Memetjan Abdulla

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Uighur radio editor Memetjan Abdulla is serving a life sentence on charges of separatism, disclosing state secrets, and organizing an illegal protest. Police in Xinjiang arrested Abdulla, who allegedly translated sensitive articles and spoke with foreign journalists in Beijing, in July 2009.

Abdulla, editor of the state-run China National Radio Uighur service, was accused of instigating ethnic rioting in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region through postings on the Uighur-language website Salkin, which he managed in his spare time, according to news reports. A court in the regional capital, Urumqi, sentenced him to life imprisonment for separatism, disclosing state secrets, and organizing an illegal protest on April 1, 2010, the reports said. 

The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia reported the sentence in December 2010, citing an unnamed witness at the trial. Abdulla was targeted for talking to international journalists in Beijing about the riots and for translating articles on the Salkin website, Radio Free Asia reported. The World Uyghur Congress, a rights group based in Germany, confirmed the sentence with contacts in the region, according to The New York Times.

According to Xinjiang Victims Database, a crowd-funded database that documents mass incarcerations of ethnic minorities in China, Abdulla is being held at Shikho Prison in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, in Xinjiang. According to that database, he may be subjected to forced labor.

CPJ called the Urumqi Public Security Bureau in late 2019 but no one answered the phone. In late 2021, CPJ again called that bureau 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 Abdulla’s health and status in late 2021.