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International PEN (PEN) has expressed alarm at the Chinese government's repressive measures against ethnic Uighur people in northwest China, including imprisoned writer Tohti Tunyaz, amidst criticism from Amnesty International (Amnesty) that authorities are using the "war on terrorism" as a pretext to further repression.

At PEN's 68th International Congress, held from 17 to 24 September 2002 in Macedonia, more than 300 writers passed a resolution urging the Chinese government to release Tunyaz and other imprisoned Chinese writers.

An Amnesty report released in September notes that China's crackdown on what the government calls "separatists, terrorists and religious extremists" in Xinjiang has intensified since the 11 September attacks on the United States. The organisation says there are "serious human rights violations" and Uighurs detained for political offences in Xinjiang are at "serious risk of torture or ill-treatment."

Meanwhile, authorities have stepped up efforts to repress all potential dissent and opposition activities, including the peaceful expression of views in poems, songs, books, pamphlets, letters, or the Internet, notes Amnesty.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has also raised concerns about China's treatment of Uighurs, saying "Uighurs in Xinjiang have struggled for cultural survival in the face of a government-supported influx by Chinese migrants, as well as harsh repression of political dissent and any expression, however lawful or peaceful, of their distinct identity."

At PEN's congress, delegates passed other resolutions calling attention to ongoing free-expression abuses in Armenia, Belarus, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Nepal, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam and Zimbabwe [See IFEX Action Alert:].

The congress also featured three sessions held by the Writers in Prison Committee where writers from Sierra Leone, Russia, Turkey and Kosovo shared testimonies of their struggles against censorship.

Visit these links:

- Amnesty's Report on China:

- HRW's report on Xinjiang:

- PEN's 68th Congress:

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