WASHINGTON, Dec. 19--Chinese authorities in the northwestern province of Xinjiang this week detained the four adult children of a jailed Uyghur businesswoman in an apparent bid to keep them from meeting with a senior U.S. official who was visiting the region, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.
Two Chinese police officers came to Rebiye Kadeer's home at approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and took her four children--aged between 25 and 40--into custody, sources in the Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, told RFA's Uyghur service. Kadeer is serving an eight-year jail term for sending newspaper articles from Xinjiang to relatives abroad.
Two of Kadeer's sons have spent time in jail since their mother's arrest, while the third has been subject to police harassment, according to the sources, who asked not to be named. But Kadeer's daughter, Rushangul, "is pretty shaken up," one source said, noting that she hadn't previously been detained. Local police officials couldn't be reached for comment.
The detentions came ahead of a visit to Xinjiang on Wednesday and Thursday by Lorne Craner, U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor. Craner spent two days this week meeting with senior Chinese officials on human rights and democracy issues in Beijing before traveling on to Urumqi. He met there with senior Chinese provincial officials and several Uyghur Moslem leaders.
All four siblings were taken to the Urumqi Nanguan Police Department on Tuesday morning and assigned to separate cells, the sources said, with one officer assigned to watch each of them. The police released Kadeer's daughter, Rushangul, after only two hours but kept her sons in custody until midday.
Later in the day, the director of the Nanguan Police Department and 16 other officers confined Kadeer's three sons again at the family's Rebiye Department Store for about five hours. They were barred from leaving the store, making phone calls, or visiting the restroom except in the company of police. One son, Alim, tried to call his father in the United States but was stopped from doing so, the sources said.
In the early evening, the officers left, warning that they would return on Wednesday. They returned Wednesday at 8 a.m. and confined all four siblings in the department store until 2:30 p.m., when they left the premises, the sources said.
In the first high level dialogue on human rights between China and Washington since October 2001, Craner said Beijing had decided to re-issue invitations to U.N. special rapporteurs on human rights. Human rights groups fear China is using the U.S.-led war on terror as a pretext for cracking down on ethnic Uyghurs, however.
Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996 as a private, nonprofit corporation, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.