World Uyghur Congress founder's brother handed life sentence in China

World Uyghur Congress founder's brother handed life sentence in China
Hushtar Isa was interned in 2017 following an allegation of 'inciting terrorism'. His brother is World Uyghur Congress co-founder Dolkun Isa.
2 min read
01 June, 2021
Chinese authorities have held perhaps one million members of Xianjiang Muslim groups [OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty-file photo]

The co-founder of a global Uighur movement's brother has been handed life in a Chinese prison.

Though the jail term has arisen lately, 48-year-old Hushtar Isa was interned in 2017 in one of China's widely criticised camps, The Times reported on Tuesday.

His detainment in 2017 followed an allegation of "inciting terrorism".

World Uyghur Congress (WUC) co-founder and Hushtar's sibling, Dolkun Isa, said: "It is very clear that China is trying to push Uighur exiles to silence, because my parents and siblings have never engaged in politics.

"Silencing and revenge is their only aim, because they have been unhappy from the beginning with my activism."

Dolkun began residing abroad in 1994, launching WUC in Munich 10 years later.

China alleges that the organisation led race riots in 2009 in the Uighur home province of Xinjiang.

Amid what they claim are counter-terror efforts, the authorities have now held perhaps one million members of the Uighur and other Xinjiang Muslim communities, in a move rebuked by rights organisations.

Dolkun's initial experience of detention came in 1988 following his coordination of a protest while a student, according to The Times.

Even though in 1998, Hushtar was arrested, he remained in Xinjiang province where he cared for the siblings' aging father.

In 2017, their mother asked Dolkun to no longer call, seemingly amid pressure.

The following year, she lost her life while in internment. Dolkun was informed of this by a friend living in Australia.

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His dad met the same fate last year, which he learned of in the Chinese Community Party's Global Times.

"I was shocked, trying to call all my relatives but none of their phones are connecting.

"I still have no idea where or when my father died."

He said his sister made a forced televised statement claiming their dad passed away in hospital and praised the authorities' conduct towards the Uighur people.

Xinjiang 'training camps'
Click here to enlarge image (September 2020)

Dolkun is not the first activist to have his relatives given prison terms.

For instance, last December, the sister of Campaign for Uighurs executive director Rushan Abbas, was given 20 years over terror allegations.

Dolkun observed: "[The Chinese authorities'] intention was assimilation, then it turned to genocide.

"When I started campaigning very few people knew about the Uighurs. Now China is under international pressure."

He considers that this pressure is leading to increased targeting of those forced abroad's relatives.