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A Letter from A Prison Guard in the Newly Built Concentration Camp in Dawanching

The original letter (in Chinese) was posted online by Erkin Azat on May 12, 2019 (link). The letter has been translated into English by the Torchlight Uyghur Group.

Concentration camp in Dabancheng (Dawanching)

My name is Berik, I am a prison guard in the newly built concentration camp located in Dawanching (Dabancheng in Chinese). I was a cameraman before, filming wedding ceremonies but my business started going down after 2016. Applying for a police associate position became popular starting from 2017 and my mother also encouraged me to apply as advertised salary sounded reasonable. Soon after becoming a police associate I regretted choosing this position. There were no holidays and our salaries were subjected to cut frequently. Sometimes the salaries were delayed for several months. Working under a 24-hour highly stressful environment brought me a number of health problems like sleep disorder.

 

During the 2nd half of 2018, I was transferred to the newly built concentration camp in Dawanching and I was assigned to work in the security camera control room since I had some previous experiences with cameras. I was responsible for night shift. Despite working in the control room there were numbers of security cameras monitoring our every single action. We were “not allowed to leave the position anytime, not allowed to sleep, and not allowed to move”.  We had to concentrate on screens and monitor every single situation. If we had any mistake because of our carelessness we would be punished. A light punishment would be deduction of one-month salary and heavier punishment would be to get “reeducated together”. So, we always felt like we were in prisons cells not in the control room.

The following is the daily routine for the prisoners:

  • 5:00                     Getting up and morning run in the field
  • 7:00                     Breakfast
  • 8:00 – 12:00          Chinese education class, Political study, Law study
  • 12:00 – 14:00        Lunch time and break
  • 14:00 – 18:00        Continuing study
  • 19:00                   Dinner
  • 20:00 – 22:00        Self study
  • 23:00                   Clean up the dormitory and go to bed

The security cameras could not cover every single corner and there could be blind spots. We gave warning about the blind spots to the prisoners and some prisoners would sneak into the blind spots to smoke. Cigarettes were smuggled into the camps and the prisoners would be severely punished if they were found smoking. At the beginning, the management of the concentration camp was very tight, but after a while people got used to it.

We have a “couple’s room” where prisoners and their spouses are allowed to meet on a regular basis to “do private things”. One day during the winter, a prisoner was locked into solitary for 24 hours after he met his wife in this room; he subsequently lost all his future privileges of meeting his wife again. Actually, surveillance camera in the couple’s room was recording everything: His wife was wearing two layers of woolen inner pants and she gave one to his husband to wear. The prisoner didn’t know the surveillance camera was recording and thought it was ok. Later my coworker responsible for the day shift received a bonus for finding out this “crime”.

One day, more than 3,000 high school girls, all of them are around the age of 18, were transferred to the Dawanching concentration camp, right after the camp’s expansion.  One of the girls who was standing in the first row, quietly said to me: “Brother, you can do anything to my body, as long as you can rescue me from here”. I couldn’t look into her eyes at that time, and her words echo almost every day in my ears ever since.

Sometimes officers would visit our monitoring room to “inspect” our work. In fact, they are choosing “girls”. They would ask us to zoom the camera in on girls’ faces, and even would half-jokingly ask me to choose the most beautiful one for him, which I euphemistically rejected at the time. After selecting the girl, they would let the subordinate staff to bring the girl to the “office” for a “talk”. The “office” actually is employee’s kitchen.  Because there is no camera there, and the “talk” generally is during the daytime, not at night, everyone knows what will happen to the girls. There are two tables in the kitchen, one table is for snacks and liquors, and the other one is for “doing things”. Most of the time, the officer would rape the selected girl alone. Sometimes, if he is high, he would let subordinates gang rape the girls after him. After they are done, the girl would be returned back to the cell. The girl wouldn’t say anything, but I could see her tears from the camera. In the cells, they are not allowed to cry, not allowed to express their emotions, and not allowed to talk.  Because of those restrictions, they can’t vent their emotions, so their mood can be extremely dreadful.

Our canteen tableware is made of plastic to prevent self-harm, but once a prisoner broke down emotionally, and after smashing the tableware, he tried to cut his abdomen with a sharp corner, but failed, and was sent to a mental hospital.

One time, two guys were caught fighting inside the cell. They knew there was a blind spot in the cell, but their arms were caught by the camera. Later they were punished by forcefully sitting on “the tiger chair”, prevented from food for 48 hours, and even had to pee on the chair.

In the Dawanching camp, young and middle-aged prisoners receive an injection every month, while the elderly only takes a single injection when they enter the concentration camp. The camp authorities say that it is to prevent cold or flu.

