China: Where did the Tens of Thousands of Missing Uyghurs Go?
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April 14th, 2018
"Dear uncle, my situation has been very bad emotionally recently. I haven’t talked to my parents in Urumchi for 2 months now. Before that, I learned that the local government officials were giving hard times to them because I went abroad. I don’t know their current situations. I cannot get connected when I call them – their phoneline is dead." Recently, one of my friends went to Urumchi from inner China. I told her to check out our house while she was in Urumchi. I learned from her later through Wechat (Chinese mobile phone messaging app) that she went to our home but there was nobody inside; and the door was sealed off with red tapes. I have barely slept in the last three days, after hearing what my friend told me. I just cannot fall asleep. I have not eaten much either—It is hard for me to swallow something. I cry all the time. Even if I fall asleep during the night, I frequently wake up with nightmare. Every time when I read something in WhatsApp about the tortures that some Uyghur people are currently going through in Chinese jails or concentration camps, I lose all of my physical strength, and cannot even get up afterwards for a while. My father’s health is not that good. He is physically very weak and has some illnesses. I am extremely worried about him. I am so worried that the government officials may kill him in a detention center or in a jail very soon. When I contacted my mother two months ago with text message, she told me: “My sweetheart, have a good life there, and forget us completely.” I did not know then that this would become my last communication with my mom. What this world has changed into? My parents were still fairly young and alive two months ago, but I have not been able to talk to them even by phone, don’t mention seeing them in person. I don’t know what to do. I am really scared. I am so worried about my father, my mother and my young brother. I don’t know where they are now. I also don’t know if they are still alive or dead.”
Given above is a text message one of our members received from a 20+ year old Uyghur female living abroad. This is just one example of the similar messages that we read and hear every day nowadays. . We hear this kind of cries everyday from the Uyghurs currently living abroad. As we learned from various sources and witnesses, thousands of Uyghurs, mostly Uyghur males aged 15 – 35, have disappeared from the streets in East Turkestan, and thousands of Uyghurs have disappeared from their homes. In the prefecture-, county- and village-level cities in East Turkestan, one can find empty homes everywhere, and nobody knows how they’ve gone missing, where they are now, and if they are still alive or not. Some of these disappeared Uyghurs can account for part of the more than one million innocent Uyghurs who were initially detained (or placed) in Nazi-style concentration camps and in jails in East Turkestan. Right now, thousands of Uyghur mothers are waiting for their missing sons, and thousands of wives are waiting for their missing husbands, hoping that one day they might show up in their front doors. However, among the one million plus Uyghurs detained and/or put in jails so far, there is almost no news about someone who has been released from any detention centers or jails.
The Chinese government has forced some unknown number of Uyghur students to return home from the countries they were studying, by threating to jail their parents and/or siblings in case they do not come back. But most of those returned students went missing just at the airports upon their arrival. Some aspects of this kind of Uyghur disappearances were described in an article titled: “China's Uighur minority shackled by digital technology as thousands are detained for 'vocational training'” (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/thousands-china-xinjiang-uighur-beijing-disappear-fears-authorities-thought-police-personal-safety-a8115421.html
Many Uyghur witnesses and victims who fled China after the July 5th, 2009, Urumchi Massacre revealed that at least 3,000 Uyghurs died, and 5,000 – 7,000 went missing after the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown of the peaceful demonstration of the Uyghur students carried out in Urumchi on July 5th, 2009. Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer also told the foreign reporters that 10,000 Uyghurs went missing on that one night (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-xinjiang/uighur-leader-says-10000-went-missing-in-one-night-idUSTRE56S1O020090729?sp=true Human Rights Watch conducted a research in the aftermath of the July 5th protest, and documented the enforced disappearances of at least 43 Uyghur men and teenage boys (https://www.hrw.org/report/2009/10/20/we-are-afraid-even-look-them/enforced-disappearances-wake-xinjiangs-protests It was stated in that report that “The actual number of ‘disappeared’ persons is likely significantly higher than the number of cases documented by the Human Rights Watch, as our ability to collect information was limited. Out of fear of retaliation, few witnesses or family members were willing to come forward with their stories.”
In our estimate, the actual number of the Uyghurs went missing as victims of the Chinese government’s enforced disappearances is indeed greater than 10,000. However, after the July 5, 2009, Urumchi Massacre, the Chinese government reported that a total of 197 people died during that incident, and most of them were Han Chinese. This is very similar to what had happened in 1989 during the Tiananmen Square Massacre: After they brutally put down the June 4, 1989 student demonstration in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the Chinese government reported that only 3 people died, and two of them were military personnels. But the International Red-Cross recorded more than 2,500 students who died and went missing during that crackdown.
As we can see, the Chinese government lies, and lies very bluntly and openly. And their actions of lying are incomparably much more severe when it comes to the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. As a result, the actual situation in East Turkestan is very different from the Chinese government’s accounts.
We, the Torchlight Uyghur Group, appeal to the United Nations, foreign governments and all international humanitarian and human rights organizations to demand the Chinese government to stop the enforced disappearances of the innocent Uyghur people, and to disclose to the world the whereabouts and the current situations of those tens of thousands of Uyghurs who went missing.
We, the Uyghurs, are powerless and helpless at the moment. As such, we are unable to defend ourselves against the Chinese government’s atrocities and cannot fight this battle for our survival alone. We need the support of the global community. If tens of thousands of people from around the world sign our petition, it may be possible that the United Nations will make a commitment and will act to stop the tragedy that the Uyghur people are facing today.
To read the full text of this petition, please click HERE.
Please join us in our fight to end the appalling atrocities happening in East Turkestan. Please sign and share this petition. Thank you!
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