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China - Uighur trial

Uighur leader claims 200 Uighurs tortured by China

Article published on the 2009-08-25 Latest update 2009-08-25 11:21 TU

Exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer(Photo: Reuters)

Exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer
(Photo: Reuters)

The leader of China's Uighur minority in exile has highlighted a report by exiled Uighur policeman that claims nearly 200 inmates were "tortured" to death in prison. Rebiya Kadeer, a 62-year-old former businesswoman who lives in the US, said Monday she received a fax from a Uighur policeman who fled to nearby Kyrgyzstan and gave a macabre account of Urumbay prison south of the city of Urumqi.

The policeman said that 196 Uighurs detained in a recent clampdown in the region "were tortured and killed" at the detention center, according to Kadeer.

China's worst ethnic violence in decades broke out on July 5 in Urumqi, pitting Han Chinese against Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking and predominantly Muslim people. At least 197 people died, according to official figures.

Kadeer told US television that one Uighur man, named “Erkin”, couldn’t stand the torture “and killed himself."

But Kadeer said it was impossible to verify the report as phone lines had been cut.

China has accused Kadeer of instigating recent unrest in northwestern Xinjiang region - charges she vehemently denies.

Meanwhile local government officials on Tuesday denied a front page report in the state-run China Daily that the People's Intermediate Court in Urumqi was preparing to place more than 200 people on trial amid tight security. A government spokesman said there was as yet no set date for the trial.