Gheyret Abdurahman, a 52-year old Deputy Head of the Linguistics Department at the Academy of Social Sciences of XinJiang was arrested along with other members of that Academy. His arrest is connected to his translation of Mo Yan’s novel The Red Sorghum Clan. Over a dozen staff of the publishing house which published the book were also detained. However, it appears that the real issue is Abdurahman’s ethnicity. CCS has written the President of China urging him to release Dr. Abdurahman.
The State Council General Office
Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the treatment of Gheyret Abdurahman, a 52-year-old deputy head of the Linguistics Department at the Academy of Social Sciences of Xinjiang, who was arrested in March along with other members of that Academy.
Apparently, his arrest is connected to his translation, five years ago, of the Mo Yan novel The Red Sorghum Clan. Over a dozen staff members of Kashgar Publishing House, which published this translation, have also been detained.
It appears that Gheyret Abdurahman is being punished simply because of his ethnicity. It is alleged that many Uyghurs have been sent to “programs” that constitute a grave violation of human rights. In 2001, China ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which, in Article 15, obligates your government to “recognize the right of everyone … [t]o take part in cultural life”. In 2007, China was one of the 143 states that voted to adopt the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By doing so, China recognized that indigenous peoples such as the Uyghurs have the right to “freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” (Article 3).
Your government appears to be ignoring these human rights that severely affect the Uyghur community. The disregard that your government has displayed towards the Uyghur community, including its most important scientists and scholars, is unacceptable.
As an emerging leader in the global academic and scientific world, it is critical that China be a leader in respect for human rights. The lack of respect for those rights when it comes to Uyghur scholars calls into question the legitimacy of China as a leader in academic and scientific endeavors on the world stage.
We urge you to release Gheyret Abdurahman immediately and unconditionally, and instead protect his right to pursue his important scholarly and cultural work. We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
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