Posts Tagged ‘Shohrat Zakir’

Ex-Prisoner Says China’s ‘Vocational Training Centers’ a Complete Lie

December 7, 2018
The ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”
Uyghur Reveals Chinese Communist Party’s Crimes in Xinjiang

December 6, 2018

China’s claims that Xinjiang’s mass internment camps—where at least one million predominantly ethnic Uyghurs are being held—are “vocational training centres” are completely “fake and made up,” a former Uyghur camp detainee has told The Epoch Times.

Countering claims made by the China’s ruling Communist Party, who in October described the facilities as “free vocational training centers” that make life more “colorful,” the former detainee, Gulbukhar Jalilova, said “they are lying through their teeth,” adding that she “never saw a single classroom.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir told state-run Xinhua news agency that people detained in the camps “will advance from learning the country’s common language to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir

But 54-year-old Gulbukhar said instead of learning vocational skills, “I moved from camp to camp, room to room, and never saw anybody spending any time learning something.”

Gulbukhar, a Kazakhstan national and businesswoman, was held in an all-female camp in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, for just over 15 months before she was released in September this year. She was detained after being falsely accused of transferring $17,000 into a company called Nur. She was released by officials after they said they had been told she was innocent.

She was tricked into traveling to Urumqi after receiving a phone call from her business associate’s daughter. She was told there were “big problems” and that she needed to come to the capital immediately from her home in Kazakhstan. She was arrested upon her arrival.

Uyghur woman Gulbukhar Jalilova who was released from Xinjiang reeducation camp
Businesswoman Gulbukhar Jalilova, 54, a former Uyghur detainee in Xinjiang, China. (Gulbukhar Jalilova)

The CCP’s narrative of providing detainees with “vocational skills” to help with employment does not add up, the 54-year-old said, because the types of women held in camp with her were “very rich, educated people,” such as “businesswomen, doctors, nurses and teachers.”

“They weren’t homeless people or those with no money who needed training—that’s a lie from the CCP,” she told The Epoch Times.

“They could afford to go overseas and then when they came back, they were detained.”

But amongst the claims Zakir made, as the CCP moved to legalize the facilities, is that detainees are offered “practical opportunities,” such as learning about “businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly, and ethnic cuisine catering.”

The CCP has long justified its measures against Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslim, saying the facilities aim to “educate and transform” those that it deems at risk of the “three evil forces” of “extremism, separatism, and terrorism.”

Uyghurs, alongside other ethnic minorities like the Tibetans, as well as faithful believers who remain outside state control, including house Christians and Falun Gong, have long been targeted by the CCP for transformation through “re-education.”

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired a 15-minute segment in October, offering a glimpse into life inside one of the centers—the Hotan City Vocational Skills Education and Training Center.

The “trainees” can be seen reading from large textbooks in the clip and are shown learning various skills such as baking, woodworking, sewing, and cosmetology.

“Whatever the CCP shows on TV and videos—it’s all fake and made up. There are no classrooms. We just sit in our rooms and stare at the wall. The door only opens to punish you, that’s it,” Gulbukhar added.

While China’s state TV footage showed rooms with air conditioning, decorated with bunting and balloons, Gulbukhar said it is a depiction far from reality. Detainees are confined to their rooms, poorly treated, and kept in shackles in overcrowded conditions, she said.

Those in her camp were forced to ingest unknown medicine daily and were injected with a substance every month which “numbs your emotions.” They were also subject to various forms of torture including food and sleep deprivation, physical punishments, while some were even killed, she said.

Chairing a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing on Nov. 29, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said given the daily realities in communist China, where “Uyghur Muslims are rounded up and interned in camps, Tibetan monks and nuns are forced to undergo political re-education sessions, Falun Gong practitioners are reportedly sent to legal education centers for indoctrination, and Christian believers are harassed and imprisoned,” many observers are describing the current wave of repression in China as “the most severe since the cultural revolution.”

