In a startling case that sheds light on the challenges faced by individuals striving for internet freedom, Mehmut Memtimin, a Uyghur university student, has been serving a lengthy 13-year prison sentence since his arrest in 2017. The incident occurred in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, where authorities have been cracking down on Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.
Memtimin's offense? He dared to utilize a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent the strict internet censorship and access what the authorities deemed as "illegal information." Abduweli, a police officer connected to Xinjiang University, confirmed that Memtimin's arrest was based on his perceived threat to national security due to his VPN usage.
The severity of the punishment becomes apparent as Memtimin remains incarcerated in Tumshuq Prison, located in Maralbeshi county within the Kashgar prefecture. Prior to his arrest, he pursued a computer science degree at Xinjiang University's Institute of Information and Technology in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region.
It is important to note that Memtimin's case unfolded amidst a broader crackdown on Uyghur and Turkic minority populations, where alleged extremist behavior, overseas connections, and religious activities led to the detainment of individuals in "re-education" camps and prisons. Tumshuq Prison, where Memtimin now resides, has been the confinement site for many.
While VPNs are commonly used by Chinese citizens to navigate the confines of internet censorship, it is rare for individuals to face such severe repercussions. Memtimin's arrest was carried out forcefully by local police in his hometown of Qaghiliq, situated approximately 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) away from Urumqi, as documented by independent researcher Gene Bunin. Bunin, who spent nearly five years conducting research on the Uyghur language in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, operates the Xinjiang Victims Database, a platform that chronicles the experiences of detained Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities.
These distressing revelations highlight the ongoing struggle for online freedom and the right to access information. At ValeVPN, we firmly believe that every individual should be entitled to obtain the information they seek and freely express themselves online, regardless of geographical boundaries or political restrictions. Our mission is to provide secure and unrestricted internet access to people worldwide, empowering them to exercise their fundamental rights.
ValeVPN remains committed to championing online freedom and safeguarding the right to information, actively working towards a future where every individual can explore the boundless possibilities of the digital world.