Category Archives: human dignity

RFA: Uyghur Chauffeur Dies Following Interrogation in Xinjiang Internment Camp

A Uyghur chauffeur has died while detained in an internment camp in Aksu (in Chinese, Akesu) city, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to local officials and a Uyghur exile group.

In July last year, Qaharjan Qawul, 41, was detained in one of the XUAR’s internment camps, where experts say up to 1.5 million people accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017, according to a recent report by the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF).

The report said that Qawul was arrested after authorities learned that more than a decade ago he had visited his mother and sister in Turkey—one of several countries Uyghurs are blacklisted from traveling to by Chinese authorities due to a perceived risk of religious extremism.

IUHRDF cited an unnamed source it said was “familiar with the case” as saying that Qawul passed out, ostensibly while being tortured, during an interrogation session in November 2018 and died after being taken to a nearby hospital.

RFA’s Uyghur Service contacted various staff members at the Aksu city Justice Bureau who refused to answer questions about Qawul’s death.

However, a Uyghur officer at the Jin Shui Road Police Station, which oversees Qawul’s neighborhood, confirmed that the chauffeur had died “in hospital,” although he did not know which one, and that his body had been returned to his family for burial.

“He was linked to people involved in political activities,” said the officer, when asked why he had been detained.

The officer’s supervisor refused to say whether Qawul had died as the result of an interrogation.

An officer at the Bazaarliq Police Station in Aksu told RFA that Qawul “was arrested by the State Security Police,” but could not provide the names of any of the officer involved.

A staff member from the Kang Wei Household Committee said the chauffeur was “taken away after it was learned that he called ‘key’ [blacklisted] families.”

“Among the three families he called, two of them were blacklisted,” he said, adding that “their family members were also arrested because there was a problem with information on their phones.”


Forced organ harvesting in China is six times what the government claims

The China Tribunal has just released its judgement on organ harvesting in China. After a year-long investigation, the independent London-based panel set out on June 17 that it has no doubt the organs of prisoners of conscience are being forcibly removed to service transplant operations.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the practice, the tribunal asserts that there’s enough evidence to decisively come to its conclusion. This includes extraordinary short wait times for organs, the large numbers of operations taking place, along with a lack of willing and eligible donors.

The tribunal estimates that between 60,000 and 90,000 organ transplants take place annually in the country, which is six to nine times more operations than the People’s Republic of China (PRC) officially admits are being conducted.

Chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, the China Tribunal also concludes that imprisoned Falun Gong practitioners are most likely the main source of organs. And there’s also mounting evidence that detained Uyghur people are increasingly being targeted for organ harvesting.


Fake tourists and car crashes: How China blocks reporters in Xinjiang

KASHGAR: The three men were so busy staging a fake car crash they failed to notice the very people they were trying to block: Foreign journalists heading towards one of China’s notorious internment camps.

A small truck slowly inched towards a car parked on the road before stopping – just short of contact – as the reporters drove past the scene.

The “accident” later drew a crowd of onlookers as a line of trucks queued down the highway. Police halted traffic, blocking the road leading towards the camp.
Though a botched attempt, this incident illustrates the great lengths Chinese authorities go to obstruct journalists from covering topics deemed sensitive in Xinjiang, a restive northwest region where large numbers of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up into re-education camps.

On a recent six-day trip to Xinjiang, AFP was able to document three of them – razor-wired complexes with imposing block buildings.

Read more at–how-china-blocks-reporters-in-xinjiang-11665928

HRW: How Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China

‘Reverse Engineering’ Police App Reveals Profiling and Monitoring Strategies

Chinese authorities are using a mobile app to carry out illegal mass surveillance and arbitrary detention of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region.

The Human Rights Watch report, “China’s Algorithms of Repression: Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App,” presents new evidence about the surveillance state in Xinjiang, where the government has subjected 13 million Turkic Muslims to heightened repression as part of its “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism.” Between January 2018 and February 2019, Human Rights Watch was able to reverse engineer the mobile app that officials use to connect to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), the Xinjiang policing program that aggregates data about people and flags those deemed potentially threatening. By examining the design of the app, which at the time was publicly available, Human Rights Watch revealed specifically the kinds of behaviors and people this mass surveillance system targets.


