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Uighur Muslim Sentenced to Jail For Watching Movie

URUMQI – An ethnic Uighur Muslim has been sentenced to seven years in prison for watching a film on Muslim migration with his family which was deemed “sensitive” by Chinese authorities.

“All of them were over 40 years of age,” Hesen Eysa, security chief for Yasin’s Karasu village, told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“They had a farm, and they were struggling to survive and provide for their children’s education.”

“They showed no signs of opposing the government.  At least I never saw any signs of this,” he said.

Eysa was referring to Eli Yasin, a resident of Chaghraq township in Aksu prefecture’s Onsu county, who was sentenced in February after being held since May 2015.

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According to sources, authorities had suspected Yasin and family members who viewed the film with him of planning to go abroad “to wage jihad.”

During the past period, Yasin, his two sisters and the sisters’ husbands have been detained.

“As a security chief, I am having a hard time explaining these charges to the people in my village,” Eysa said.

“None of this makes any sense. It is very unjust,” he said.

Memet Toxti, a Uighur living in exile in Canada, said that the Chinese government’s policy of “stability at all costs” is the root cause of such family tragedies in Xinjiang.

“China wants Uighurs everywhere to know that the state is always watching them,” Toxti, a former deputy chairman of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said.

“Punishing entire families is a method commonly used to silence Uighurs before any acts of resistance can take place,” he said.