Rubio added he believes the CCP’s motivation behind the escalating crackdown “is an obsessive desire … to create a sort of unified, national identity, which must be stripped of anything that competes with it—ethnicity, religion, ethnic cultural tradition.”

China analyst Dr. Samantha Hoffman from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute added at the hearing that the ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”

The CCP’s “concept of what we would call national security I think is better translated as party state security,” she said. “[T]here are dimensions … dealing with the internal struggle for power … and then dealing with everything outside the party; controlling the narrative, controlling the ideological space.

“That means that the state security methods extend far beyond China’s borders and that’s why you see the harassment of overseas Chinese.”


Canadian Set Free By China in Human Rights Disagreement

February 3, 2016


Huseyin Celil and one of his youngest children in a photo taken shortly before his arrest in 2006.


BEIJING — The Globe and Mail

China has reduced the sentence for Huseyin Celil, the Canadian man imprisoned for life on terrorism-related charges, at a time when both Ottawa and Beijing are seeking to move past old frictions.

Judicial authorities commuted sentences for Mr. Celil and 10 other prisoners in China’s far western Xinjiang region, “based on the performance of those people,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wednesday.

Mr. Celil, 46, had apologized for bringing “unmendable damages” to the country, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

“I will apologize repeatedly and with sincerity to the Party, the government and society, to the young people and their families, who were contaminated by me with ideas of violence and terrorism, and hence lost their youth and even life,” Mr. Celil said.

Seven of the Xinjiang prisoners had life sentences reduced to jail terms of 19 1/2 or 20 years. Xinhua did not make clear whether Mr. Celil was one of them, nor did court websites in Xinjiang. Calls to courts in Xinjiang went unanswered.

Mr. Celil, a refugee from China, was travelling on a Canadian passport when police in Uzbekistan arrested him in 2006 and sent him to China, which refused to recognize his Canadian citizenship. His treatment became a point of heated disagreement between Ottawa and Beijing after former prime minister Stephen Harper raised the issue with Hu Jintao, then China’s president.

His commutation comes as the Justin Trudeau government seeks a warmer relationship in cross-Pacific diplomacy and trade.

“This would not be accidental,” said Gordon Houlden, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta. “They know this is a case of huge sensitivity to Canada.”

The relationship with China was further complicated last week when officials charged Kevin Garratt, another Canadian whose detention has been disputed by Ottawa, with spying and stealing state secrets.

Reducing Mr. Celil’s life sentence “will be a one-off gesture meant to improve atmosphere, and seen in a positive fashion,” Mr. Houlden said.

But Mr. Celil’s treatment remains “very harsh,” said Joseph Shi, a Chinese dissident imprisoned for seven years before coming to Canada, where he is now a municipal councillor in Alberta. Chinese prisoners are typically re-evaluated every two years, and most criminals would see sentences reduced on their first re-evaluation, he said. It has now been a decade since Mr. Celil was arrested.

“The Canadian government may think this is a sign to smooth the relationship. Actually no: this is just very harsh treatment.”

Mr. Celil fled China in 1994 after being arrested on murder and terrorism-related charges. After his departure, a Chinese court sentenced him to death for organizing a political party to advocate for China’s Uighur people. He moved to Canada in 2001 as a political refugee and received a passport four years later.

The Uighurs are a Muslim minority who say Beijing has discriminated against them by restricting their ability to practise their religion.

The Chinese government accused Mr. Cecil of joining the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the East Turkestan Liberation Organization, groups it says have close links to terror.

He and the other 10 prisoners “jeopardized China’s national security, disrupted social stability and caused heavy losses of lives and property,” Mutalifu Wubli, president of the Xinjiang’s Higher People’s Court, told Xinhua.

China subjects some prisoners to what they call re-education and deradicalization programs. The mass commutation looks like an effort to show those programs are “bearing fruit,” said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International.

But with no independent oversight or international observation, “it’s very difficult know whether they’re actually effective or whether they comply with international laws and standards,” he said. Imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners, for example, have been “subjected to extra-legal transformation centres where oftentimes beatings or studying the law all day long, and memorizing and having to recite things, was very common,” Mr. Nee said.

