China: Jailed Uyghur journalist confesses in Beijing’s propaganda video

Erkin Tursun, a Uyghur TV producer who has been detained in China’s Xinjiang region since 2018, appeared in a video in which he acknowledges wrongdoings and pleads mercy from Chinese authorities. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns Beijing’s use of propaganda videos to defend its abuse of human rights in Xinjiang and calls for Tursun’s immediate release.

Erkin Tursun. Credit: Twitter screenshot/ Arfat Erkin

On April 9, Chinese officials broadcast a video featuring Tursun’s confession during a press conference in Beijing, “I will try my best to change myself and receive the leniency of the party and the government” said Tursun. He also called on his son, Arfat Erkin, who is now living abroad and campaigning for Tursun’s freedom, to return to China.

Tursun is serving a 20-year sentence in Xinjiang on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination and covering up crimes” according to Beijing authorities. Tursun was previously a television host and producer with the state-owned Ili Television Station in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture.

On April 10, Erkin said via Twitter he was “relieved” to learn that his father is still alive, but at the same time, he was “saddened” as his father is almost unrecognisable in the video. The Uyghur student and rights activist said his mother, once detained in 2017, was forced to “speak against me” on a similar propaganda video two years ago.

The IFJ said: “Showing videos featuring Uyghurs making forced confessions has become a part of Beijing's propaganda tactics to defend its Xinjiang policy. The IFJ condemned Beijing’s continuous attempts to discredit Uyghurs in Xinjiang and abroad, including journalists, and it called for the immediate release of Tursun.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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