Rare footage and messages from inside China’s secretive internment camps have been released by a detained Uighur man.
31-year-old Merdan Ghappar managed to document his days inside the infamous internment camps, which China alleges are ‘re-education camps’. He sent the footage to his family earlier this year.
Mr. Ghappar is a model, of Uighur ethnicity, for Chinese online retailer Taobao. Mr. Ghappar left Xinjiang in 2009 and made a career as a model in Foshan, a city in southern China.
In August 2018, Ghappar was arrested in Foshan for selling cannabis and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. His friends have insisted that the allegations against him have been greatly exaggerated.
After being released in November 2019, he was put on a flight to Xinjiang, which is in western China, to complete a so-called routine registration procedure.
Authorities stated that “he may need to do a few days of education at his local community” which basically means that he was sent to the camps.
But after a month, his family received messages on WeChat, with descriptions of abuse against Uighurs in the camps. He even sent a 4-minute long video showing his condition.
You can watch the video here.
The Contents Of The Video And Messages
“I saw 50 to 60 people detained in a small room no bigger than 50 square metres, men on the right, women on the left…Everyone was wearing a so-called ‘four-piece-suit’, a blackhead sack, handcuffs, leg shackles and an iron chain connecting the cuffs to the shackles. I lifted the sack on my head and told the police officer that the handcuffs were so tight they hurt my wrists. He shouted fiercely at me, saying ‘If you remove your hood again, I will beat you to death’. And after that, I dared not to talk,” Ghappar wrote in his messages.
He wrote about the unsanitary conditions, the abuse, the torture, and constant screaming he could hear in the jail premises. He also sent a photo of a document that asks Uighur children as young as 13 to “repent for their mistakes and voluntarily surrender.”
One day, as prisoners were being loaded onto buses to unknown locations amid the pandemic, Ghappar was separated from the group and taken to an ‘epidemic control centre’ as he had a cold and a runny nose.
He managed to gain access to his phone there and recorded his surroundings. Ghappar can be seen in the video, sitting with his left-hand cuffed to the bed in a gloomy room.
The windows can be seen covered with wire mesh and bars, with propaganda messages blaring in the background.
This was earlier this year. Ghappar’s family has not heard from him ever since.
Who Are Uighurs?
Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims, living primarily in Xinjiang, China. Uighurs have been systematically oppressed and abused by the Chinese authorities with the intensity increasing since 2018, with China claiming that Uighurs are a threat to national security due to their alleged extremist and separatist views.
The Chinese government is attempting cultural erasure of Uighurs.
Through satellite images, it has been confirmed that China has made concentration camps, also known as internment camps, for Uighurs. China terms these as ‘re-education’ camps.
Any suspicious activity, from applying for a visa to using the back door instead of the front door can put the highlight on Uighurs, eventually leading to a time in the camps. Uighurs are highly surveilled by the communist government.
More than 1 million Uighurs have been detained in these camps. These are the biggest internment camps since the Holocaust.
Ghappar’s messages and videos prove that Uighurs are being detained in large numbers, despite China claiming otherwise.
Ghappar’s family realize that releasing his video might result in more punishment for him, but they hope that this would highlight the suffering of Uighurs more widely.
Image Sources: Google Images
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