Police on the Lookout for Three Uyghurs

China accuses the trio of being members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Armed Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard on a road in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Sept. 2, 2015.

Police in the northern Chinese city of Nanyang have issued an all-points bulletin seeking the arrest of three Uyghurs suspected of being members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement that China claims is a terrorist organization, RFA’s Uyghur Service has learned.

A directive issued on Aug. 31 by the Nanyang municipal police department tells all police in its jurisdiction to be on the lookout for Ayjamal Rozi, Abdunur Nurulla and Ayshem Ekrem, all of whom hail from the Sang village of Besh’ériq in Aksu  (in Chinese, Akesu) prefecture.

According to the directive, the police department in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region listed Ayjamal Rozi as a wanted person in 2012, and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has placed Ayshem Ekrem on its list of key terrorists.

Sources tell RFA that Ayjamal Rozi and Abdunur Nurulla are a couple who have had three children together.

The family left from Aksu around 2010 after selling their land, and moved to Urumqi to do business, but they were called back to their home village and authorities forced Ayjamal Rozi to abort their fourth child, a local woman told RFA.

“We heard that her husband disappeared while doing business in Urumqi in 2010, and after that, his wife disappeared in 2011 or 2012,” the woman told RFA on condition of anonymity. “Her husband was a party member in this village, but he sold his land and house and opened a cooking oil and rice store in Urumqi.”

The woman told RFA that police periodically question the couple’s relatives, but that people in Aksu know nothing of their fate.

“The local police station is always checking with their relatives here to see if they have any information on them, but they just disappeared,” she said.

“We have heard that she was staying in Urumqi, but later we were told that she too disappeared, leaving her two children behind,” the woman added. “Right now those children are with their grandparents here in our village. We do not know the whereabouts of the other child.”

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement, also known as the Turkestan Islamic Party or Turkestan Islamic Movement, is an Islamic separatist organization founded by Uyghurs in western China. Its stated goal is the independence of what they refer to as East Turkestan from China, which calls the region Xinjiang.

According to the Chinese government, it is a violent separatist movement and is often responsible for terrorist attacks in Xinjiang.

While the U.S. State Department has listed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as one of the more extreme separatist groups, its capabilities and membership are unclear.

China has vowed to crack down on what it calls religious extremism in Xinjiang, and regularly conducts “strike hard” campaigns including police raids on Uyghur households, restrictions on Islamic practices, and curbs on the culture and language of the Uyghur people, including videos and other material.

While China blamed Uyghur extremists for terrorist attacks, experts outside China say Beijing has exaggerated the threat from the Uyghurs and that repressive domestic policies are responsible for an upsurge in violence there that has left hundreds dead since 2012.

Reported by by Jelil Kashgary for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.