For The Los Angeles Times ISTANBUL — The Turkish government deems Abdulkadir Yapcan too dangerous to attend his own extradition proceedings here. So instead he appears in court by video link from the detention center where he has been held for three years while he fights efforts to send him to China to face charges that he is a terrorist. During a hearing last month, he watched in silence until a witness referred to Xinjiang, the region in western China where members of the country’s…Continue Reading “Uighur dissident in Turkey fights effort to extradite him to China”

For The Nation ISTANBUL — Last February, after nearly four months of interrogations and being forced to sit through lectures extolling the greatness of the Chinese Communist Party, Khayrat Samarkand tried to kill himself in the cell he shared with a dozen other men. “I threw myself at the wall and hit my head repeatedly on it until the guards came,” he said. Samarkand’s injuries were so severe that after a day of treatment in a hospital, the guards simply let him walk out. He…Continue Reading “China Has Detained a Million Muslims in Reeducation Camps”

For The Los Angeles Times: Istanbul, Turkey — Adil Ahmad, 15, has had no contact with his parents since February 2017, when he received a frantic phone call from his mother in the Uighur homeland of China’s western Xinjiang region. “She said my father was in some kind of trouble with the police,” recalls Ahmad, whose parents had brought him and his older brother to Egypt to study Arabic. “She said, ‘Don’t come back to China.’” When Ahmad tried calling a few days later, none…Continue Reading “Uighurs abroad cut off from relatives in Chinese detention”

For Eurasianet: There was a time when Turkey felt like a safe haven for victims of political repression in Tajikistan. But the threat of attacks by groups like Islamic State and a state of emergency declared after a July 2016 coup attempt have changed all that. As well as embarking on a wave of arrests that put almost 50,000 Turkish nationals behind bars, the government has diluted the protections once afforded to foreign dissidents. Moreover, informal connivance among governments has eased the process of casting…Continue Reading “Turkey’s authoritarian turn deprives Tajiks of safe haven”

For The Los Angeles Times: The last time Anurkhol Bipolotov saw her husband, Fakhriddin, was across a street, outside a police station in Istanbul, on March 9. “He couldn’t speak, and I asked to speak with him, but they shouted, ‘You cannot speak.’ Then they sent him to Uzbekistan,” she recalled. “Now I have no idea where he is.” That night, Turkish counter-terrorism police conducted 10 simultaneous raids across Istanbul, based on an anonymous tip placed to a hotline set up to report suspicious activity….Continue Reading “Central Asian migrants caught in Turkey’s anti-terror raids”

For The Los Angeles Times Istanbul — Only one man has ruled the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Islam Karimov was the Uzbek leader even before independence, and he has held on to power for more than a quarter of a century with all the tools at a despot’s disposal, his many critics say. But Karimov’s grip on his country appears to be at an end, with persistent reports in recent days that he is…Continue Reading “Speculation swirls that the man who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist for 25 years may be dead”

Kyrgyzstan and the Islamists

For The Diplomat: While detained in a Kyrgyzstan prison cell, our reporter speaks with some former ISIS members. On October 7, a judge in southern Kyrgyzstan sentenced one of the country’s most prominent imams, Rashat Kamalov, to five years in prison for “inciting religious hatred” and “possessing extremist materials” – part of what prosecutors say was a scheme for sending recruits to Syria to join the Islamic State. Officials with the State Committee on National Security (GKNB), the successor to the KGB in Kyrgyzstan, say…Continue Reading “Kyrgyzstan and the Islamists”

For The Christian Science Monitor: Gilgit, Pakistani-controlled Gilgit-Baltistan — Pakistan’s disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region, located above India’s Kashmir Valley and the site of a bitter war between India and Pakistan in the late 1990s, is today ground zero for a pending China pipeline to the Indian Ocean – a $46 billion project that represents Pakistan’s largest-ever foreign investment. It was also the site of elections earlier this month that saw Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League take a majority in the 24-seat assembly. Pakistan says…Continue Reading “Great game: Polls in Pakistani Kashmir smooth way for epic China pipeline”

Why Baba Jan Won

For Tanqeed.org: GAKUCH, PAKISTAN — June 10, 2015 – Getting to Baba Jan was not an easy task on election day in Gilgit-Baltistan. Everything seemed fine as I handed over my belongings to the guard at the Damas jail in Ghizer district, until the prison’s deputy superintendent ran towards me. “I am sorry, but I do not want to get in trouble. This is a very sensitive issue and you need to get permission from the district commissioner.” So began a game of cat and…Continue Reading “Why Baba Jan Won”

Grief not justice for Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan

For IRIN News: OSH, 26 May 2015 (IRIN) – Zahira doesn’t like to return to the site, a concrete slab which covers the entrance to the cellar where her twin brother Hassan hid. “Most of us women and children went to camps at the border [with Uzbekistan], but the men stayed behind to protect our homes,” said Zahira*. Hassan was among them. “I called him around noon and he said they were hiding in the cellar. I called again at 5pm and no one answered.”…Continue Reading “Grief not justice for Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan”