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Abduweli Ayup is a linguist specializing in Uyghur language education. He is a strong proponent of linguistic human rights, specifically, the right for the intergenerational transmission of language and culture. From December 2005 to June 2006, Abduweli was a visiting scholar at Ankara University, Turkey. He later received a Ford Foundation fellowship to study at the University of Kansas in the United States, and completed his master's degree in Linguistics in 2011. Upon graduation, Abduweli returned to Xinjiang and opened schools to teach Uyghur language, his mother tongue.
Abduweli was arrested in Kashgar on August 20, 2013 by economic investigation team of Tianshan District, Ürümqi City and accused of false funding and illegally raising funds for his proposed schools. Along with him, Dilyar Obul and Muhemmet Sidik Abdurshit, two of his partners involved with the school, were also detained. Abduweli suffered through illness while in prison, where he was held incommunicado for nearly nine months. He was not formally charged until May 17, 2014, when he and his partners were accused of having collected "illegal donations" to support their school. After a one-day trial on July 11, on August 21 the court convicted Abduweli and his associates of having "committed a crime of abusing public money.". According sentence in writing, aimed at opening mother language school, Abduweli and two of his partners had illegally accepted 590,000 CNY (about $95,000)in deposits from 17 people. During case processing time no one among the 17 have asked for their money back.Despite all of that Abduweli was sentenced to 18 months in prison and fined $13,000. Colleagues and human rights organizations contend that Abduweli's punishment is part of a government plan to marginalize and displace the Uyghur language.
Abduwali was released on November 27, 2014, after his partners, Dilyar Obul and Muhemmet Sidik, appealed their verdict. Abduweli has returned to Kashgar, and continues to teach at his kindergarten, which his wife, Miraghul, operated in his absence.
The Linguistic Society of America and the Committee of Concerned Scientists has appealed the President of China to investigate the circumstances under which Abduweli Ayup was detained, and have petitioned for fair treatment as per China's obligations under International Law.
Supporters have created a Facebook page advocating justice for Abduweli.
- "Q&A With Student of Imprisoned Linguist Abduweli Ayup". Uyghur Human Rights Project. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Devotion to Language Proves Risky". The New York Times. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- "Uyghur Activist ‘Very Weak’ in Prison, Denied Family Visits". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- "Uyghur Language Activist Formally Charged, Thrown in Notorious Prison". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Uyghur Linguist, Two Associates Sentenced After One Year Detention". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Sentencing of Uyghur linguist, Abduweli Ayup politically motivated and highlights Chinese government assault on Uyghur language". Uyghur Human Rights Project. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
- "Chinese Court Frees Uyghur Linguist Following Appeal". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "LSA Advocates on Behalf of Detained Uyghur Linguist". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- "Uyghur Linguist’s Whereabouts Unknown Since Arrest for Attempt to Teach Language". Committee of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
- "Justice for Uyghur Linguist Abduweli Ayup".