Xinjiang officials refute CECC claims on abuse

By Xie Wenting Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/3 1:34:20

Foreign journalists interview students at Kashgar vocational education and training center in Kashgar, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Jan 13, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

Officials and residents in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Monday refuted claims hyped in a US congressional report, which alleged local people have been tortured and foreign nationals have been detained in vocational education and training centers.

At Monday's press conference in Urumqi, local officials responded questions regarding the 2019 Annual Report released by Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), which smeared China's counter-terrorism efforts in Xinjiang and included abuse accusations from Uygur residents. 

The CECC report alleged that Nurmehmet Tohti, a Uygur writer, died at a vocational education and training center, and a Uygur man named Mutalip Nurmehmet died nine days after he was released from a training facility.

Rishat Musajan, mayor of Hotan, said the claims were fabrications concocted by the CECC. Nurmehmet was from Hotan and had never studied at a vocational training center. 

The writer had suffered from heart disease for 20 years, in which he either was hospitalized for treatment or remained at home for recovery purposes. Last year, on May 31, Nurmehmet had a heart attack and was rushed to a local hospital where he later died, Rishat explained.  

Mutalip Nurmehmet, a Uygur man, had also never studied at a vocational education and training center before his death. Mutalip died of excessive drinking, respiratory failure and acute upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

"The death of a relative is a heartbreaking experience. However, some Americans started rumors, which angered family members [of the two people]. Anyone with a conscience would have never done such an immoral thing," Rishat said.

The CECC report also claimed that Abdulhapar Abdulrosul, a Uygur businessman, was sentenced to death for taking an "unapproved pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia."  

Mehmut Wusman, director of Xinjiang's ethnic affairs commission, dismissed the accusations at Monday's press conference. 

"Pilgrimages to Mecca are supported by the government. Each year, the government arranges chartered airplanes for Muslims to make pilgrimages to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Besides, medical treatment and translation services are funded by the government so as to guarantee a safe and orderly pilgrimage. So far, more than 50,000 people from Xinjiang have made pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia," Mehmut said.

A Washington Post report cited by the CECC said a reporter interviewed the wife of Jarkenbek Utan, a so-called Chinese Kazakh, who claimed he was held at a vocational training center for nearly two years before returning to Kazakhstan. Upon release, according to the report, Jarkenbek suffered "memory impairment among other health problems."

Eljan Anayt, a spokesperson of the People's Government of Xinjiang, said Jarkenbek was a 33-year-old man from Kazakh ethic group in Zhaosu county in Xinjiang. On January 16, 2017, he entered China via the Khorgos port from Kazakhstan. Border security found pages from his passport were missing and his Kazakhstan visa had been deliberately tainted. 

According to China's law, Jarkenbek received administrative punishment and had his passport nullified by local authorities.

Since then, Jarkenbek has been living with his father in Zhaosu county, where his personal freedoms have never been restricted. Jarkenbek was also never enrolled at a vocational education and training center. 

On October 26, 2018, after applying to visit his family in Kazakhstan, local authorities issued Jarkenbek a new passport and he left China two weeks later. Jarkenbek's family in China confirmed that he was in good health, and nor did he suffer from memory problems prior to his departure.

"With this opportunity, I would like to remind journalists from some American media, the handful of so-called witnesses you had interviewed, especially 'East Turkistan' members wandering overseas, not only fabricate rumors themselves but also exploit the international media coverage by every means to mislead public opinion. I hope that your future reports must be based on fact and truth. Don't fall into traps of these vicious people which damages your public credibility," Eljan said. 

Eljan also dismissed the case of Shaylagul from the CECC report. The report said, "before fleeing China, she was forced to work at a vocational education and training center. 

Shaylagul, a woman from Kazakh ethic group in Zhaosu county, worked at a local kindergarten and primary school. She never studied at a vocational and education training center, and nor she was subjected to compulsory measures.

The CECC report failed to mention that Shaylagul was wanted for loan fraud and crossing the border illegally. 

In June 2015, she received a ten-year loan for 200,000 yuan from a local bank after forging signatures and creating fake letters from her guarantors and still owes 149,000 yuan. In December 2016, she received another ten-year loan for 270,000 yuan after submitting a forged home purchase contract to the bank.

Shaylagul claimed she had been persecuted so she could avoid legal punishment for the crimes she had committed, and to gain support for her so-called refugee status, Eljan said.

"A person with such a notorious history deceived many people with her lies, and she even used nonexistent so-called 'sufferings' to avoid legal punishment. People who have been fooled by her are believed to see through her, and she will pay the price for her crimes and lies," he said. 

According to Eljan, non-Chinese have never received vocational education and training in Xinjiang.

A recent New York Times story sensationalized an exaggerated account from the parents (mother Zoram Talip and father Isaac Payzulla) of Sweden-based Zulhumar Talip, a native of Xinjiang, for being forcefully placed in so-called "camps." 

Also speaking at Monday's press conference were Zoram Talip, an ex-director-level consultant with Hami Municipal Language Office and her husband, Isaac Payzulla, who works at Hami Daily. 

"We both are children of ordinary farmers and herdsman. And thanks to the Party's love and care, we became CPC members and were promoted to official positions," she said, adding that her family leads a normal life in Hami.

"I know that my daughters have been used to be interviewed by the New York Times and some other foreign media outlets, in which she portrayed something about us inaccurate. These media then took advantage of the inaccuracies in her interview attacking and smearing our Party and government. With this opportunity, I would like to say something to my daughters: Don't be blinded by rumors and used by people with sinister motives. You can visit us  anytime," Zoram said.

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