Abdughapar Abdurusul was arrested in July or August, his brother Abdusattar Abdurusul recently told media, citing Abdughapar’s Kazakh business partners living in Kazakhstan’s Almaty city. He said the latest he had heard was that his brother was given a death sentence and was waiting for his execution to be carried out. The reason for the sentence is that he went to Saudi Arabia to perform the annual Hajj on his own instead of joining a state-sanctioned tour group.
According to Abdusattar Abdurusul, his brother was sentenced to a group trial without having a lawyer which suggests that he had been illegally sentenced to death. According to Chinese law, all death sentences should be reviewed by the Chinese Supreme Court in Beijing but it is unclear whether Abdughapar Abdurusals case has been reviewed.
Father of four, owner of several businesses, Abdughapar Abdurusul, was known to be charitable and had spent money to build a mosque for the local community. He was living comfortably before he was arrested and all of his family’s assets, totalling approximately $14.4 million, were seized.
His eldest son, Awzer was detained in 2017 after returning home from Turkey where he was studying and his wife Merhaba Hajim was taken into custody in April 2018. Abdusattar believes that his sister Sayipjamal was missing for a long time and is thought to have been detained and several of Abdughapar friends have been sentenced to more than 18 years in prison.
Local police and staff at the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture’s Public Security Bureau have refused to answer to answer questions. A long-time friend who worked with Abdughapar and presently in exile called Abdusattar to inform him that he had heard of the sentencing and that his wife had died in custody.
The associate said that “more than 50” people in Abdughapar Abdurusul’s circle of friends—including several police officers—had been arrested and imprisoned before him, but that he was the only to have been sentenced to death.
When asked why Abdughapar Abdurusul might have been given such a harsh sentence, the associate said he was unsure, “but the Chinese government is killing Uyghurs for no particular reason.”
While Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps, the Uyghur chairman of Xinjiang’s provincial government, Shohrat Zakir, told China’s official Xinhua news agency last month that the facilities are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training for Uyghurs.
Investigations and reports by media and social activists have shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment or torture at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.
Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said that some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the camps—equating to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the XUAR.