Globe & Mail: China denies holding Uyghur writer in a camp, said he was under surveillance for ‘illegal religious activities’

The Chinese government has denied details of a Globe and Mail story about the death of the Uyghur writer Nurmuhemmet Tohti while acknowledging that his movements were restricted and that he was placed under surveillance.

The Globe reported this week on relatives of Mr. Tohti living in Calgary who say they are anguished after learning from family in China that the 70-year-old died after his release from several months in custody last winter.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese embassy denied that Mr. Tohti had been arrested and detained in a camp. Instead, the statement said, Mr. Tohti “was asked to live at a designated place under surveillance by local public security.”


Latest News from Our Homeland (4)

I received some new information from our homeland through a “middle man” today: The Chinese government carried out the detention of the Uyghurs in 3 phases starting from 2017. In Phase 1, each township (??,??) was given a quota of 80 – 120 people. In Phase 2 each township got 150 people. In Phase 3, each got 230 people. If one multiplies 480 people/township by the total number of townships in East Turkestan, the total exceeds 6 million. Phase 3 of the detention process is still going today—The local governments are not only locking up new people, they called back the small number of the Uyghurs released before, and started to lock them again.

Also, the local governments opened up a “court office” in each concentration camp, and those offices are now giving out jail terms to the Uyghur detainees in large numbers every day according to a “look-up table”. The people “at the top” are getting from 15 years to life in prison, as well as death sentence, and all of the people who got jail sentences are being transferred to prisons.

The “most serious political and religious criminals” are being moved away from concentration camps at around 2:00am every morning, in an absolute silence. Other detainees learned about this only from noises of moving cars, and by noticing that some people got missing the next day. I was told that those people must be the ones being transported to other Han provinces, dispersed, executed in small groups of about 50 people each, or used for living organ business.

The Uyghur detainees are getting sick by large numbers, and the most of them are not allowed to see doctors and get treatment. So the detainees are dying by large numbers every day, mainly from stomach cancer, liver diseases and Tuberculosis 3.

Early this month, one branch of the Urumchi City government issued an announcement to its constituents stating that the population of Urumchi will be increased from the current 2.5 million to 10 million in 2020.

Today (June 25), the UN allowed the Vice Governor of “Xinjiang”, Aierken Tuniyazi, to address the UN Human Rights Council, letting him to tell the world that the Chinese government is treating all the Uyghurs in East Turkestan very well. Shame on UN! Shame on UNHRC!

Also today, the US government released a statement condemning the UNHRC and Vice Governor of “Xinjiang”. Than you, the US government!

–Erkin Sidiq. 25 June 2019

RFA: Xinjiang Vice Governor Paints Internment Camps as ‘Vocational Centers’ at UN Rights Council

The vice governor of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on Tuesday defended the government’s policy of incarcerating Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps, repeating for the United Nations Beijing’s claims that the camps are part of a vocational training program that is saving those influenced by religious extremism, but drawing criticism from rights groups who said the U.N. should not be used as a stage from which to promote state propaganda.

“By setting up vocational education and training centers in accordance with the law, we aim to educate and save those who were influenced by religious extremism and committed minor legal offenses,” Erken Tuniyaz, a Uyghur who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China’s XUAR Committee, told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Tuniyaz dismissed international condemnation of the camps, where experts say up to 1.5 million people accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017, saying that the facilities had allowed detainees to “break away from the spiritual control of terrorism and extremism, gain access to modern knowledge, and enhance their employability.”

He also hit out at nations, nongovernmental organizations, and media outlets that “ignored Xinjiang’s progress with regard to social stability and human rights.”

The vice governor said that people of all ethnic groups in the XUAR are “united as closely as the seeds of a pomegranate,” and stressed that freedom of religious belief is “protected by law” in the region, while vowing to promote sustained development of human rights there.