As guards, we are also required to memorize legal and political doctrines and go through regular assessments. It will be very dangerous if our results are unsatisfactory.

One day, I had some guests at my house. Maybe because our voice was a bit loud, an old Han Chinese man who lives downstairs called the police and threatened to send us all into camp for “learning”. Fortunately, I was also a “policeman”, and the police officers arrived also knew me.  As a result, we were able to persuade the old man and signed a letter of guarantee for him. If I were an ordinary person at that time, I would definitely have been sent to the concentration camp only for the reason of being “noisy.”

Uyghur News (Friday, Apr. 12, 2019)

Most links listed below can also be found at:  http://uyghuremergency.org/

[*] As Many as 1,200 Uyghur Detainees Held in Gansu Prison After Secret Transfer From Xinjiang https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/transfer-04122019132218.html

[*] East Turkestan: US Lawmakers Demand Sanctions on China Over Rights Violations of Uyghur Community

https://unpo.org/article/21457

[*] Organ Harvesting Tribunal 2019

https://bitterwinter.org/organ-harvesting-tribunal-2019/

[*] Standing for religious freedom

http://disq.us/t/3dl28i4

[*] Microsoft’s work with Chinese military university raises eyebrows

https://mol.im/a/6915029

[*] Andrew Ireland: Use trading power to aid persecuted Muslims in China

https://www.ibj.com/articles/73268-andrew-ireland-use-trading-power-to-aid-persecuted-muslims-in-china

[*] Chinese Nationalists Swarm Uighur Websites to Defend Muslim Detention http://bit.ly/2Kv70Wg

[*] TV news’ media blackout on Xinjiang aids Chinese repression –

https://go.shr.lc/2UMRxVq

Uyghur News (Thursday, Apr. 11, 2019)

Most links listed below can also be found at:  http://uyghuremergency.org/

[*] China’s hi-tech war on its Muslim minority https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/apr/11/china-hi-tech-war-on-muslim-minority-xinjiang-uighurs-surveillance-face-recognition

[*] NZ attack used to justify China’s Muslim crackdown https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/04/11/532993/nz-attack-used-to-justify-chinas-muslim-crackdown

[*] Jews must speak up for the Uyghurs in China

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/jews-must-speak-up-for-the-uyghurs-in-china/

[*] In Xinjiang, China’s detention camps more than follow in the Soviet Union’s footsteps

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-in-xinjiang-chinas-detention-camps-more-than-follow-in-the-soviet/

[*] ‘Uyghur people fighting for their basic rights and for greater democracy in China’ https://www.nepal24hours.com/uyghur-people-fighting-for-their-basic-rights-and-for-greater-democracy-in-china/

[*] China’s Crackdown on Uighurs in Xinjiang

https://on.cfr.org/2UJuWJm

[*] “CCP Orphans” in Kazakhstan: We Want Our Parents Back!

https://bitterwinter.org/ccp-orphans-in-kazakhstan-we-want-our-parents-back/

Uyghur News (Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019)

Uyghur News (Wednesday, Apr. 10, 2019)

Most links listed below can also be found at:  http://uyghuremergency.org/

[*] BIG BROTHER WATCHING Chinese cops send people to ‘concentration camps’ if they’re found with Facebook on phones during random stop and searches https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8827966/chinese-cops-concentration-camps-facebook-stop-search/

[*] Reports: After Years of Bulldozing Churches, China Targets Mosques

http://bit.ly/2UPnwnK

[*] China: Muslim Camps Needed to Prevent Another New Zealand Massacre http://bit.ly/2KnloQ5

[*] Pompeo: China’s Oppression of Religion Reaches ‘Historic Proportions‘

http://bit.ly/2UQkmjy

[*] EU calls out China on human rights but doesn’t push on Xinjiang and Tibet https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/3005510/eu-calls-out-china-human-rights-stops-short-pressing-beijing

[*] In response to WSJ reporting, Chinese authorities defend razing of Muslim neighborhoods and accuse critics of ‘slanderous fabrication’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-stresses-investment-invokes-new-zealand-massacre-in-defending-treatment-of-muslims-11554890402

[*] ‘WE NEED TO KEEP OUR LANGUAGE ALIVE’: INSIDE A UYGHUR BOOKSHOP IN ISTANBUL https://psmag.com/ideas/inside-a-uyghur-bookshop-in-istanbul

[*] China is re-educating its minorities https://theaseanpost.com/article/china-re-educating-its-minorities

