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In July last year, Niyaze told The Associated Press that he was employed by the Xinjiang Economic Daily newspaper but had been forced into semi-retirement by the paper because of an article he wrote in March 2008 that was critical of Xinjiang’s then-Communist Party boss, Wang Lequan.

“In Xinjiang, especially, stability is the priority above all else,” Niyaze said at the time. “You are either being praised or promoted for contributing to it or being arrested for harming it. It’s love or hate and there’s no room for uncertainty, no third road.”