Uyghurs face starvation amidst coronavirus outbreak

February 22, Washington, DC

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, the Chinese government began to initiate a policy of total isolation. In East Turkistan, direct orders were given to prevent Uyghur and other Turkic peoples from leaving their homes and neighborhoods as part of China’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Entire cities and towns were blocked up with 2 meter fences being erected across neighborhood streets, while entrances into and out of apartment complexes were manned with security personell to prevent people from leaving.

While the Chinese government delivered food rations to Chinese people across China, majority of the people in East Turkistan were left to fend for themselves and prevented from even going outside to obtain food. Recent leaked videos shows individuals including an elderly Uyghur man being chased by Chinese personell at an apartment complex in a part of East Turkistan and told to go back inside. The elderly man responds “I am hungry, do you expect me to eat the building?”

In another video, a Uyghur man is heard yelling ” I am starving, my wife and child are starving. Do you want me to kill myself for you? 3 lives are starving, you may have food but we don’t we are starving!”

After careful evaluation of numerous videos and communication with our diaspora community, the East Turkistan Government in Exile has found that Uyghurs are at huge risk of being starved to death. Prime Minister Salih Hudayar stated that “Uyghurs fear that they could die in their homes from hunger.” He also stated that “we fear that the coronavirus might spread across the hundreds of concentration camps and prisons across East Turkistan, as recent reports by Radio Free Asia and others have shown China is holding those believed to have the coronavirus in quarantine in areas [in East Turkistan] where concentration camps and prisons are prevalent.”

The East Turkistan Government in Exile urgently calls on the World Food Programme, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, and humanitarian organizations like Action Against Hunger and others to send Humanitarian Aid especially food into East Turkistan, what Beijing calls “Xinjiang,” where millions of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic peoples are facing food shortages and starvation. We also urgently call on the United Nations, the European Council, the United States Government, the World Health Organization, and other governments and international human rights organizations to send in monitors to assess the situation and help in bringing and end to these atrocities.

The East Turkistan Government in Exile also urges the international community, especially the UN Security Council, to apply political and economic pressure on China to immediately shut down the concentration camps and stop its brutal campaign of genocide which is in direct violation of the UN Genocide Convention.

We again reaffirm our position that the decades long crisis in East Turkistan can only be solved when China completely withdraws ALL of its forces and ends its decades long illegal occupation and colonization of East Turkistan. Without political rights, complete independence of East Turkistan, there is no way that the basic human rights and freedoms of East Turkistan’s people can be guaranteed.