[JURIST] More than 40 Uighur men have disappeared [HRW release] since being detained by Chinese security forces following the July Xinjiang riots [JURIST news archive], according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF] released Tuesday. HRW alleges that in the days following the riots, the Chinese police conducted large-scale sweeps of Uighur neighborhoods in Urumqi, unlawfully arresting young men. This was followed by the disappearances of many of the detainees. According to the report, the enforced disappearances place the detainees outside the scope of the protections of the law, while failing to disclose the detainees' whereabouts and declining to acknowledge their rights and liberties. The HRW report indicates that the victims of the disappearances were mostly young Uighur men in their 20s, the youngest being 14 years old. While HRW has documented 43 disappearances, the advocacy group suggests that the number of disappeared persons is likely much higher. HRW Asia director Brad Adams said:
China should only use official places of detention, so that everyone being held can contact family members and legal counsel. "Disappearing" people is not the behavior of countries aspiring to global leadership. … The United States, the European Union, and China's other international partners should demand clear answers about what happened to those who have disappeared in Xinjiang. They should not let trade relations or other political considerations lead them to treat China differently than other countries which carry out this horrific practice.
China has a history of unlawful enforced disappearances following the 2008 protests in Tibet
Last week, the Urumqi People's Court sentenced [JURIST report] six individuals to death and three to life in prison for their role in the protests. HRW alleged [JURIST report] Thursday that the trials failed to meet Chinese and international fairness and due process standards. Six other individuals have been sentenced to death [JURIST report], and one more sentenced to life in prison, for their roles in the riots between Han Chinese and Uighur residents that claimed the lives of approximately 200 people. Residents of the region claim that the majority of the deaths were at the hands of Chinese authorities, but Chinese state media [Xinhua report] has reported that most of the deaths were due to protesters. For their part, the Chinese government has admitted that police were responsible for 12 of the deaths [JURIST report]. The Muslim Uighur population is opposed [BBC backgrounder] to China's restrictive bans on religious practice and says that the recent influx of Han Chinese has disenfranchised non-Chinese-speaking Uighurs.