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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 11:01 GMT
China cuts Uighur's sentence
Rebiya Kadeer
Rebiya Kadeer had been a prominent ethnic leader in China
A Uighur millionaire jailed by China for allegedly endangering national security has had her sentence reduced, a US-based rights group said.

Rebiya Kadeer is now due to be released in August 2006, one year early, the Dui Hua Foundation said in a statement.

The move comes a week after the US State Department said China was "backsliding" on human rights, and ahead of the Chinese parliament's congress.

Rights groups and the US say Kadeer was sentenced on insufficient evidence.

The Uighur businesswoman, a prominent member of the Uighur ethnic minority in China's north-west Xinjiang province, was charged in 2000 with passing information to foreigners, separatism and attempting to overthrow the state, and sentenced to eight years in jail.

Transcripts of her trial centred on local newspaper reports on the treatment of Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang that Rebiya had sent to her husband in the US.

John Kamm, director of the Dui Hua Foundation, said that Kadeer would now be released in August 2006, or even earlier if she "continues to demonstrate 'genuine repentance and willingness to reform'".

Rights groups believe that Kadeer's prosecution was connected to her husband's political activism.

Sidik Rouzi, a former political prisoner who fled to the US in 1996, has publicly condemned China for its treatment of the Uighurs, who make up more than half the mainly Muslim population of Xinjiang.

Kadeer was also politically active. At the time of her arrest, she was on her way to meet a visiting delegation from the United States Congressional Research Service to complain about political prisoners in the province.

Before her arrest, Kadeer ran the 1,000 Families Mothers' Project, which helped Uighur women start businesses.

She was also a member of the Chinese Government's top advisory group and attended a UN women's conference in Beijing in 1995.

US officials have repeatedly raised the matter of Kadeer's arrest with the Chinese authorities.

The Chinese authorities have blamed Uighur separatists for a series of bombings and riots, which have led to hundreds of executions and arbitrary detentions over the years.


SEE ALSO:
Chinese activist on trial
04 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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