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Uyghur woman confirmed detained for complaining about son’s sentence in Xinjiang

Authorities apprehended her on July 22 after she did not stop sounding off following a warning.

By Shohret Hoshur for RFA Uyghur

July 31, 2023

Rahile Jalalidin (L) and her son, Zulyar Yasin, in an undated photo.

A Uyghur woman arrested in July by authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region for complaining about her son’s lengthy jail sentence is in detention, one of her relatives and a local police official said.

State security police in the city’s Tengritagh district apprehended Rahile Jalalidin on July 22, according to information from the Norway-based Uyghur Hjelp, also known as the Uyghuryar Foundation, which maintains a list of Uyghurs arrested and detained by authorities in Xinjiang.

Jalalidin, who lived at the Expatriate Hotel Complex in Urumqi, was upset over the sentencing of her son, Zulyar Yasin, a student of Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University in Fuzhou, China. He was arrested and sentenced in May to 15 years in prison for what authorities said was illegal travel to Turkey in 2013.

Jalalidin’s arrest is another example of authorities jailing Uyghurs for alleged extremist behavior or actions they deem to threaten national security, such as taking previous trips abroad, having contacts abroad, participating in religious activities, or engaging in disruptive behavior.

After hearing about her son’s prison sentence, Jalalidin suffered a severe mental shock and repeatedly complained to the relevant legal and administrative authorities, according to Uyghur Hjelp.

A relative of Jalalidin who lives abroad told Radio Free Asia that people in Urumqi with knowledge of the situation informed her about Jalalidin’s detention. The relative requested anonymity out of fear of getting Jalalidin in more trouble with authorities.

A state security police official in Urumqi contacted by RFA confirmed that Jalalidin is in detention but could not provide further information about her sentence.

“I do not know where she is currently being held, and I cannot search for her information using her name,” the officer said. “We are unable to disclose the location or the specific prison she was taken to.”

When RFA inquired about Jalalidin’s health, the officer abruptly ended the call, saying, “If you want to obtain any information you will need to visit the police station here. I can’t tell you anything over the phone.”

Jalalidin had said she would sue the prosecutor’s office and the political law committee, arguing that her son’s education in Turkey was not illegal and that he had returned and passed his college exams, said Abdulweli Ayup, a Uyghur activist and linguist, originally from Xinjiang, who runs Uyghur Hjelp.

“However, her involvement in this matter was seen as a disagreement with the state’s policies by these authorities,” said Ayup, who learned about Jalalidin through information channels in Urumqi. “As a consequence, they warned and threatened her, implying that she might face arrest and trouble if she persisted with her efforts.”

“Miss Rayile’s courage to express her dissatisfaction with her son’s heavy penalty and her efforts to reach out to relevant authorities despite the situation might have been the reason for her arrest,” he added.

Despite the warning, Jalalidin refused to give up and continued to advocate for fair treatment for her son, he said.

Translated by RFA Uyghur. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Matt Reed.


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