up charges and to free Niyaz immediately.”  

On August 7, 2009, a second Uighur website manager, authorities detained Dilixiati Paerhati. His website, Diyarim, was shut down in July 2009. Until now, CPJ has been unable to determine where the men were being held. The whereabouts of Paerhati are still unclear.

According to a statement released today by the UAA, “Chinese officials accused Uighurbiz and other Uyghur-run websites of inciting protests and violence on July 5, 2009, because in the days leading up to July 5, they had announced plans for the July 5 peaceful demonstration that took place at People’s Square.”