Citing good behavior in prison, the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region today (March 3 Beijing time) informed the Uyghur businesswoman and political activist Rebiya Kadeer of their decision to reduce her eight-year sentence for “supplying state secrets to foreigners” by one year. Rebiya Kadeer is now due to be released from the Women’s Prison of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on August 12, 2006.
According to sources in the Chinese government, if Rebiya Kadeer continues to demonstrate “genuine repentance and willingness to reform,” more sentence reductions or good behavior parole can be considered.
Rebiya Kadeer, 57 years old, is a member of Xinjiang’s predominantly Muslim majority Uyghur ethnic group. She has made significant contributions to women’s rights, in recognition of which she was appointed to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) and the Xinjiang Region’s People’s Congress. She was a delegate to the 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women. The director of a large and successful trading company, she also founded the Thousand Mother’s Movement in 1997.
In 1997, the Chinese government confiscated Rebiya Kadeer’s passport and placed her under surveillance. She was barred from reappointment to the CPPCC. On August 13, 1999, Rebiya Kadeer was detained on her way to a meeting with members of a delegation of American congressional staff. She was tried and convicted of endangering state security by the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court on March 10, 2000. Her eight-year sentence was set to expire on August 12, 2007.
Given the facts of her case, members of Congress have lobbied the Chinese government for Rebiya Kadeer’s release. Numerous letters have been written to senior Chinese officials and resolutions have been passed. The State Department has made resolving Rebiya Kadeer’s case one of the highest priorities of its dialogue with China on human rights. American ambassador Clark Randt, Jr., regularly mentions Rebiya Kadeer in his public speeches on US-China relations.
In September 2003, China’s Ministry of Justice gave The Dui Hua Foundation’s Executive Director John Kamm detailed information on Rebiya Kadeer. The ministry stated that Ms. Kadeer was following all prison rules and regulations, that she recognized her mistakes and was resolved “to stand on the side of the party and the people.” Discussions with the relevant departments of the Chinese government intensified during Kamm’s December 2003 and February 2004 visits to Beijing. News of the sentence reduction was conveyed to Kamm by a telephone call from a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official on March 2, 2004.
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
March 2, 2004