A young Uyghur man who Chinese authorities claimed had suffered a fatal heart attack while imprisoned in a communist internment camp was actually beaten to death by a police officer in a drunken rage, according to a report Monday by Radio Free Asia.
The 35-year-old man, reportedly named Ghalipjan, died in August last year while being held at a concentration camp in Turpan, northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Following his death, authorities informed his mother that her son had suffered a myocardial infarction as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition. They added that doctors were unable to revive him when he was taken to a nearby hospital.
As part of the cover-up, family members who went to see Ghalipjan at the hospital found him with a defibrillator attached to his chest, although authorities reportedly blocked them from inspecting his corpse, according to sources who spoke with the agency.
However, one local neighbor, who chose to remain anonymous, told RFA that he was killed by an inebriated officer “from the Labai Square Police Station” at the camp where he was held.
“He was beaten to death … [by] a police officer,” the man told the agency. “The officer came to work after drinking alcohol and beat him without any reason.”
Chinese Communist Party sources also told RFA that officers oversaw Ghalipjan’s burial hours after his death, and consequently denied relatives the right to wash his body in accordance with Muslim funeral practices.
When asked if the assailant was still working with the police, the committee chief confirmed that he had been sent to prison, but did not have any further information other than that he was an ethnic Han Chinese who had been temporarily assigned to Ghalipjan’s camp.
Since 2017, Chinese authorities have imprisoned approximately one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities across Xinjiang. They have placed the majority in concentration camps designed to indoctrinate them into the ideals of Chinese nationalism and communist ideology, forcing them to disavow their allegiance to Islam, engaging in slave labor, receiving forced sterilization or birth control, and, some reports suggest, being used as live organ donors.
Beijing has repeatedly denied allegations that the camps are intended as a repressive apparatus, insisting they are instead “voluntary de-radicalization camps” and “vocational training centers” intended to improve integration between ethnic minorities and wider Chinese society. They also claim the camps are a necessary measure to prevent terrorism following various Islamist inspired attacks over the past decades.