May 12, 2021
USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel Adopts
Uyghur Religious Prisoner of Conscience
Washington, DC – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioner Nury Turkel announced today his adoption of Adil Tuniyaz through USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience (RPOC) Project. Tuniyaz is a well-known Uyghur poet, reporter, and author based in China.
“The Chinese Communist Party has determined that an independent Uyghur identity is an existential threat. This is why they have arbitrarily detained millions of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in concentration camps. Uyghurs, such as Adil Tuniyaz and his family, are specifically targeted by this ruthless regime as part of its campaign to sinicize and eradicate a distinct Uyghur ethno-religious identity,” said USCIRF Commissioner Turkel.
In December 2017, Chinese authorities detained Tuniyaz, and his wife, Nezire Muhammad Salih in an ongoing crackdown of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. According to some reports, the couple were targeted by Chinese authorities in part for translating religious material including hadiths. Chinese authorities also detained their son, Imran, who was studying Arabic at a school in Beijing. Their three other children—Iqbal, Ehsan, and Ilyas—are reportedly in state-run orphanages for Uyghur youth and their guardians have been detained.
“USCIRF calls on Chinese authorities to release Mr. Tuniyaz and his family and end the cruel detention of millions of Uyghurs immediately,” USCIRF Commissioner Turkel added.
In its 2021 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State redesignate China as a “country of particular concern” (CPC) due to its systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. USCIRF also called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations against Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners.
In addition to his adoption into the RPOC Project, Adil joins 174 other Uyghur Muslims on USCIRF’s Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Victims List, a database providing information on a subset of individuals globally targeted and imprisoned due to their freedom of religion or belief.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at email@example.com.