[*] The Human Rights Catastrophe in China That We Should Be Talking About https://nyunews.com/ops/2019/04/10/khosravi-uighur-muslims-in-china/

[*] Blogger says Chinese Facebook users are sent to ‘concentration camps’ https://mol.im/a/6908551

Uyghur News (Tuesday, Apr. 9, 2019)

Most links listed below can also be found at: http://uyghuremergency.org/

[*] With Pressure and Persuasion, China Deflects Criticism of Its Camps for Muslims
https://nyti.ms/2G0osfO

[*] Will the US continue to put national interest over China’s human rights
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/04/09/will-us-continue-put-national-interest-over-chinas-human-rights-violations/

[*] Hundreds Rally in Support of Sanctions Against Chinese Officials Over Rights Violations in Xinjiang
https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/rally-04092019144446.html

[*] China, EU agree to strengthen trade relationship
https://apnews.com/999a5739112b4ccdbe732cdf4c4156de

[*] Uyghurs Sent out of Shandong Ahead of Xi Jinping’s Visit
https://bitterwinter.org/uyghurs-sent-out-of-shandong-ahead-of-xi-jinpings-visit/

[*] Global silence on China’s gulag | Brahma Chellaney |
https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/global-silence-on-chinas-gulag/

[*] Panel Explores Uyghurs’ Plight – Human Rights – WRMEA
http://disq.us/t/3dh90yj

[*] This Man’s Aunt Was Jailed Days After He Met With Mike Pompeo Over China’s Muslim Crackdown
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/meghara/uighurs-china-mike-pompeo

[*] Cameras linked to Chinese government stir alarm in U.K. Parliament
https://interc.pt/2UO2BSk

[*] Uighur Muslim crackdown expands to Beijing and Shanghai [@The_NewArab] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/indepth/2019/4/8/uighur-muslim-crackdown-expands-to-beijing-and-shanghai

Events:

[A]
21st EU – China Summit: Tibetans and Uyghurs Demonstration
On Tuesday 9 April, UNPO along with FIDH, ICT and the WUC will hold a demostration during the 21st EU – China Summit in Brussels, the heart of the European Union.
https://unpo.org/article/21451

[B]
Hidden from View: China’s Repression of Uyghurs
Tue May 07, 2019 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
https://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/event/hidden-view-chinas-repression-uyghurs/

Uyghur News (Monday, Apr. 8, 2019)

 

Most links listed below can also be found at:  http://uyghuremergency.org/

[*] Universities should not ignore China’s persecution of scores of leading academics (opinion)

https://ihenow.com/2Kj1TZ9

[*] Building a Coalition Of The Willing To Address Human Rights Violations In Xinjiang

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviaenos/2019/04/08/building-a-coalition-of-the-willing-to-address-human-rights-violations-in-xinjiang/#6da09bc3f931

[*] The future of the fight to preserve Uyghur culture

https://supchina.com/2019/04/08/the-future-of-the-fight-to-preserve-uyghur-culture/

[*] Satellite imagery shows China is systematically destroying Uyghur mosques

https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/satellite-imagery-shows-china-is-systematically-destroying-uyghur-mosques-3478497

[*] Freedom of religion in China: Silence is not golden (@ParliMag)

https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/opinion/freedom-religion-china-silence-not-golden

[*] Call to Action: Time to Increase Pressure to Save Uyghurs

https://bitterwinter.org/time-to-increase-pressure-to-save-uyghurs/

[*] China harvesting Uyghur Muslim organs in concentration camps, surgeon claims

https://www.islam21c.com/news-views/china-harvesting-uyghur-muslim-organs-in-concentration-camps-surgeon-claims/

[*] Tribunal Hears Evidence on Forced Organ Harvesting in China

https://www.ntd.com/tribunal-hears-evidence-on-forced-organ-harvesting-in-china_313338.html

[*] China’s relentless persecution of ethnic minorities abroad- ucanews.com

https://www.ucanews.com/news/chinas-relentless-persecution-of-ethnic-minorities-abroad/84877

[*] In Washington: Hundreds of People Protest for Chinese Uighurs

http://bit.ly/2UIqCKg

[*] The brutal massacre that started 29 years ago…and it’s still going on today | Opinion | Lifesitenews

https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/the-brutal-massacre-that-started-29-years-ago-and-its-still-going-on-today

[*] Uighur Muslims continue to suffer in China

https://thekashmirimages.com/2019/04/09/uighur-muslims-continue-to-suffer-in-china/

