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Seven Uyghur staffers from sports school in Xinjiang serving up to 5 years in prison

Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region sentenced seven Uyghur teachers at a sports school in Kashgar to jail terms of four to five years, a local police officer and a person with knowledge of the situation said.

The police officer, who did not give his name, provided the names of the detained teachers at the Kashgar Sports School, which is located in the district his station patrols, but said he didn’t know the reasons for the arrests.

Uyghur instructors and staff members Adil Tursun, Amir, Osmanjan and Qeyserjan were arrested in early 2017, he said. Authorities later arrested the school’s Taekwondo trainer, Abduxkur, and math teacher, Esqerjan. Another employee, Nurmemet Yasin, was the last to be detained.

“I don’t know the last names of these teachers,” he said. “They were sentenced to four years or five years each for re-education. I don’t where they are now.”

Uyghurs comprised about 20% of the employees among the school’s total 60-some workers. The rest were Han Chinese, according to a Uyghur source who knows about the school.

“Osmanjan is around 42 or 43,” said a source familiar with the school staff, who did not want to be named. “Amir is the same age as Osmanjan. They graduated from the same class. Adil Tursun is about 45. We don’t know the reasons why they were arrested.”

An earlier RFA report confirmed that authorities arrested Alimjan Mehmut, a volleyball teacher at the Kashgar Sports School who served as a torchbearer for China’s 2008 Summer Olympics.

Mehmut was sentenced to eight years in a prison in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) for “befriending bearded men” under a deepening crackdown on Islamic practices and culture, according to information provided by the Norway-based rights organization Uyghur Hjelp, which documents missing and imprisoned Uyghurs in the XUAR.

“Alimjan Mehmut was arrested before I went to work at the school,” said the source. “It’s been two years since he was arrested.”

In RFA’s previous story, Aduweli Ayup, the Uyghur linguist who runs the Uyghur Hjelp website, said that Mehmut was one of at least six or seven instructors, including two volleyball coaches, from the Kashgar Sports School hauled away by authorities in past years.

At the time, Ayup also named Mehmut’s colleagues, Ezizjan and Ezisqari from the Kashgar Sports School among those arrested, though their detentions have not yet been confirmed by police.

Translated by RFA Uyghur. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.