All posts tagged: Camp

“99 bad things”: A man’s 2-year journey through Xinjiang’s complex detention network

Editor’s preface: Three years after the start of the mass incarcerations in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, there are now dozens of eyewitness accounts testifying to the coercive, violent, and often cruel nature of Xinjiang’s “re-education initiative”. Among these, however, few are as informative, comprehensive, and detailed as Erbaqyt Otarbai’s, a Kazakh truck driver who – following a trip to Xinjiang in May 2017 – found himself caught up in the system for two full years, with the majority of the time spent in detention centers, “re-education” camps, a hospital, an improvised factory, and house arrest. His account – independently corroborated various times over by former cellmates, satellite images, and testimonies for victims that he met along the way – offers a rare and invaluable view of not only the system’s many facets but also of their evolution, from the initial beginnings of the incarcerations, to their intensification, and finally to the authorities’ very visible response to outside pressure, with the facilities being transformed and many inmates being released, yet others being given long …

17 years and 10 months. A Uyghur Son Learns of his Mother’s Prison Sentence 

It is likely that Aliyem Urayim was detained the moment she landed in China after visiting Eli in Turkey. “Your mother went to ´study.´” When Eli Yarmemet first received these words, he was convinced that it was a mistake and that she would soon be released from the reeducation camps. But three years on, the nightmare has just gotten worse, Eli recently learned that his mother has been sentenced to 17 years and 10 months in prison. The last time Eli Yarmemet saw his mother was in December 2016. Eli – an ethnic Uyghur from northwest of China currently living in Norway — traveled with his family to Turkey, where they met up with his mother and spent two weeks together. At that time the mass detentions in Xinjiang had affected the entire Uyghur population. It was not until April 2017 that Chinese authorities intensified a brutal crackdown on the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities who make up more than half of the region’s population. “Had I known anything about it I would never have …

“Because you had to do it very quickly, or you could be punished.”

The following is a summary of the interview with Xinjiang camp eyewitness Tursunay Ziyawudun, done at the office of the Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights organization on October 15, 2019. The summary and English translation were done by Kaster Bakyt. Gene A. Bunin did the English editing. After falling ill, Tursunay went back to China in 2016 for a gall bladder operation. The Kazakh government wasn’t allowing her to stay in Kazakhstan any longer, as she was there on a visitor’s visa and hadn’t been able to get either a residence permit or Kazakhstan citizenship (as she was Uyghur and her husband, though ethnically Kazakh, wasn’t a Kazakhstan citizen yet). She had lived in Kazakhstan for a total of 5 years. Upon their arrival in China, both she and her husband had their passports taken by the local authorities. She was later sent to a “school” for a month. Four months later, her husband got his passport back, with Tursunay being his “guarantor” so that he could go back to Kazakhstan. She was taken to a …