Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, tortureMay 17, 2018
Kayrat Samarkand says his only “crime” was being a Muslim who had visited neighboring Kazakhstan. On that basis alone, he was detained by police, aggressively interrogated for three days, then dispatched in November to a “reeducation camp” in China’s western province of Xinjiang for three months.
Samarkand said 5,700 people were detained in just one camp in the village of Karamagay, almost all ethnic Kazakhs and Uighurs, and not a single person from China’s Han majority ethnic group. About 200 were suspected of being “religious extremists,” he said, but others had been abroad for work or university, received phone calls from abroad, or simply had been seen worshiping at a mosque.
His account was corroborated by Omir Bekali, an ethnic Kazakh who was working in a tourism company in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, until he was arrested by police on a visit to see his parents in the village of Shanshan in March 2017. Four days of interrogation, during which he was prevented from sleeping, were followed by seven months in a police cell and 20 days in a reeducation camp in the city of Karamay, he said. He was given no trial, he said, nor was he granted access to a lawyer.
Bekali said he met doctors, lawyers and teachers in the camps, while Radio Free Asia (RFA) has reported that wealthy business executives, 80-year-olds and breast-feeding mothers have been among the detainees.
One of the best-known detainees is a Uighur soccer player, Erfan Hezim, 19, a former member of China’s youth soccer team and now a forward for Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning. Hezim, also known by his Chinese name Ye Erfan, was detained in February while visiting his parents in Xinjiang, according to RFA, on the pretext that he had visited foreign countries, although he had reportedly traveled abroad only to train and take part in soccer matches.