A young Uyghur girl was recently found to have drowned in an area of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where many adults are being held in political “re-education camps” and cannot provide care for their children, according to sources.
A recent post on social media said that a “child’s body was recovered from a river” near a graveyard in the seat of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Ilchi district in May and brought to the Hotan People’s Hospital, without providing information about the victim.
While investigating the report, RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with a staff member at the hospital’s Epidemiology department who said he had no knowledge of the incident, while other sources at the Hotan City Women’s Union also were unable to offer any details about the case.
When RFA contacted the police department in Ilchi district, an officer said he had no specific information about the child but that his colleague, Ibrahim, had “dealt with the incident.”
Officer Ibrahim refused to take RFA’s calls, however.
Two Hotan-based sources, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, were able to provide a few more details about the incident.
One said the victim was “a girl … about five years old” from Ilchi district’s No. 3 Neighborhood Committee—also known as the Sultanim Neighborhood Committee—though they were unable to provide the child’s name.
“I heard that she died five or six days before her body was recovered,” the source added.
The second source told RFA that the girl had “died after falling into … a branch” of a river in Hotan.
The source was unsure of the girl’s name or when she had died.
When asked whether the young girl’s parents had been interned in China’s vast network of political re-education camps, where up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017, the source said they were unsure.
“We only heard that the missing child was recovered from a river,” the source said, adding, “We don’t know anything about the parents.”