Three Uyghur Journalists Among 33 Women Jailed Globally For Reporting: Media Watchdog

By Joshua Lipes
chimengul-awut Uyghur poet and editor Chimengul Awut in an undated photo.

New York-based media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) marked International Women’s Day Friday by highlighting nearly three dozen women imprisoned around the world for their work as reporters—three of whom are Uyghurs from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

In a blog post, CPJ said that at least 33 of 251 journalists in jail at the time of its global prison census in December were women.

Among the 33 are ethnic Uyghur reporters Gulmire Imin, who is serving a life sentence for “separatism, leaking state secrets and organizing an illegal demonstration,” Atikem Rozi, one of several students detained for their work on, a website started by imprisoned Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, and editor Chimengul Awut, who is being detained for producing “dangerous” books.

Imin, a former local official in the XUAR capital Urumqi, was arrested following July 2009 ethnic violence in the city and sentenced in August 2010 to life in jail. She was accused of organizing demonstrations on July 5, 2009 through the cultural website Salkin and leaking state secrets to her husband, who lives in Norway.

The Munich-based World Uyghur Congress exile group has confirmed that Imin was being held in the Xinjiang Women’s Prison in Urumqi, but the state of her health is currently unknown.

Rozi, who wrote for, was convicted on unspecified charges along with six other students at a secret trial in November 2014. The seven students received sentences of between three and eight years, according to state media, although the length of sentence for each and where they are being held is unclear.

Tohti, the website’s founder, was sentenced to life in prison on Sept. 23, 2014 following a two-day show trial on charges of promoting separatism.

Awut, an editor at the Kashgar Publishing House in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture, is one of 14 people who worked at the company to be detained at a political “re-education camp” since last year.

A celebrated poet, sources recently confirmed to RFA’s Uyghur Service that Awut was arrested in July last year for editing a novel by a well-known Uyghur writer and sent to the camp network, where more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas are believed to have been detained throughout the XUAR since April 2017.

The three women are among seven female journalists incarcerated in China—six of whom are held on “anti-state” charges.

Among the remaining female journalists highlighted in CPJ’s blog post, 14 were jailed in Turkey, four in Saudi Arabia, two in Vietnam, two in Egypt, two in Israel, and one in Syria.

Imin was one of three women CPJ said are serving life terms for “crimes against the state.”


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