Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 13:54 GMT

China: Information on Islamic Reformist Party or Islamic Isalahatcilar

Publisher United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
Author Resource Information Center
Publication Date 10 October 2002
Citation / Document Symbol BCIS Resource Information Centre
Cite as United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, China: Information on Islamic Reformist Party or Islamic Isalahatcilar, 10 October 2002, BCIS Resource Information Centre, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3f51eeda4.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Query:

Provide information on a group in China's Xinjiang region called either the Islamic Reformist Party or Islamic Isalahatcilar.

Response:

SUMMARY

Chinese officials in the 1990s executed or jailed several Uighur Muslims for alleged links to a group called the Islamic Reformist Party in China's northwestern Xinjiang region, according to Amnesty International. As part of its recent efforts to link Uighur separatism in Xinjiang to pan-Islamic terrorism, Beijing in 2002 blamed the Islamic Reformist Party – among other Uighur groups – for what it called terrorist acts in Xinjiang in the early 1990s.

The Resource Information Center found little information on the Islamic Reformist Party's aims, activities, or membership.

The RIC also found no references to an Islamic Isalahatcilar group.

BACKGROUND

At least seven men were executed in the mid-1990s for alleged links to the Islamic Reformist Party, according to a May 1995 public notice in Xinjiang obtained by Amnesty International and detailed in an April 1999 report (AI 1 Apr 1999). The notice, posted in a court in the Xinjiang city of Urumqi, announced that five young Uighurs had been executed in a single day for being members of the Islamic Reformist Party and planting bombs in the city in 1992. The notice also referred to another alleged Islamic Reformist Party member, Mahammat Yunus, along with the note, "already shot dead" (AI 1 Apr 1999). A seventh alleged Islamic Reformist Party member, a Uighur named Obulkasim Yusuf, was also listed as having been "shot dead" (AI 1 Apr 1999).

Amnesty International said that it received a written account from a Uighur prisoner stating that Obulkasim had been shot dead in his cell in 1994, along with three unidentified Uighur political prisoners who had tried to protect him (AI 1 Apr 1999).

Amnesty provided few personal details about the executed men, other than that Obulkasim reportedly was born into an educated family in Aksu district in Xinjiang (AI 1 Apr 1999).

The executed prisoners were among a group of Xinjiang men who were arrested in August 1992 in connection with an alleged attempt to establish the Islamic Reformist Party. At least two who were not executed were instead sentenced to prison (AI 1 Apr 1999).

One of the two, a Uighur named Abdul Hemit, was sentenced in 1993 to seven years in jail, according to the Amnesty International report. The other, identified only as Mutalip, was serving a ten-year prison term when the report was released in 1999 (AI 1 Apr 1999).

The August 1992 crackdown followed the November 1990 arrest of another Uighur, Abdukiram Abduveli, who was sentenced in 1993, following a closed trial, to 12 years in jail for his alleged role in setting up the Islamic Reformist Party, according to an October 1999 Amnesty International report (AI 1 Oct 1999). Reviewing the circumstances surrounding Abduveli's arrest, charge, and trial, Amnesty International concluded that, "the evidence against him appears to have been manipulated in order to ensure his conviction" (AI 1 Oct 1999).

Abduveli and four other Uighurs allegedly formed the Islamic Reformist Party in October 1990, and reportedly planned to hold the party's first meeting in February 1991. Abduveli also was convicted of "carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation" (AI 1 Oct 1999). The latter charge referred to his alleged advocacy of violence and efforts to spread Islam. The four other alleged organizers were detained in 1992, according to the report (AI 1 Oct 1999).

Taken together, the two Amnesty International reports do not make it clear whether any of the four Uighurs referred to in connection with Abduveli's case were among those known to have been executed or jailed (AI 1 Apr 1999; AI 1 Oct 1999).

The Chinese Government has linked the Islamic Reformist Party to terrorism not only in the 1995 public notice, but also in at least two official reports. A January 2002 report cited the "Shock Brigade of the Islamic Reformist Party" as an example of Uighur "terrorist forces" that had set up "training bases" in Xinjiang (BBC 21 Jan 2002). The report accused the group of training more than 60 terrorists at a camp in Basheriq township in Yeching county. "Most of the trainees later participated in the major terrorist activities, such as explosions, assassinations and robberies, from 1991 to 1993 in various parts of Xinjiang," the report said (BBC 21 Jan 2002).

Released as the global campaign against pan-Islamic terrorism was intensifying, the report highlighted some of the more than 200 violent incidents in Xinjiang between 1990 and 2001 that Beijing characterizes as terrorism (BBC 21 Jan 2002).

Earlier, an official 1994 report on "Pan-Islamism and Pan-Turkism" blamed the "Islamic Reformist Party of East Turkestan" for the 1992 Urumqi bombings. East Turkestan is the name of two short-lived, independent republics set up in 1933 and 1944 in what today is China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (AI 1 Apr 1999).

The Islamic Reformist Party is not on the U.S. State Department's August 2002 list of "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" (U.S. DOS 9 Aug 2002).

There were no references to a Xinjiang group called Islamic Isalahatcilar in information currently available to the RIC within time constraints.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References:

Amnesty International (AI). GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE XINJIANG UIGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION (1 Apr 1999). http://web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGASA170181999 [Accessed 9 Oct 2002]

Amnesty International (AI). GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE XINJIANG UIGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION: PRISONER PROFILES (1 Oct 1999). http://web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGASA170361999 [Accessed 9 Oct 2002]

British Broadcasting Corporation Monitoring (BBC). Xinhua News Agency. "China's State Council Issues Article on East Turkestan ‘Terrorist Forces'" (21 Jan 2002) - WESTLAW.

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). "Foreign Terrorist Organizations" (9 Aug 2002). http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2002/12389.htm [Accessed 8 Oct 2002]

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