New York, July 26, 2010—The 15-year jail sentence imposed by a Chinese court on Uighur journalist and website manager Gheyrat Niyaz is unjustly harsh and should be overturned immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The fact that Niyaz was convicted under sweeping “endangering state security” charges is an indicator of how far the government will go to silence journalists who speak critically about sensitive issues in the county, CPJ said. According to international media reports, Niyaz was punished because of an August 2, 2009, interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), a Chinese-language magazine based in Hong Kong. In the interview, Niyaz said authorities had not taken steps to prevent violence in the July 2009 ethnic violence that broke out in East Turkestan (renamed by communist China as so-called Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region). At the time, media reports said about 200 people were killed in the violence.
“Gheyrat Niyaz has been harshly punished because he dared to criticize the government for not trying to stop the ethic violence before it started,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call on the authorities to overturn this miscarriage of justice and free Niyaz immediately.”
Information courtesy of CPJ