Tales of Uyghurs who disappeared overnight in Xinjiang

ANI
·4-min read
Uyghur-American activist Rushan Abbas, one among many activists who was targeted by the Chinese government for speaking about the state sponsored persecution in Xinjiang province.
Uyghur-American activist Rushan Abbas, one among many activists who was targeted by the Chinese government for speaking about the state sponsored persecution in Xinjiang province.

Washington DC [US], November 11 (ANI): The US Holocaust Memorial Museum here has recorded the tales of several Uyghur living in exile after fleeing Chinese state-sponsored persecution in Western China province of Xinjiang. The horrifying tales of oppression told by those who were lucky to escape are enough to bring humanity to shame.

The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Rushan Abbas, an Uyghur American activist, has disclosed the inhumane treatment meted out to Uyghurs in Xinjiang, saying that women are subjected to mental and physical torture, and are given unknown injections and medications.

"My only sister became the victim for my activism here in America [that I undertook] as an American citizen," said Abbas. "These two women got picked up on the same day as the Chinese government's way of sending me a loud and clear message to try to pressure me to be silent."

Abbas and her family are Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic minority who mostly live in the western China province. The Chinese government for decades has tried to forcefully assimilate Uyghurs by force into the country's majority Han cultural identity.

Another victim of Chinese oppression is 37-year-old Bahram Sintash.

Sintash a content producer at US-based Radio Free Asia has been searching for his 70-year-old father for around three years.

His father, Qurban Mamut is a well-known Uyghur journalist and was detained by the Chinese government a couple of months after returning home from a visit with his son in the United States.

"I don't know where exactly--he disappeared. I would sell my house to get my father back but this is different. He's kidnapped by a very powerful government and they don't need money," Sintash said.

Sintash never thought he would become an activist. In 2009, he attended a protest in Washington, DC, in response to the Chinese government's violent reaction to Uyghurs protesting persecution in Xinjiang. While voicing his dissent in DC, Sintash held the East Turkestan flag, which represents a movement seeking Xinjiang's independence from China.

"[Later that year] the police came to my parents' home and told them that they had a picture of me holding up the flag and attending protests," said Sintash. "They told my parents to tell me never to attend any political things. They threatened my family members to control me."

Besides Sintash, there is Mamatjan Juma whose life drastically changed after 2016.

Juma used to stay in regular touch with his family in Xinjiang. That changed four years back when the Chinese government started sending Uyghurs to detention centres and monitoring their everyday lives.

"My parents all of a sudden said, 'Don't talk to your brothers anymore,'" said Juma. "'Just talk to us and we'll send your greetings to them.'"

"Later on, I realized that two of my brothers were taken away by the government in May 2017 and my parents didn't and couldn't tell me that," he added. "They censored themselves because we knew that we could not ask certain questions unless it was about their daily lives."

"He is a very intelligent and a very principled person. I heard from a mutual friend that both my brothers were tortured the first time they were detained. My other brother, Abdukadir, was almost beaten to death. They never told me this because it could be seen as sensitive information and classified as a state secret. Of course it's a state secret because the Chinese government is torturing people," said Juma.

There are several other tales that speak about the horrors being faced by Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region.

Classified documents known as the China Cables, accessed last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, threw light on how the Chinese government uses technology to control Uyghur Muslims worldwide.

However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide "vocational training."

People in the internment camps have said they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings and denial of food and medicine, besides being prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language. (ANI)