Young Uyghur Man Who Went Missing After Warned of Detention Confirmed Dead by Suicide
A young Uyghur man who went missing after learning he was going to be sent to an internment camp in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been found to have died by suicide, according to officials and a Canada-based activist.
Uyghur activist Guly Mahsut recently published a video to her YouTube channel, in which she claimed that a 19-year-old man from Yengisar (in Chinese, Yingjisha) county, in the XUAR’s Kashgar (Kashi) prefecture, named Ibrahim Qasim had contacted her in May 2019 while he was living and working in southeastern China’s Fujian province.
The two began regularly exchanging messages after Qasim—who was able to use a proxy service to access websites typically restricted by the country’s firewall—left a comment on one of Mahsut’s YouTube videos, detailing the discrimination he faced in eastern China, as well as the situation facing Uyghurs in the XUAR.
Authorities in the region are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of camps as part of a campaign of extralegal incarceration since early 2017.
According to Mahsut, in December 2019, authorities called Qasim and demanded that he return to the XUAR. Mahsut said she tried to convince Qasim to find a way to extend the paperwork that allowed him to do business in Fujian, but he told her that he felt compelled to return to the region because refusing to do so could put his family members at risk.
The two agreed to stop exchanging messages upon his return to the region in January and Qasim asked Mahsut to monitor his situation by following his WeChat account, where he planned to continue making posts and changing his profile photo periodically as a way of signaling to her that he was still free. Information is notoriously difficult to get into and out of the XUAR and communications are tightly monitored by authorities for any content deemed “extremist.”
Qasim said that if he was to go two months without changing the photo, Mahsut should assume he had been sent to a camp. He changed the photo regularly for around six months, she said, before stopping suddenly in late May of 2020.
Repeated efforts by Mahsut to determine what happened to Qasim revealed little information until she called a telephone number he had once shared with her.
The person she spoke with said that Qasim had learned he would be interned because he was born in the year 2000, thus falling within an age range for Uyghur men that is considered “dangerous” by authorities. A recent leak of a prisoner list from a Chinese internment camp analyzed by a U.S. human rights group listed being young as an attribute that drew police attention.
The person on the other end of the phone said Qasim had killed himself on May 27, 2020.
Fear of detention
According to Mahsut, she had received audio messages from Qasim in Fujian prior to being contacted by police, saying that he knew of several peers in Yengisar who had been taken to the camps “for no reason”—including his 16-year-old cousin Muhammed Memtimin. She said he had explored ways that he could flee China, despite having no passport, and had asked her for advice on how to do so.
Qasim was aware of how the campaign of extralegal incarceration in the XUAR had ramped up in 2018 and 2019, and believed that it was only a matter of time before he would be sent to a camp, she said.
He initially considered a route to Tajikistan or Kazakhstan, which border the XUAR, but feared strict controls on movement by Uyghurs within his home region, according to Mahsut. Qasim had also contacted a smuggler who said he could ferry him to Hong Kong, from where he could travel to Southeast Asia, but was concerned that he would be unable to continue to another country from increasingly restrictive Chinese island territory.
Qasim traveled home to Yengisar once he came to believe that he had no options to escape the country and—after receiving the call to return to the XUAR by police—his fear grew that evading the authorities would place his family members in jeopardy.
But the source that Mahsut spoke with by telephone after Qasim disappeared in May told her that upon his return to Setil township, the young man was regularly called in to speak with local police.
During one such summoning, said the source, who declined to be named citing fears of reprisal, Qasim and a group of his similarly aged peers had black hoods placed over their heads and were told they would be sent to internment camps.
Speaking to RFA on condition of anonymity, a police officer from a village in Setil verified the incident, saying that during the last week of May, Qasim and 44 others were warned they would be detained in camps for periods of between six months and five years, with the length of their stay “dependent on their behavior.”
“[Of the 44] they let eight of them go after investigations, but the rest of them are still [in detention],” the officer said.
When asked if members of the group had committed any crimes, the officer said, “no, they only watched and shared sensitive materials,” without elaborating.
According to the officer, Qasim was one of the eight released and later took his life “at home.”
Another police officer in Setil confirmed to RFA in a phone call that there was an incident in which a 19-year-old man killed himself in the township in May of this year. He could not provide more details.
A justice department employee in Setil, however, told RFA that a young man by the name of Ibrahim Qasim died by suicide in the township in May.
The employee rattled off a list of Uyghurs from Setil who were born after the 1980s who were to be placed in camps that included Nureli, born in 1999; Gulhumar Tahir, born in 1995; and Ruqiye Qeyyum, born in 1996.
When asked the name of the young man who killed himself from among them, she said “Ibrahim Qasim.”
‘Sake of social stability’
While RFA was unable to confirm whether authorities planned to send Qasim to a camp because of his age, a police officer in Setil township confirmed that people—particularly males—between the ages of 16 and 45 are broadly considered in the target age range for internment.
“People between the ages of 16 and 45 are [being sent to camps] so that they don’t get locked up in jail, and for the sake of social stability,” he said.
“They’re being educated in the political system and Chinese language.”
Uyghurs in the XUAR who are not detained are subjected to near-constant high-tech surveillance and repressive policies that restrict their ability to use their own language, practice their religion, and honor their cultural traditions.
Chinese officials have said the camps are centers for vocational training. However, reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets shows that detainees are mostly held against their will in cramped and unsanitary conditions, where they are forced to endure inhumane treatment and political indoctrination.
Last week, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said more than 2,000 detainees in the XUAR’s Aksu (Akesu) prefecture discovered on a recently leaked list had initially been flagged by a big data program called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) before being evaluated by officials and sent to internment camps.
The so-called “Aksu List,” which HRW said provided further insights that China’s repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the XUAR is bolstered by technology, “strongly suggests that the vast majority of the people flagged by the IJOP system are detained for everyday lawful, non-violent behavior,” according to the group.
Among the activities that led to detention were studying the Qur’an without state permission, allowing one’s children to study the Qur’an, reciting the Qur’an, wearing religious clothing or having a long beard, or going on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia without state permission, it said.
Other behaviors HRW noted included “using suspicious software,” including proxy servers and Virtual Private Networks,” and “being young; that is ‘born after the 1980s.’”
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by the Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
The United Nations lead official for human rights called on Friday for a full and independent investigation of human rights abuses in northwest China’s Xinjiang region, where reports say over a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been held in a vast network of internment camps since 2017
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28 February 2021 India Coronavirus Cases:11,096,731 Deaths:157,051 How to identify Fake News or Messages on Social Media
Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media
Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.
But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.
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Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.
Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.
Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.
Follow official websites relating to COVID-19
WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites
Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)
According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
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Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.
Follow WHO guidelines
When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.
Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations if stories are repeated there
Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.
Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.
These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.
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Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred
Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.
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Without evidence or with fake evidence, a conspiracy theory will always remain a conspiracy theory.
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