[*] State Media China Creating a Branch of Islam ‘Fitting Chinese Culture‘

http://bit.ly/2UH4XlK

[*] Global Silence on China’s Gulag by Brahma Chellaney @ProSyn

http://prosyn.org/5DJow4K

[*] China?s oppression of the Uighurs: Save our Turkic brothers, Mr. President! – Qantara.de

https://en.qantara.de/content/chinas-oppression-of-the-uighurs-save-our-turkic-brothers-mr-president

Events:

[A]

21st EU – China Summit: Tibetans and Uyghurs Demonstration

On Tuesday 9 April, UNPO along with FIDH, ICT and the WUC will hold a demostration during the 21st EU – China Summit in Brussels, the heart of the European Union.

https://unpo.org/article/21451

[B] 

Hidden from View: China’s Repression of Uyghurs

Tue May 07, 2019 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

https://www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/event/hidden-view-chinas-repression-uyghurs/

 

RFA: U.K. Would be ‘Irresponsible’ to Allow Huawei to Bid For 5G: Think Tank


A former British diplomat called on Wednesday for Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to be excluded from bidding for the next generation of 5G mobile technology contracts, saying allowing such a move would be “irresponsible.”

In a report for defense and security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Charles Parton warned against Beijing’s “rigorous, ruthless advancement of China’s interests.”

“Allowing Huawei’s participation is at best naive, at worst irresponsible,” Parton wrote in the report, citing China’s history of cyber attacks as an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s interference in other countries.

“The history of China’s cyber attacks shows that an integral part of CCP interference abroad is getting access to a wide variety of information, whether related to industry, commerce, technology, defense, personal details or politics,” Parton wrote.

more

RFA: Uyghur Businessman Dies While Detained in Xinjiang Political ‘Re-education Camp’

A middle-aged Uyghur businessman has died under mysterious circumstances while in detention at a political “re-education camp” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to local officials.

A post recently shared within the Uyghur exile community on social media indicated that Weli Memet, a healthy 55-year-old, died in late December last year while held at a “re-education camp or prison” in his home city of Atush (in Chinese, Atushi), in the XUAR’s Kizilsu Kirghiz (Kezileisu Keerkezi) Autonomous Prefecture.

Since April 2017, authorities have detained up to 1.1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in a vast network of re-education camps throughout the XUAR.

According to the post, which was made by an anonymous source claiming to be a fellow businessman from Atush, Memet was “martyred” in detention, and his family was informed about his death on Dec. 27 or 28, while “100 to 200 armed police officers encircled the neighbourhood to contain any emotional disturbance.”

It said that Memet’s body was never turned over to his family, possibly because he “suffered severe torture and was cremated afterwards” or “his internal organs were harvested for transplants,” and his relatives were prevented from holding a prayer service in the absence of performing funerary rights for his remains.

The author of the post did not say what Memet had been accused of that led to his detention, nor did he provide any evidence for the claims about why authorities refused to hand Memet’s body over to his family.

RFA’s Uyghur Service called two different police stations in Atush, but officers who answered the phones there said they were unaware of Memet’s case.

When asked what jurisdiction the case of Memet “who died in a re-education camp last month” fell under, an officer at the Atush city police department told RFA that it had been handled by “the Azaq district police station,” but an officer at the Azaq station hung up the phone when asked for comment.

The head of Memet’s home district of Azghan in Atush acknowledged that Memet had grown up in the area and was the son of a former head of the district.

RFA also contacted two ruling Communist Party cadres from Azghan, one of whom said he believed Memet was taken to a re-education camp because he “sent his children for religious studies” with a local cleric around a decade earlier.

The other cadre told RFA Memet was sent to a camp around Nov. 16, and that he had seen him there.

The second cadre said Weli Memet was “once strong and healthy,” but had become “thin and pale” before he died, due to poor food and conditions at the camp.

“Five or six people have already died” at local camps, he added, without providing further details.

Uyghur sources in exile who were familiar with Memet told RFA that he was “a well-respected man who had a strong sense of responsibility for the community” and would always go out of his way to resolve an unjust situation, suggesting that his outspoken nature may have made him a target of authorities at the camp.

more

US Lawmakers Reintroduce Legislation to Sanction China Over Abuse of Uyghurs in XUAR

A photo posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration shows Uyghur detainees listening to a speech at a re-education camp in Hotan prefecture's Lop county, April 2017.A photo posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration shows Uyghur detainees listening to a speech at a re-education camp in Hotan prefecture’s Lop county, April 2017.

Read more: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/legislation-01182019164708.html

List of Uyghur Intellectuals and Well-Known Persons Imprisoned In China from late 2016 to the present

List of Uyghur Intellectuals and Well-Known Persons Imprisoned In China from late 2016 to the present