Urgent Action: Uyghur Model Held Incommunicado for Months (China: UA 106.20)
August 24, 2020
Merdan Ghappar has not been seen or heard from since March 2020, after his messages and photos describing his poor detention conditions were shared on social media. Detained since January 2020, the authorities only recently disclosed that Merdan Ghappar is under “compulsory measures” on suspicion of assaulting health care workers. There are serious concerns for Merdan Ghappar’s wellbeing, as it is feared he is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
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Director Wang Xiaoming Kuqa County Public Security Bureau
Jiefang Lu, Kuqa Shi
842000 Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
People’s Republic of China
Ambassador Cui Tiankai Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 495 2266 I Fax: 202 495 2138
Email: [email protected][email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Director Wang,
I am writing to express my concern about Merdan Ghappar (麦尔丹 · 阿巴), a Uyghur model who has currently been placed under “compulsory measures” (强制措施). He was taken away in January 2020 in Foshan, Guangdong Province, and has not been seen or heard from since March 2020.
Messages from Merdan Ghappar that have circulated publicly on social media include distressing details and photos describing his poor detention conditions. He described overcrowding, poor hygiene, insufficient COVID-19 protection measures and screaming from a presumed interrogation room. A self-taken video from March 2020 showed him shackled to a bed in a room. No one has seen or heard from him since then.
I do not find it reassuring that Xinjiang authorities disclosed limited details about Merdan Ghappar’s situation only after his case was raised by the international media. According to their written statement, Merdan Ghappar was transferred to his hometown Kuqa by the authorities. He is apparently being held under “compulsory measures” for assaulting health care workers and was handcuffed to his bed to stop him from self-harm and overreaction against police.
I am concerned that Merdan Ghappar remains in detention solely because of the videos and messages he sent. With no access to his family, or a lawyer of his choice, I am also gravely concerned about his condition and wellbeing, as I fear he is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment in violation of international law.
I therefore call on you to release Merdan Ghappar or charge him promptly with an internationally recognized criminal offense and not for the peaceful exercise of his human rights and try him in line with international fair trial standards; and pending his release, disclose Merdan Ghappar’s whereabouts, allow him access to his family and a lawyer of his choice, and ensure he is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.