November 30, 2009

His Excellency Hu Jintao

President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Chairman of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Regional People’s GovernmentC
Nur Bekri
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
2 Zhongshanlu
Wulumuqishi 830041
Xinjiang Weiwuer Zizhiqu
P. R. China

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our serious concern regarding the detention of Uighur journalist and editor Hailaite Niyazi.

According to our information, Hailaite Niyazi, freelance journalist and former editor of the web site Uighur Online, was taken from his home in Tianshan District, Tacheng Prefecture, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, on October 1, 2009. His arrest is believed to have stemmed from critical interviews he had given to foreign media following the unrest that broke out in Urumqi on July 5, 2009. Niyazi’s family reports that he is accused of “endangering state security.” He is currently being held in Tianshan Detention Center in Urumqi.

PEN American Center believes Hailaite Niyazi has been detained for the peaceful expression of his critical views as part of a targeted crackdown on dissent in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, which we view as a violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. We therefore seek details of any charges against him and respectfully call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all others detained in Xinjiang in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H. E. Mr. Zhou Wenzhong
      Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
      Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
      2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
      Washington D.C. 20007
      Fax: (202) 588-9760

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