At least 14 staff members of Kashgar Publishing House in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city have been arrested since 2017, including Haji Mirzahid Kerimi, an 82-year-old former editor for the company and celebrated poet. The renowned writer had routinely risked his freedom by penning the most comprehensive histories of figures who helped to establish a Uyghur kingdom in Central Asia between the 8th and 11th centuries.
Kerimi was sentenced to 11 years in prison, despite a serious health condition, because he wrote five books that were later blacklisted by the government and had delivered a “problematic” speech during an award ceremony for his poetry, sources told RFA’s Uyghur Service in late 2018. Reports that Kerimi had died on Jan. 9, 2021 recently began circulating on Uyghur-language social media and RFA was able to confirm that he passed away in prison while serving his latest term.
An officer at the Id Kah Police Station in Kashgar refused to discuss whether Kerimi had died or whether he had overseen security at his funeral, referring further questions to the local Public Security Bureau (PSB).