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Uighur author dies following detention in Chinese 're-education' camp

August 14, 2019 by admin

PEN America condemns death of Nurmuhammad Tohti, who had been held in a Xinjiang internment camp, as a grave example of China’s violations of free expression

PEN America condemns death of Nurmuhammad Tohti, who had been held in a
Xinjiang internment camp, as a grave example of China’s violations of free
expression

Nurmuhammad Tohti, pictured in Urumqi, the capital of
Xinjiang. Photograph: courtesy of Abduweli Ayup

The death of the prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti after being held
in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps has been condemned as a tragic loss by
human rights organisations.

Radio
Free Asia reported
that Tohti, who was 70, had been detained in one of the
controversial “re-education” camps from November 2018 to March 2019. His
granddaughter, Zorigul, who is based in Canada, said he had been denied
treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was only released once his
medical condition meant he had become incapacitated. She wrote on a Facebook
page for the Uighur exile community that she had only learned of his death 11
days after it happened because her family in Xinjiang had been frightened that
making the information public would make them a target for detention.

Another
granddaughter, Berna Ilchi, told Voice of America
that she did not know if
Tohti had died inside the camp or at home because her family feared their phone
was tapped. “The truth is that they put a 70-year old man with diabetes and
heart disease inside a concentration camp and they cannot deny this,” she said.

Tohti’s grandson Babur Ilchi confirmed on his Instagram account – now
deleted – that his grandmother had told him the news, reported
Radio Free Asia
. “Shortly after the call, my grandma received a message
from the Chinese government saying she had answered a foreign call and that
that was a dangerous decision. What did she do other than tell us he had passed
away? Why should that be met with consequences?” he wrote.

“He was a respected writer; no affiliation with terrorism, which is what the
Chinese government claims these concentration camps are fighting against. He
deserved better, and so do the MILLIONS of Uighurs who are suffering in these camps.”

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