One of millions of Uighur and other Muslims in China’s Internment Camps
Feb 19, 2018
Jul 1, 2019
Dilshat Perhat Ataman is a Uighur Muslim from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of western China. During the late 2000s, he ran the popular Uighur-language website, Diyarim, which focused on social and cultural issues. In July 2009, riots erupted in the regional capital, Urumqi, after initially peaceful protests against the deaths of Uighur migrant workers in southeastern China. Chinese authorities began to indiscriminately round up, convict, and disappear hundreds of Uighurs. Mr. Ataman had tried to keep his website apolitical by removing posts critical of the Communist Party. Nonetheless, in July 2009, Chinese authorities arrested him. On July 30, 2010, Mr. Ataman was convicted of “endangering state security” and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. He was released in 2014.
Since April 2017, the Xinjiang regional government under Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo has detained Muslims in what authorities claim are “vocational” camps to stem domestic terrorism and religious extremism. The U.S. Department of State estimates between 800,000 and two million Uighur and other Muslims may be detained in these camps. There are credible reports that authorities have tortured detainees and attempted to force them to renounce Islam. Outside the camps, the government has created a comprehensive surveillance network to monitor sensitive locations, including mosques.
In June 2018, Chinese authorities detained Mr. Ataman and placed him into one of these camps. He has not been formally charged with any crime related to his detention.