Uighur publisher, editor, and writer Abdurahman Abey has been detained at an undisclosed location since he was arrested by police in July 2018. He is accused of advocating for separatism and religious extremism.
Police in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region arrested Abey, the former director of the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House, on suspicion of “separatism and religious extremism activities,” according to Radio Free Asia. At the time of his arrest, Abey was working for the state-owned Xinhua Bookstore, according to the U.S. Congress-funded news station.
RFA cited an unnamed former colleague of Abey’s, from another publishing house, as saying that the arrest was linked to Abey’s work at Xinjiang People’s Publishing House. The report did not specify what led to the accusations. Abey had a 40-year career writing and publishing in Xinjiang, RFA said.
As well as being the director, Abey acted as a Communist Party deputy secretary assigned to the publishing house, which produced periodicals and books in Uighur, Kazakh, Mongolian, Mandarin, Kyrgyz, and Xibe, RFA reported. The company publishes books on politics, ethnicity, religion, economics, culture, history, geography, and ancient manuscripts.
RFA reported that authorities regularly questioned Abey beginning in 2015, when he left his position at the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House.
When CPJ called the Xinhua Bookstore in late 2020, an employee of the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House told CPJ that she had no information about Abey’s case. In September 2021, CPJ tried to contact the Xinjiang People’s Publishing House via its website but the link to its message board and the email address were out of service.
The arrest came amid China’s ongoing crackdown on the Uighurs, whom authorities have accused of having “politically incorrect” ideas or of being “two-faced,” according to RFA. “Two-faced” means openly supporting but secretly opposing government policy, according to that report.
A 2019 report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a U.S. congressional advisory panel, found that China had arbitrarily detained at least one million Uighurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui ethnic minorities, and others, in a “system of extrajudicial mass internment camps.”
The majority population of ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang are subject to cultural and religious repression, surveillance, arrest without charge, and internment, according to reports. For fear of government retaliation and further abuses, people inside the region are often reluctant to provide information about those who disappear into state custody, according to news reports. According to an annual survey conducted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in 2019, a vast majority of surveyed journalists who traveled to Xinjiang said they experienced government interference in their reporting.
CPJ called the Urumqi Public Security Bureau in late 2019 but no one answered the phone. In late 2021, CPJ called that bureau again, but the number was out of service. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Prison Administration and the Xinjiang People’s Procuratorate did not respond to CPJ’s emails requesting information about Abey’s health and status in late 2021.