BEIJING – Chinese authorities have in the last few months detained up to 30 relatives of a human rights activist who currently lives in exile in the United States, Amnesty International said in a report on Tuesday.
Rebiya Kadeer, one of the best known ethnic Uyghur human rights advocates and the president of the World Uyghur Congress, was in 1999 sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing state secrets but fled to the US in 2005.
“It is unclear when they were taken away, and they are presumed to be arbitrarily detained at an ‘education center.’ They are at high risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” the statement said.
AI believes that the relatives are currently held at one of the many detention facilities that have been established in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
These centers, referred to as “counter extremism centers” or “education and transformation centers” are known to detain people for 6 to twelve months or more.
China considers that some members of the minority Muslim Uyghur community are part of extremist organizations, like the Turkistan Islamic Movement, and have links to foreign extremist organizations like Islamic State.
According to AI, among those detained is Kadeer’s son Ablikim Abudureyim, who had earlier served 12 years in prison for trying to defend his mother’s rights, as well as Kadeer’s siblings, grandchildren and distant relatives.