Niyaz Kahar

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Uighur reporter and blogger Niyaz Kahar is serving a sentence of 13 years on charges of separatism. Police arrested Kahar, founder of the Uighur-language website Golden Tarim, in July 2009.

Kahar, a reporter and blogger, disappeared during ethnic rioting in Urumqi in 2009. His family announced in February 2014 that he had been convicted of separatism and was being held in Shikho Prison outside the city of Shikho, in the far north of Xinjiang, according to the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia. 

Kahar worked as a local reporter before launching the Uighur-language website Golden Tarim, which featured articles on Uighur history, culture, politics, and social life.

With the unrest surrounding the riots, CPJ was unable to determine the exact date of his arrest or where he was initially held. His family had questioned police and government authorities after his disappearance, but received no information, and assumed he had been killed until they were informed of his conviction in 2010, according to that Radio Free Asia report. 

The family was told that Kahar was sentenced to 13 years in prison during a closed court session in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, though they did not know the date of the trial. Kahar’s sister Nurgul told Radio Free Asia that during their search for Kahar, the family was told by court officials in Urumqi that he "published illegal news and propagated ideas of ethnic separatism on his website. He was charged with the crime of splitting the nation."

In September 2015, Radio Free Asia reported that Kahar’s health was failing. His family was allowed only a 15-minute visit with the journalist every four months. "He is losing his courage year by year," Radio Free Asia cited his mother as saying. 

According to the Xinjiang Victims Database, Kahar may be subjected to forced labor in detention. 

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 Kahar’s health and status in late 2021.