Kazakh prisoner risks life to expose atrocities

Monday, June 4, 2018

This photo was taken outside of a camp dedicated
to imprisoning ethnic minorities, located in Lopnur,
Xinjiang. (Photo: ChinaAid)

(Ili Kazakh, Xinjiang—June 4, 2018) Under extreme danger to himself, a prisoner just released from a so-called “political training center” in China’s northwest Xinjiang described the unspeakable atrocities he and others experienced.

Risking his own life, a Kazakh prisoner who was just freed from a jail known for subjecting ethnic minorities to harsh treatment told ChinaAid that people inside such centers, officially dubbed “political training centers,” were only allowed three steamed buns per day. “We didn’t get to eat any proper food. During the Spring Festival, we ate dumplings made by Han people, and it was the only time that we didn’t starve. Many prisoners told me that they didn’t know why they were arrested.”

“We were forced to learn Chinese and sing the national anthem from dawn to dusk,” he said. “We couldn’t leave the cell during the daytime, either. We couldn’t breathe fresh air or see the sun. many people got sick. Additionally, the inmates couldn’t inquire about each other’s family or the crimes [they supposedly] committed. Most of the prisoners are at the brink of insanity.”

Additionally, he said the prison officials limited them to two hours of sleep each night. Everyday, another prisoner would wake them when their time was up, a system the guards claimed prevented suicide.

“[We prisoners would] rather be sentenced to 10 years in prison,” he said. “If we have a definite sentence, we can at least sleep properly. We would rather do heavy work than be tortured for no reason.”

He also said many of them tried to commit suicide.

Police arrested the informant in June 2017 and held him for a year without revealing the reason behind his arrest. After his release, he was forced to sign a guarantee that he would never speak of what occurred in the detention center. He told ChinaAid that the government also takes one family member hostage once they release a prisoner and will torture the person to death should the freed person ever speak about the camp.

“That’s why many people don’t talk about what they have been through after being released,” he said. “They don’t even talk [if] they flee to Kazakhstan.”

Another anonymous Kazakh said the Xinjiang government issued a “Personal Information Form” for each Kazakh and Uyghur resident. The form contains information on every single member of the person’s family. If someone talks about “political training centers” after being released from one, every person on the form will be subjected to abuse.

The Chinese government uses “political training centers” as part of a larger crackdown on predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, including the Kazakhs. Officially, the government says it is doing so to in order to squelch terrorist efforts, but the qualifications for arresting an ethnic minority are arbitrary, and regions have even imposed arrest quotas for officers to meet. As a result, the majority of prisoners in the centers are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who have been racially and religiously profiled.

In order to prevent news of the atrocities leaking out of the region, the government has closed travel to Shawan County, Emin County, and Toli County.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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