Uyghur linguist sentenced to 18-month prison term in China
The LSA has learned from news reports published this week that Abduweli Ayup has been ordered to pay a large fine and continue his detention in a Chinese prison for the next six months. The LSA had sent a letter earlier this year to government officials in China and the U.S., seeking details about Abduweli's alleged crimes, and legal intervention on his behalf, consistent with international covenants on human rights. Friends of Abduweli's have established a fundraising page on the YouCaring website to assist in raising a portion of the $13,000 (USD) fine imposed by the Chinese government.
Abduweli Ayup is a Uyghur linguist and educator in Xinjiang, China, who has been detained since August 20, 2013. Abduweli, the recipient of a Ford Foundation Scholarship, earned a Master’s Degree in Linguistics from the University of Kansas in 2011. Upon graduation, he returned to Xinjiang with the hope of establishing a Uyghur Language school so that Uyghur students would have an opportunity to develop academic proficiency in their native language. Abduweli’s school proved to be popular, and he was preparing to open a Uyghur Language kindergarten before his arrest.
For many months, no information was available on Abduweli. He was not formally charged until May 17, 2014, when he and his partners, Dilyar Obul and Muhemmet Sidik, were accused of having collected "illegal donations" to support their school. After a one-day trial on July 11, 2014, the court ruled on August 21 that Abduweli and his associates had "committed a crime of abusing public money" in connection with fund-rasing efforts for their school.
Supporters of Abduweli find this verdict improbable given Abduweli's character and his transparent approach to legal and financial matters. Abduweli was given an 18-month sentence, effective from his date of initial detention. His wife, two young daughters, family and wide network of friends eagerly anticipate his release on February 20, 2015.
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