Tuniyaz’s comments came a day after U.N. human rights czar Michelle Bachelet opened the three-week rights council session on Monday by saying that she has continued to press China on issues related to the XUAR, including unfettered access to the region to investigate reports of persecution and suffering in the camps.

Earlier this month, after China’s ambassador to the U.N. invited Bachelet to visit the XUAR to “see for herself” what he called “education training centers” in the region, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told RFA’s Uyghur Service that she would not accept unless given access to the camps on her own terms.

If Bachelet accepts a trip to the XUAR, she would become the highest level U.N. official to visit the region.

Last week, Vladimir Voronkov, the U.N.’s under-secretary general for counter-terrorism, traveled to the XUAR on an official visit, drawing condemnation from Washington, which said the trip risks lending credence to China’s claims that detentions in the region are related to a counterterrorism issue, rather than a violation of human rights.

On Tuesday, the U.S.—which stopped attending the Human Rights Council last year after alleging that the forum is biased against Israel—called Tuniyaz’s appearance “an embarrassment” to the U.N. for providing “a representative of one of the world’s worst human rights abusers a platform for propaganda.”

Rights groups weigh in


RFA: Young Uyghur Tour Director Dies Under Questioning by Xinjiang Authorities: Mother

A young Uyghur woman who worked as the deputy director of a tourist agency in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has died while being questioned in official custody, according to a recording of her mother that was secreted out of the country by members of the Uyghur exile community.

Aytursun Eli, 35, had studied tourism and Japanese before accepting a position at the Hua An Tourism Company in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city and being promoted to deputy director, her mother, Patigul Yasin, said in a purported recording of an interview with the official Autonomous Regional Women’s Federation that was obtained by Washington-based International Uyghur Human Rights & Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF).

Authorities in the region had targeted the young woman after she returned from a work trip to Dubai, a country blacklisted by authorities for travel by Uyghurs due to the perceived threat of religious extremism, her mother said.

“It was on June 4, 2018, when she was called … to go to the police station,” Yasin explains in the recording, which was only recently smuggled out of the XUAR by a “Uyghur exile through various channels” before being passed to the Washington-based World Uyghur Congress, and published on IUHRDF’s website.

“We didn’t really pay much attention to it at the time … But on June 9, at around 11:00 a.m., two men came to our home.”

Yasin said the men asked her and her husband, Eli Ghopur, about what Eli did for a living and whether she ever showed signs of being medically unfit.

“If my daughter was unwell, how could she manage to help carry elderly tourists’ luggage, and assist them in climbing mountains and visiting various places,” Yasin said she told the men.

When she inquired whether Eli had fallen ill, the men told her, “Yes, a little bit,” and asked whether she would like to see her daughter.

“We were taken to the Yun Dong Hospital [in Kashgar], but when they saw my husband’s face and the state that he was in, they told him to sit down and not to go in, and took me inside on my own,” she said.

Yasin said that on arriving at the hospital, several people who she believed were plainclothes officers surrounded her and told her “not to shout out or cry.”

“Two men grabbed me by my arms and dragged me into the hospital … where I was made to sit at [a desk] with people standing on either side of me,” she said.

“A man arrived to sit opposite me and said, ‘We are going open up your daughter’s body … to carry out an autopsy. Should we proceed?’”

“I said, ‘Why would you do that? Did you kill her [in custody] and now you want to open her up here at the hospital?’”

According to Yasin, the two men grabbed her again and informed her that if she refrained from crying, they would allow her to receive Eli’s body at her home before they buried her.

“They dragged me into a room where my daughter’s body was—she was lying there like a beautiful statue and I began to caress her while screaming, ‘My child,’” she said.

“At that point, they pulled my hands very roughly away from her face, dragging me out of the room. I only had a chance to touch my daughter’s face, and was unable to see any other parts of her body.”

Yasin said the authorities claimed her daughter had a medical condition, and because she was so weak, she was “unable to cope with being questioned.”

