Erkin Tursun

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Police in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region detained Erkin Tursun, a television host and producer for the state-owned Ili Television Station in Ghulja county, in March 2018 and sentenced him to up to 11 years in jail, according to Radio Free Asia.

Tursun's arrest came after he produced a program, "The World is Beautiful and Filled with Love and Care," which documented the financial struggles of three Uighur students. The program won multiple awards, according to a November 2017 press release from the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Journalists Association, which recognized Tursun as one of the top 10 journalists in the prefecture that year.

After Tursun's program on Uighur poverty aired last year, his regular show "Hopeful Eyes"--a program aimed at children--was canceled and authorities started to investigate him, according to RFA. 

When CPJ called Ili Television Station, the person who answered the phone said that she was not familiar with the name. She hung up when asked about Tursun's program.

Tursun is detained in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, according to RFA. CPJ could not determine on what charge he was imprisoned or the exact length of his sentence.

CPJ's calls to the Ghulja county's police department, which according to RFA is handling the journalist's case, went unanswered in November 2018.

Tursun has received several regional and national awards for his television work, including being recognized as one of Ghulja's "Four Elite" people for his work to benefit society, RFA reported.

The arrest comes amid China's crackdown in recent years on Uighurs, whom authorities accuse of having "politically incorrect" ideas or of being "two-faced," RFA reported. An October 2018 report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)  a U.S. congressional advisory panel, found "mass, arbitrary, internment of as many as 1 million or more Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in 'political reeducation' camps in western China."

Uighurs in Xinjiang are subject to cultural and religious repression, surveillance, arrest without charge, and internment. As a result, people live in a climate of intense fear and are often too scared to provide information to others about those who disappear into state custody for fear of retaliation. International journalists have found access prohibited or highly restrictive, according to a 2017 survey by the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China. CPJ has documented cases of foreign correspondents and local journalists facing harassment and detention in Xinjiang. 

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