The confirmation of the sentence comes on the heels of an RFA report confirming that scholar Abduweli Ayup’s niece, Mihray Erkin, had died at the Yanbulaq internment camp while being investigated by state security police in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture. Abduweli Ayup is the founder of Uyghur Hjelp, a Norway-based Uyghur advocacy and aid organization which maintains a list of detained Uyghur intellectuals.
Mihray Erkin was a graduate of Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University with a degree in plant biotechnology who had gone on to complete a related master’s degree in Tokyo University before becoming a researcher at Japan’s Nara Institute of Science and Technology. She returned to the XUAR in August 2019 after authorities in Kashgar pressured her parents to call her home.
In late 2020, RFA reported that Mihray Erkin was believed to have died while in detention in one of the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where authorities in the region are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention camps since early 2017. The report could not be independently confirmed at the time.