CHINA-XINJIANG: FOUR WEALTHIEST UYGHUR BUSINESSMEN ARRESTED FOR RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Radio Free Asia reported on January 5, 2018 that the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region authorities had after seven months disclosed the arrest in Kashi city, Kashgar of Xinjiang's four wealthiest men for acts of “religious extremism”. RFA’s Uyghur Service said that Abdujelil Hajim, Gheni Haji, Memet Tursun Haji, and Imin Hajim—all successful business owners in Kashgar—were taken into custody in May 2017. Chairman of the Kashgar Prefectural Trade Association Abdujelil Hajim—who owns a firm that transports goods between China, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as large tracts of property in Kashgar and Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi—was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Gheni Haji, the owner of the Emin Trading Plaza at Kashgar’s Sunday Market; Memet Tursun Haji, owner of Eziz Diyar Plaza at the same market; and Imin Hajim, owner of the Ibnsina Dental Facility; were each sentenced to eight years in jail. RFA's source’s claims were verified this week by Yasinahun, the chief of security for Kashgar’s Chasa township, who confirmed that the four men topped the list of the city’s wealthiest Uyghurs. Kashi Security Chief Yasinahun added that “Gheni Haji, Imin Hajim, and Memet Tursun Haji had displayed signs of religious extremism, so they were arrested.  He said their activities were characterized as “abnormal” by authorities, adding “I was told that Memet Tursun Haji did not hold a funeral when his father passed away. Not holding a funeral is one of the signs of extremism. Gheni and Imin prayed only eight times at prayer service, not 20 as others usually do. That is also a sign of extremism.” Imin Hajim, Yasinahun said, is “a man of few words” who normally kept to himself, but had protested police searches of his home. “He expressed extreme displeasure with our visits to his house related to our security work and said, ‘I am a Chinese citizen, why do you conduct so many searches,’” he said. 





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