Brother, Sister of Turkey-Based Uyghur Academic Reported Ill in Prison in Xinjiang

erkin-emet1.jpg Nurnisa Emet, younger sister of Ankara-based scholar Erkin Emet, and her husband Kadir Memet, during a 2013 tour of Turkey. Kadir Memet has been jailed for 23 years and his wife, for 14 years, for giving gifts to Erkin Emet that Chinese authorities said represented “aiding and abetting terrorism.”
Erkin Emet

The brother and sister of a Uyghur academic living in exile are in poor health in prison in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) after being jailed for sending gifts to the scholar, a 30-year resident and citizen of Turkey.

Convicted of “aiding and abetting terrorists” for their support of Erkin Emet, a lecturer at Anakara University and a freelance journalist, Erkin’s sister Nurnisa and brother Enver, who has high blood pressure, are now serving prison terms of 14 and 11 years respectively.

Both are now suffering ill health made worse by their time in prison, and have been transferred from Peylu prison in Kashgar’s Yarkand county to a prison hospital in Yopurgha county many miles away, Erkin Emet told RFA’s Uyghur Service this week.

“They put my younger brother Enver in Peylu prison, but his blood pressure got really high and he grew very ill, and so they took him and Nurnisa to Yopurgha prison,” Erkin said.

“They’re apparently not in good health now,” Erkin said. “But are they being treated for their health problems? This is something I worry about.”

Chinese authorities meanwhile seized jewelry and other valuables belonging to Nurnisa in order to satisfy a fine of 3 million RMB (U.S. $439,980) a court imposed on her and her husband, also serving a prison term in the case, Erkin said.

“Because they were unable to pay the fines, police came into the house and gathered up my sister’s jewelry, every little thing they had, and took them away,” Erkin said. “That’s how they got their money.”

Reached for comment, an official at the Yopurgha county judiciary confirmed Nurnisa’s poor state of health, saying “She’s not doing well,” adding that she had been moved from Yarkand to a medical facility at the Yopurgha prison about three months before.

No move has been made to take her elsewhere for treatment, though, because of travel restrictions aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We’ll do it if the roads open again,” he said.

Erkin Emet – a lecturer since 1992 at the state-run Ankara University’s Department of Language, History and Geography – has been a correspondent and contributor to RFA’s Uyghur Service from Turkey, and managed RFA’s office in the Turkish capital from 2001-12.

Local media in Turkey, home to more than 50,000 Uyghurs who fled there to escape persecution in China, have speculated that the main reason for Erkin Emet's "terrorism" accusations is related to his work for RFA and his decade-long relationship with the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress advocacy group.

China has imprisoned numerous Uyghurs for having visited Turkey and other Muslim countries, or for having relatives living in those countries.  Chinese authorities have also jailed dozens of relatives of RFA Uyghur reporters in retaliation for their work.

Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Elise Anderson. Written in English by Richard Finney.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.