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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Aussie Uygur Languishes in Kazakhstan Jail

An Australian Citizen of Uygur heritage languishes in a Kazakhstan Jail a victim of that country's obsequious China policy.

Whilst Australia follows the high profile case of Guantanamo inmate David Hicks, the Australian caught in Afghanistan and accused of being an al Qaida terrorist, few would be aware that another Australian is serving 15 years in a Central Asian prison, the only Australian convicted of terrorism sine "9/11"

The Australian ABC programme the "7.30 Report" has revealed that in October 2001, Noorpolat Abdulla, a 31-year-old Australian citizen of Uygur origin, was convicted of preparing for a terrorist attack in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, Central Asia.

Abdulla, originally from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's northwest and a member of the ethnic Uygur people who form a substantial minority there, was arrested in 2001 and charged with terrorism and subsequently received a 15 year jail sentence.

Abdulla immigrated to Australia in 1986 and took up Australian citizenship. According to the 7.30 Report he and his family moved to the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan several years later to set up a wool trading business.

Kazakhstan, a predominately Muslim country whose people are closely related to the Uygur ethnically and historically was, prior to 1997, a refuge for Uygurs seeking escape from Chinese policies of religious and racial oppression against them in their homeland of Xinjiang.

After the serious riots in Gulja Xinjiang in 1997 and the consequent heavy crackdown on Uygurs throughout Xinjiang China fearing an Uygur uprising pressured neighbouring countries to crackdown on local Uygurs to cut off support and communication to Xinjiang.

The setting up of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June 2001
which included the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People's Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan was a further inducement for these central Asian states to show "support" for regional security, more aptly China's anti-Uygur policies, in return for economic trade offs.


Khazakhstan boasts a large Uygur minority many who have lived in the former Soviet Republic since thousands were offered resettlement after Russia's withdrawal from Xinjiang in the latter part of the 19th century. Others followed in the years after the Communist takeover in 1949 especially in the famine years after the "Great Leap Forward" in the late 50's and early 1960's, all victims of periodic Chinese repression.

In September 2000 two Kazakh police were shot dead and Uygurs were suspected of being involved. Abdulla was among some 100 Uygurs rounded up, brought to the attention of Kazakh authorities through his English translating abilities and aiding Uygur refugees.

According to Abdulla's wife RABIYA ABDULLA, who believes her husband was set up by the Kazakh authorities:

"They search all the house and even the ceilings.

And then they searched the backyard While they were searching the backyard, they told me they found two grenades under the dog's house."


So weak was the prosecution case brought against Abdulla originally the 7.30 reporter states ...
"In fact, the judge was so unimpressed by the evidence, it was sent back to the police for re-examination."


Unfortunately his second trial took place in the month after "9/11" at which he was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 15 years jail. Not a word was said by Australian Embassy officials despite reportedly being denied Consular access to Abdulla.

Abdulla, like hundreds of Uygurs imprisoned in central Asian countries, repatriated to China or imprisoned or executed in China, is not in jail because he is a terrorist but because he was an easy target to set up as an example; an example to Uygurs in Xinjiang that they have no friends in Asia and therefore to toe the Chinese Communist Party line.



7.30 Report - 15/11/2004: Govt under fire after Australian found guilty on terrorism charges in Kazakhstan