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No food, only bottlecaps to moisten lips: Ex-Chinese cop reveals Uyghur travel woes and more

A spokesperson for the Xinjiang government, however, said the revelations of the “so-called local policeman could not happen".
High security prison is seen in Karakax, outside Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.(Reuters file photo)
Updated on Oct 11, 2021 06:16 PM IST
Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi

A Chinese whistleblower, who claimed to be a former police officer, has come up with details of how hundreds of Uyghur Muslims are forced to travel in crowded prison trains and accounts of their tortured lives at “re-education centres” in Xinjiang province.

According to a report in British news channel Sky News, the defector said freight trains were used to bring Uyghurs to Xinjiang from other parts of China. With only bottle caps to moisten lips and no food, about 500 of the ethnic minorities are transported at a time from freight stations with more than 100 passengers in each carriage, the former law enforcer said.

"We gather them together, put hoods on their head, two people handcuffed together, to prevent them from escaping," the man, who wanted to be identified as only as Jiang, was quoted as saying in the report.

"To keep order, we don't let them go to the toilet. They reach their destinations in two days. They reach Xinjiang," he further said.


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Jiang also spoke about a 2019 drone footage that seemed to reveal blindfolded and shacked Uyghur prisoners being unloaded from a train -- their heads shaved.

He said the clipping most likely showed detainees being transferred from various centres to a larger central facility, because of their different uniform.

Jiang told Sky News that worked as a detective in a local public security bureau after having served as a soldier.

However, the Chinese government has denied the allegations when confronted during a news conference in Beijing.

A spokesperson for the Xinjiang government said the revelations of the “so-called local policeman could not happen".

"China is a country ruled by law. Police act and handle crimes in accordance with relevant PRC laws. It's forbidden to imprison people illegally and torture people to coerce a statement. Police must protect all the suspect's rights. So the things said by the man that officials didn't let them go to toilets and that they had no water to drink, and so on, do not exist,” Elijan Anayat, the spokesperson, was quoted as saying in the report.

China has so far refuted all reports of human rights abuse and repression of the ethnic minority group in Xinjiang and referred to them as "the lie of the century".

Also read | China uses coercive policies in Xinjiang to drive down Uyghur birth rates: Report

However, Jiang said the authorities did not see ordinary people as human beings. “They do things that you don't do to human beings," he said. 

Describing the tactics employed in the camp, Jiang said, "In cases related to politics, jeopardising the regime, cases involving overthrowing the regime - you're allowed to beat people.  It's ok, to make them turn in other people's names."

"You use various methods to put pressure -- two people use sticks to weigh down their legs, tie him up and trample their arm; shackle their hands, pour cold water - put a water pipe into their mouth and tie them up," he added.

"How to say, under this kind of management in the re-education centre, beating somebody to death, for sure, it happens," the defector further said.

“If accidents occur, it's normal that some people die. That's just how you get used to saying it. Please do not blame me.”

"They have problems with their thoughts," said Jiang and grounds for suspicion and detention included differing opinions on the Communist government, seeking help from higher authorities, or not selling alcohol and cigarettes, all of which could be considered "ideological issues" that justified “re-education”.

He said there was, however, a distinction between those sentenced to prison and those sent to re-education centres.

“Those who actually contacted other people and planned to rebel, they can be sentenced. But people in the re-education centres are not severe enough to be sentenced.”

Jiang left China in 2020, but he was disillusioned with the regime before he was sent to Xinjiang. Having seen much of life, he said his defection and revelations were not about betraying the motherland. "It's a way for me to free myself."




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