Uyghur Student Confirmed Jailed After Forced Return From EgyptFebruary 24, 2021
A young Uyghur man has been confirmed imprisoned after being forced to return to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) for the “crime” of having studied abroad in Egypt, according to official sources.
Bakihaji Helil was handed a nine-year prison sentence in 2017 after returning home to Atush (in Chinese, Atushi), a county-level city of around 270,000 people that is the capital of Kizilsu Kirghiz (Kezileisu Keerkezi) Autonomous Prefecture in the cotton- and grape-growing region of southwestern XUAR.
The young man was among nearly 5,000 Uyghur students who were ordered back to the region from Egypt, where he was enrolled at Al Azhar University in Cairo, an independent researcher based in Turkey named Abdureshit Niyaz, who had previously lived in the North African nation, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
Repatriated as China ramped up repression in the region through a policies aimed at suppressing expression of religious and ethnic identity, many of the returned students were reportedly jailed soon after their arrival, although their sentences and locations have yet to be confirmed on any large scale.