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Uighurs Still Censored and Detained Four Months After Riots

November 2, 2009

Four months after ethnic riots erupted in the Xinjiang region of China, Reporters Without Borders has found that the majority of websites operated by or geared toward the Uighur community are still being blocked.

The majority of people in the region still cannot access more than 85 percent of local webpages, nor can they send SMS messages or in some cases, even make phone calls. The Chinese government’s official reasoning for the censorship is to stop “terrorists”, which they say utilized these methods to initiate the riots in the first place.

“The official reason given for this blackout, that ‘terrorists used the Internet and SMS messaging,’ is unacceptable.,” says Reporters Without Borders. “Do the Pakistani or Afghan authorities suspend the Internet because terrorists sent email messages? No. The Chinese government seems more interested in preventing Xinjiang‘s inhabitants from circulating information about the real situation in the province, especially about the crackdown after the July riots.”

On top of the blatant censorship, many of the hundreds of people that were rounded up after the riots have yet to be charged or released.

Hailaite Niyazi, a Uighur journalist, was taken from his home a month ago today. His family was told that he was suspected of endangering national security, but they suspect the arrest is due to the interviews Niyazi gave to foreign reporters during the days following the riots.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.