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China formally confirms death of Uyghur man who was held in Xinjiang camp

As the worldwide condemnation against China over human rights violation grows, Beijing has confirmed to the United Nations the death of a Uyghur man whose family says that he was held in the Xinjiang internment camp since 2017, The Guardian reported.

China formally confirms death of Uyghur man who was held in Xinjiang camp
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In April 2019, Abdulghafur Hapiz's disappearance was registered with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). However, China didn't respond to any of the formal enquiries until this month.

When it did respond, in a document seen by The Guardian, it told WGEID that the retired driver from Kashgar had died almost two years ago, on November 3 in 2018 of "severe pneumonia and tuberculosis". "I don't believe it," his daughter, Fatimah Abdulghafur, told The Guardian. "If he died of anything it would have been diabetes."

"I know my father's health and I've been talking about his health issues. He had a (tuberculosis) shot," she added. She believes that her father was sent to the Xinjiang camp in March 2017.

Abdulghafur, a poet and activist residing in Australia, was further quoted as saying that her father had left her a voice message on WeChat: "'I have something urgent to tell you please call me'." "However, when I called him back he wasn't there..."I was frantically looking for my father, when he was already gone. It's also really sad because I couldn't speak to him before his death," she said while adding that the authorities gave her no information about her father's burial or even the location of his body.

With China finally officially confirming the death of her father, Abdulghafur told The Guardian that this will bring hope and potentially legal recourse. "This is an official letter from the government given to the UN, so I can take this letter to maybe an international court to say this is my evidence, and let the Chinese government show their evidence."

"To me it's a major personal success. I'm not sure who can help me but I'm searching." Meanwhile, upon the WGEID enquiring about Abdulghafur's mother and two younger siblings, who are also missing, Abdulghafur said authorities reported back that her 63-year-old mother was "leading a social, normal life".

"I haven't been able to speak to her at all. That's another lie," she said. "She is at home, I'm sure of it. But she's not living a normal life. I think she is under house arrest." Abdulghafur had applied anonymously to the WGEID to probe into her family's mysterious disappearance. She further highlighted that when her sister living in Turkey had called up the Chinese Embassy in Istanbul, she was harassed and intimidated and made to give her personal details.

China put a million or more Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons in Xinjiang over the last three years, according to reports in US media. However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training.

Uyghur activists and human rights groups have countered that many of those held are people with advanced degrees and business owners who are influential in their communities and have no need for any special education. People in the internment camps said they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings, and denial of food and medicine, and have been prohibited from practising their religion or speaking their language.

Now, as Beijing denies these accounts, it also refuses to allow independent inspections into the regions, at the same time, which further fuels reports related to China's atrocities on the minority Muslims. "As long as he stays in power it will continue, and the world will watch all the Uighur people disappear one by one," said Abdulghafur.

"They are fully armed to either completely get rid of us or completely make us one of them, like complete assimilation. There is no in-between pathway," she added.

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