But she rejected their explanation, saying that Eli would have been unable to perform her duties and receive promotions with the tourist agency if she was unwell.

“They forcibly took my hand and made me sign some documents,” she said, adding that she was also made to provide fingerprints before receiving a death certificate from the hospital.

Despite Eli’s achievements in her studies, the certificate said that she was a “farmer” who “had never been to school,” and claimed she suffered from four different heart conditions, including arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy, Yasin said.

RFA: Xinjiang Internment Camps, Rohingya in Myanmar Highlighted For Religious Repression: Report

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) detained ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in internment camps on a vast scale last year, while ramping up surveillance tactics to gain information about religion practices, the U.S. State Department said in an annual report released on Friday.

China’s government “detained at least 800,000 and up to possibly more than 2 million Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other Muslim groups” in camps and “subjected them to forced disappearance, torture, physical abuse, and prolonged detention without trial because of their religion and ethnicity since April 2017,” the State Department’s 2018 International Religious Freedom Report said.

The report, which included a separate section on the XUAR this year due to “the scope and severity of reported religious freedom violations specific to the region,” said that authorities in the region “maintained extensive and invasive security and surveillance, in part to gain information regarding individuals’ religious adherence and practices.”

The government cited concerns over the three evils of “ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism” as grounds to restrict religious practices of Muslims in the XUAR, and intensified detentions amid the implementation of a regional counterextremism regulation enacted in March 2017 and the National Counterterrorism Law, which addressed “religious extremism,” the report said.

Though Beijing initially denied the existence of internment camps, China has tried to change the discussion, describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization and help protect the country from terrorism.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Authorities punished people of all ages for praying and barred youths from participating in religious activities, including fasting, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the State Department said in its report, adding that China’s government also sought the forcible repatriation of Uyghur Muslims from foreign countries and detained some of those who returned.

In the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas of China, authorities continued to engage in “widespread interference in religious practices,” especially in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and nunneries, the report said, noting reports of forced disappearance, torture, physical abuse, prolonged detention without trial, and arrests of individuals due to their religious practices.

In other parts of China, a State Department-designated Country of Political Concern (CPC) since 1999, the government exerted control over religion and restricted activities and personal freedom of religious adherents when it perceived them as threatening state or ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interests, the report said, while only state-sanctioned religious groups were permitted to hold worship services.

The State Department noted reports of deaths in custody and that the government tortured, physically abused, arrested, detained, sentenced to prison, or harassed adherents of both registered and unregistered religious groups for activities related to their religious beliefs and practices.


RFA: Indonesia Inaction on Uyghurs Reflects Non-Interference Stance, China Cultivation of Islamic Groups-Report

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, has failed to stand up for the 1.5 million or more Muslim Uyghurs held in internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region because it rejects interfering in China’s affairs and its Muslim groups have been cultivated by Beijing, a Jakarta think tank said on Thursday.

The report, “Explaining Indonesia’s Silence on the Uyghur Issue” by the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), says Indonesians believe Chinese explanations that the mass detentions without due process are necessary for security and they doubt human rights reports and testimony by Uyghur diaspora representatives who have visited Jakarta to appeal for help.

“The systematic repression of China’s ethnic Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Autonomous Region has caused little angst in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country,” said the report.

“The Indonesian government by and large sees the Uyghur crackdown as a legitimate response to separatism, and it will no more interfere in China’s ‘domestic affairs’ than it would accept Chinese suggestions for how it should deal with Papua,” it said, referring to a long-running conflict for which Jakarta has been repeatedly accused of genocide.

“The fact that China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner and second largest investor adds to its reluctance to speak out, but economic considerations are not the major factor here,” it said.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held in detention camps since April 2017.

China has come under strong criticism, and calls for sanctions against officials responsible for the camps, from the United States and other Western countries. The Muslim world, with a few exceptions has remained silent.

Though Beijing initially denied the existence of internment camps, China has tried to change the discussion, describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization and help protect the country from terrorism.