Abduweli Ayup

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"Uyghur linguist sentenced to 18-month prison term in China", LSA News 8/28/2014:

The LSA has learned from news reports published this week that Abduweli Ayup has been ordered to pay a large fine and continue his detention in a Chinese prison for the next six months. The LSA had sent a letter earlier this year to government officials in China and the U.S., seeking details about Abduweli's alleged crimes, and legal intervention on his behalf, consistent with international covenants on human rights. Friends of Abduweli's have established a fundraising page on the YouCaring website to assist in raising a portion of the $13,000 (USD) fine imposed by the Chinese government.

Abduweli Ayup is a Uyghur linguist and educator in Xinjiang, China, who has been detained since August 20, 2013. Abduweli, the recipient of a Ford Foundation Scholarship, earned a Master’s Degree in Linguistics from the University of Kansas in 2011. Upon graduation, he returned to Xinjiang with the hope of establishing a Uyghur Language school so that Uyghur students would have an opportunity to develop academic proficiency in their native language. Abduweli’s school proved to be popular, and he was preparing to open a Uyghur Language kindergarten before his arrest.

For many months, no information was available on Abduweli. He was not formally charged until May 17, 2014, when he and his partners, Dilyar Obul and Muhemmet Sidik, were accused of having collected "illegal donations" to support their school. After a one-day trial on July 11, 2014, the court ruled on August 21 that Abduweli and his associates had "committed a crime of abusing public money" in connection with fund-rasing efforts for their school.  

Supporters of Abduweli find this verdict improbable given Abduweli's character and his transparent approach to legal and financial matters. Abduweli was given an 18-month sentence, effective from his date of initial detention. His wife, two young daughters, family and wide network of friends eagerly anticipate his release on February 20, 2015.

Andrew Jacobs, "A Devotion to Language Proves Risky", NYT 5/11/2014:

A poet, linguist and globe-trotting polyglot, Abduweli Ayup had a passion for the spoken word, notably Uighur, the Turkic language spoken in his homeland in China’s far northwest. In 2011, soon after finishing his graduate studies in the United States, Mr. Ayup returned home to open a chain of “mother tongue” schools in Xinjiang, the vast Central Asian region whose forced marriage to the Han Chinese heartland has become increasingly tumultuous.

But in a country where language is politically fraught, Mr. Ayup’s devotion to Uighur may have proved his undoing.

Last August, Mr. Ayup and two business partners were arrested and accused of “illegal fund-raising,” charges that stemmed from their effort to finance a new school by, among other means, selling honey and T-shirts emblazoned with the school’s insignia.

Mr. Ayup, 39, and his two associates, Dilyar Obul and Muhemmet Sidik, have not been heard from since.

There's a Facebook page Justice for Uyghur Linguist Abduweli Ayup, and a site raising contributions to help pay his fine.


  1. Nathan said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 11:19 am

    So is it illegal to sell honey and T-shirts in China?

    [(myl) I haven't been able to find any real details about what Abduweli Ayup is accused of having done. The youcaring.com page for him says that

    After a one-day trial on July 11, the court ruled on August 21 that Abduweli and his associates had "committed a crime of abusing public money."

    How that relates to the t-shirts and honey, if at all, is unclear.

    There is some further discussion, but no further details about the charges, here and here.]

  2. Bathrobe said,

    August 30, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

    The illegal fund-raising is just a technicality. The real reason for the sentence is that he is trying to fight against a top-level national decision to gradually eradicate Uyghur language and culture and replace it with Han language and culture.

    As for the charge, my suspicion is that it runs like this:

    1. The kindergarten was closed down for 'incomplete documentation' and permission to open another school was refused. It is/was thus an illegal school.

    2. The founders were trying to raise money publicly for an illegal school (one that was not permitted and therefore did not exist). Therefore they were engaged in 'illegal fund-raising'.

    This is basically how 'rule of law' under the Communists works. If your actions run counter to their agenda, they can use whatever pretext they want to declare you 'illegal'. After that they can do anything they want.

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