Chinese law stipulates that a life sentence cannot be reduced below 13 years. In general, prisoners can have sentences commuted if they “so-called admit to the crime, promise to correct wrongs, show good performance during their time in jail or make major contributions” during their incarceration, said Li Xiongbing, a Chinese human rights lawyer.

Mr. Celil has spent long periods in solitary confinement, and his arrest and sentencing created significant tension between Ottawa and Beijing. Canadian diplomats were barred from seeing Mr. Celil or attending his court proceedings.

In 2009, the Canadian government sought help from John Kamm, a former U.S. businessman who advocates on behalf of imprisoned dissidents in China, and who was in the country last week.

“This rare act of clemency has come about after years of hard work by the Canadian government, and reflects lobbying by international human rights groups and concerned citizens,” he said in a statement. “We welcome this development, and hope that other acts of clemency will follow.”

The Canadian embassy in Beijing directed questions to foreign affairs officials in Ottawa, who had no immediate comment when contacted after working hours.

Human rights groups have long lobbied for Mr. Celil’s release, saying that his health has suffered while in prison. His mother accused China of torturing him and forcing him to sign a confession. In court in 2007, he said his captors threatened to have him “buried alive or disappeared” if he did not confess.

Mr. Celil was allowed to send a plaintive letter from prison in 2008, in which he wrote: “I missed my mother and two son from the bottom of my heart. I really want to see them one more time … My days are passing with hoping of a miracle that can save me from this place and gives me chance of hugging my wife and children in Canada.”

With a report by Yu Mei

Follow on Twitter: @nvanderklippe



Xinjiang: China Claims It “De-Radicalised” 11 Muslim people convicted for harming state security — Canadian Huseyin Celil set free

February 3, 2016


Authorities in China’s unruly far-western region of Xinjiang have reduced the sentences of 11 people jailed for threatening state security after declaring success of a de-radicalisation program, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Hundreds of people have been killed in violence in Xinjiang in the past few years. The government blames the unrest on Islamist militants who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan for minority Uighurs, a mostly Muslim people from Xinjiang who speak a Turkic language.

Seven of the convicts had their life sentences reduced to jail terms ranging from 19.5 years to 20 years, including people convicted of instigating “secessionist activities” or participating in terror attacks, Xinhua said late on Tuesday.

The other four had their jail terms cut by six months from initial sentences ranging from 8 to 15 years, it added.

A spokesman for the main Uighur exile group dismissed the report as “political propaganda”.

Xinjiang’s governor, Shohrat Zakir, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the region’s jails had been very successful in recent years at their de-radicalisation efforts, with a “majority” of convicts becoming law-abiding citizens.

Efforts need to continue in this regard with a focus on those convicted for harming state security, he added.

Xinhua said this had been accomplished by inviting religious leaders and scholars to talk to prisoners about “correct religious belief”.

One of those whose sentence was reduced was identified as Yushanjiang Jilili, the Chinese spelling for Huseyin Celil, a Uighur-Canadian jailed in 2007 for terrorism. China considers him a Chinese citizen.

“My crimes caused serious damage to my country, Xinjiang, my family and children that can never be made up for,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

Celil, a Canadian citizen and father of four, is in solitary confinement where he is serving a life sentence for his advocacy work on behalf of the Muslim Uighurs

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he did not know any details about the sentence reductions, but that all the people involved were Chinese.

The Canadian Embassy in Beijing did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters was also unable to reach officials in Xinjiang for comment, or any family members of the convicts to verify their stories.

Exiles and many rights groups say the real cause of the unrest is heavy-handed Chinese policies, including curbs on Uighur culture, and a dearth of economic opportunity, rather than any cohesive militant group.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the main exile group the World Uyghur Congress, said news of the commutations was a “political propaganda tool” to cover up the government’s use of the term extremist to repress the Uighur people.

“Be aware that China is using the so-called commutations to mislead the international community and continues to use anti-terrorism to step up its repression,” he said in an emailed statement.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Nick Macfie, Robert Birsel)