12/22/2017, 14.05
CHINA

Xinjiang: two young Uyghurs die in custody under suspicious circumstances

The two men had voluntarily come home from Egypt at the beginning of the year but were jailed upon arrival. The policeman brother of one of the two was fired because he had started asking questions. The repression against the mostly Muslim ethnic group continues.

Beijing (AsiaNews/RFA) – Two Uyghur students die in custody following their voluntary return to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang from Egypt. Chinese authorities had issued an order for mostly Muslim Uyghurs living abroad to return home.

A resident of Xinjiang, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service that Abdusalam Mamat and Yasinjan (pictured) had been studying at Al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo since 2015 and 2016, respectively.

After Xinjiang’s government issued an order earlier this year for Uyghurs living abroad to come home to “register” with authorities, Mamat voluntarily returned to his home town of Korla in January and Yasinjan three months later, the source said.

The two young men were immediately imprisoned upon arrival and later died in police custody under suspicious circumstances, despite having no prior health issues.

Mamat was the son of the imam of Juma Mosque, the city’s grand mosque. Yasinjan was the sibling of an officer from Korla’s Charbagh township police station who had worked for seven to eight years at the township’s prison.

The Communist Party secretary of Korla’s Aq-Eriq village told RFA that 23 people are currently detained in his village. He confirmed that Mamat and Yasinjan had died “in prison.”

“Yasinjan’s brother was dismissed from his police work prior to Yasinjan’s death,” he said. “He was dismissed because he began to inquire about Yasinjan’s imprisonment.”

For several months, some 20 Uyghur students in Cairo have been unaccounted for.

More than 200 Uyghurs, many of them religious students at Al-Azhar University, have been detained since 4 July, rounded up in restaurants or at their homes, with others seized at airports as they tried to flee to safer countries.

Back in September, 29 Uyghurs were arrested in Malaysia and deported back to China.

In the name of the fight against terrorism, Beijing has cracked down on the Uyghur population for decades, imposing tight control over their religious activities.

Case in point: Uyghur Muslims are not allowed to fast during the month of Ramadan and are required to install an application on their mobile phone that allows the authorities to monitor their phone conversations.

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