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Uighur journalist goes on trial in China a year after unrest

Muslim ethnic Uighur women pass a Chinese paramilatary police on patrol on a street in Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang region on July 3, 2010 ahead of the first anniversary of bloody violence that erupted between the region's Muslim ethnic Uighurs and members of China's majority Han ethnicity. The government says nearly 200 people were killed and about 1,700 injured in the unrest, China's worst ethnic violence in decades, with Han making up most of the victims.

The Chinese government is all set to press charges against Gheyret Niyaz, a Uighur journalist and website manager. According to the Uyghur American Association (UAA), Niyazi will be tried in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far-western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region on July 28.

Niyaz faces charges of “endangering state security” stemming from ethnic unrest in Xinjiang in July 2009, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had reported. Niyaz, who had worked for state newspapers Xinjiang Legal News and Xinjiang Economic Daily, also managed and edited the website Uighurbiz until June 2009. Authorities have blamed local and international Uighur sites for fueling the violence between Uighurs and Han Chinese in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region.

“Gheyret Niyaz is being tried for his work as a journalist—that is the only threat he has made to China’s ‘state security,’” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator. “We call on the authorities to drop these trumped-up charges and to free Niyaz immediately.”

On August 7, 2009, a second Uighur website manager, authorities detained Dilixiati Paerhati. His website, Diyarim, was shut down in July 2009. Until now, CPJ has been unable to determine where the men were being held. The whereabouts of Paerhati are still unclear.

According to a statement released today by the UAA, “Chinese officials accused Uighurbiz and other Uyghur-run websites of inciting protests and violence on July 5, 2009, because in the days leading up to July 5, they had announced plans for the July 5 peaceful demonstration that took place at People’s Square.”

Date posted: July 23, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 189