Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We’re a people destroyed. -an Uighur

Witness reports of life inside the camps and detention centres have told not only of unhealthy living conditions but also of regular violence, torture and brainwashing. 
Writing in the New York Times in February, James A Millward, a scholar who has researched Xinjiang for three decades, argued that the “state repression in Xinjiang has never been as severe as it has become since early 2017”.
For many, last spring would mark the start of a period of great loss – the loss of rights, livelihoods and identities.  Some would also lose their lives.  Karim was particularly vulnerable, as Uighurs like him, who have lived abroad in Muslim-majority countries, have been especially targeted in the government crackdown.  When I returned to the neighbourhood earlier this year I was told that Karim had been handcuffed, taken away and jailed – and that he had “died after prolonged heavy labour”.  ...
“Just look all around you.  You’ve seen it yourself [here in Kashgar].  We’re a people destroyed.”...
 My telling him that I had been kicked out of Kashgar seemed to trigger him, and he would go on to say many things about the situation there, virtually all of them taboo.
“Millions of Uighurs” were being held in camps, he told me, where they were being fed 15-year-old leftover rice and subjected to beatings.  (Precise numbers are hard to verify, but witness testimonies have confirmed both poor nutrition and violence in the camps.)  He said that the Uighurs in this inner-China city now had to attend political meetings, and that they might soon have to take a test on political subjects such as the 19th party congress.  Those who didn’t pass would be sent back to Xinjiang.
“When the police talk to us,” he said, “they are suspicious about everything:  ‘Do you smoke?  Do you drink?’  If you don’t, they’ll ask you why not.  They’ll ask you if you pray. They’ll ask you if you want to go abroad, or if you’ve previously applied for or had a passport.  If you look at the policeman, he’ll ask you what you’re looking at him for; if you look down at the floor, he’ll ask you why you’re looking down at the floor."
8-24-2018   But an employee at Toqsun’s Peyshenbe Bazar Police Station confirmed that the township currently maintains three re-education camps--the No. 1 Re-Education Camp, which is located “about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) outside of the township center;” the No. 2 Re-Education Camp, located “near the township’s depot;” and the Party School Camp.

“Approximately 22,000 people,” or more than 11 percent of the population of Toqsun, have been held in the three re-education camps, said the employee, speaking on condition of anonymity.  “I heard that a small number of people have been released, but I have never met any,” he added.

The employee said that “around 5,000” people are being held at No. 2 Re-Education Camp alone, after being transferred from a now-defunct fourth camp in nearby Tasheriq village, which was formerly a nursing home.  He said residents of Peyshenbe Bazar are being sent for detention to No. 1 Re-Education Camp--a three-story building that used to be the township’s No. 1 Middle School.

According to the employee, there is also a so-called “open” facility for daily re-education “classes,” which permits trainees to return to their homes in the evening, located alongside the No. 1 Re-Education Camp.

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