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Uyghur college grad sentenced to 5 years in prison for disturbing social order! This is an original article from RFA!

Authorities in Xinjiang have sentenced a 24-year-old Uyghur to five years and four months in prison for disturbing social order by attending a gathering where the arrest of a friend was discussed, security and court officials in the vast western region of China said. 

On May 10, Quddusjan Abduweli from Bortala, or Bole in Chinese, was tried in a closed-door trial in Qumul, or Hami in Chinese, where he was detained, his sister, Sahiba Sayramoghli, who lives in the United States, posted on X.

Sayramoghli was living in Turkey when she learned that police arrested her younger brother along with three friends in July 2023 at a checkpoint as they traveled to Ghulja, called Yining in Chinese, for a friend’s wedding. At the time, she took to social media for help.

Though the reason for their arrest was unknown, Sayramogli contacted the parents of the others who had been arrested and was informed that two had been released, but that authorities kept Abduweli and his friend Intizar in custody. 

Worried about her brother’s fate for the past 10 months, she learned that her parents were going to travel to Qumul in May, though they told her they were going there to attend to some paperwork. 

“They didn’t elaborate further,” Sayramoghli told RFA. “I refrained from probing for more details, fearing they might encounter trouble. However, I couldn’t help but speculate that perhaps there would be a court proceeding for my brother and that they would receive updates about him.”  

When her parents returned to Bortala, she learned that they attended Abduweli’s trial when her mother said Abduweli needed “a bit more time to study about the law” but provided no further details.

When Radio Free Asia contacted the Iwirghul District People’s Court, an employee said Abduweli’s trial had taken place at the Qumul Intermediate People’s Court.

An official at the Qumul court said Abduweli’s trial took place May 10, as indicated in their files, but he did not disclose the length of the sentence.

Because the trial was closed-door, court officials could provide information about the grounds for Abduweli’s conviction and the duration of his sentence only to his family if they appeared there in person, he said.

An officer who attended Abduweli’s trial but declined to be identified told Radio Free Asia that the Uyghur had been sentenced to five years and four months in prison. 

‘Disturbing social order’

Abduweli was at a gathering of friends where the arrest of another friend was discussed, though he didn’t comment on the matter, the officer said.

However, authorities determined Abduweli had an ideological problem because he stayed at the gathering which gave cause to the court to charge him with “disturbing social order,” he said.

An officer from Qumul Prison, where Abduweli was held in pretrial detention, gave conflicting information, saying that Abduweli received a six-year sentence, while a friend named Kaisar, who was tried before him, received a five-year sentence.

Sayramoghli said her parents appeared distraught during a video call the day after the trial.

“It seemed as though they had aged overnight,” she said. “From their appearance alone, I could sense that my brother had been accused of a serious crime.”

Abduweli had no legal representation during the trial, and after the proceedings only his mother was allowed to speak with him for about two minutes.

Soccer fan

Abduweli graduated from Qaramay Technical University with a degree in petrochemistry in June 2023. During his fourth year at the university, he went to Qumul for mandatory training, working diligently at a transportation company for about six months, Sayramoghli said.

A soccer fan who spent most of his free time playing the sport and following soccer news, Abduweli deliberately stayed away from sensitive societal issues for a long time, Sayramoghli said.

“Our family firmly believes that my brother is innocent of any wrongdoing,” she said. “He is an extremely cautious individual by nature. We always advised him to be careful and vigilant, and he consistently adhered to these principles.”

Abduweli had been previously implicated in a “major case” involving the arrest of 50-60 Uyghur students at the Qumul Provincial Pedagogical College, from which his friend Intizar graduated, an area police officer told RFA.  

Intizar, who is also from Bortala, is scheduled to go on trial this week, according to a source who declined to be identified out of fear of retaliation by authorities.

Some of the students were arrested for using a virtual private network to bypass internet firewalls so they could access material deemed illegal by Chinese authorities, but the reasons for the arrests of the others remain unknown.

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