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Chinese authorities detain Uighur website managers

Chinese police have reportedly arrested two Uighur journalists who published online about Uighur issues in Xinjiang, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Friday. Chinese authorities blamed local and international Uighur websites for fueling July's ethnic violence, according to international news reports.

Security officials arrested website manager Hailaite Niyazi in his home in the regional capital, Urumqi, on October 1, according to the Associated Press and Radio France Internationale. Authorities informed his family on October 4 that he had been detained for endangering national security, RFI reported. Niyazi, who has worked for state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, also managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June this year, according to AP.

A second Uighur website manager, Dilixiati Paerhati, has been missing since August 7, when unidentified men detained him in his apartment Urumqi, AP report said. Amnesty International publicised the case last week when Paerhati’s brother Dilimulati, a UK-based student, appealed for his release.

Paerhati’s popular website, Diyarim, has been inaccessible since early July, when violent rioting sparked by ethnic tensions between indigenous Uighurs and Han Chinese who have settled in the area prompted a widespread crackdown on the Internet in Xinjiang. The autonomous region remains largely offline, according to international news reports.

“We are concerned that Hailaite Niyazi and Dilixiati Paerhati, who covered the volatile Xinjiang region, have been detained,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia programme coordinator. Urumqi authorities must clarify their status immediately. Managing a website is not a crime.”

Paerhati was detained and interrogated about the riots on July 24 but released without charge after eight days. No formal notification of his arrest followed his disappearance on August 7 and his whereabouts are unknown, according to Amnesty. “He only edits a website, he hasn’t done anything wrong,” his brother told the group.

Uighurbiz founder Ilham Tohti was questioned about the contents of the site and detained for more than six weeks before being released in August, according to international news reports. Tohti told AP he did not publicise Niyazi’s arrest earlier for fear of damaging his case. Niyazi’s wife believes Niyazi gave interviews to foreign media outlets about the situation in July that may have led to the charge against him, Tohti told AP.

“In China, sometimes even if you are just defending human rights, if you say something a little bit extreme, you’ll be in trouble,” Niyazi told AP in July.

Date posted: October 31, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 141