Uighur reporter and blogger Niyaz Kahar was taken into police custody in 2009 and reportedly sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment on charges of separatism, but the date of his arrest and trial are not known, and CPJ could not determine his whereabouts in 2022.
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. He disappeared during July 2009 ethnic rioting in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
In 2014, U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia reported that he was being held in Shikho Prison – which Chinese authorities call Wusu – outside the city of Shikho, in the far north of Xinjiang. His family was told that he had been sentenced in a closed trial to 13 years in prison for “the crime of splitting the nation" because he "published illegal news and propagated ideas of ethnic separatism on his website.” The family was not given any information about the date of his conviction or a possible release date.
In 2015, Radio Free Asia reported that Kahar’s health was failing and his family were allowed only brief, infrequent visits. According to the Xinjiang Victims Database, a crowd-funded database that documents mass incarcerations of ethnic minorities in China, he may have been subject to forced labor.
The majority population of ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang are subject to cultural and religious repression, surveillance, arrest without charge, and internment.
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 commission’s 2022 report noted that China has continued to expand Xinjiang’s detention facilities, including mass internment camps, and maintained a system of forced labor involving camp detainees.
CPJ sent messages in September 2022 to the Xinjiang governmental service and the Xinjiang region prison administration via messaging app seeking information about Kahar’s whereabouts but did not receive a response.