Up to 12 people have died of starvation or lack of access to medicine in northwest China’s Xinjiang region during a strict coronavirus lockdown imposed by Chinese authorities since early August, according to residents and local officials.
Hunger has left members of 10 families in Gurkiratma village, in Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) Araosteng township, in “squalid sanitary conditions” amid the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in the area, residents told RFA Uyghur.
Up to 12 people died in Golja district in the 20 days after the zero-COVID lockdown was implemented, an official said, including a man he identified as Mulan Siddik, a 62-year-old farmer from Karayagach village.
The no-COVID approach in China relies on widespread lockdowns and population testing wherever new COVID-19 cases occur. But it had negative effects on travel and local economies, and caused major food shortages in some places, including the Golja.
“[Mewlan Sidiq] He died 10 days after the lockdown was implemented. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said,
“Mulan is among the 12 people who died during this [this lockdown]. They all died [from starvation or lack of medicine] “In the first twenty days of the closure,” he added, without giving further details.
Radio Free Asia was unable to independently confirm the death toll reported by the official.
A second official told Radio Free Asia that Siddiq most likely died because his prescribed medication did not arrive in time amid the lockdown.
The official said Siddiq’s condition had been present before and had deteriorated after the start of the lockdown. He added that he was taken to hospital but later died.
We heard that the officials found him ill [from hunger] At his home.” “They took him to the county hospital, and he died there.”
“He was also suffering from a pre-existing condition prior to the lockdown,” the official said. “I don’t know if his death occurred only because of his pre-existing condition or because of his hunger.”
We help them
A security officer in Gorkeratma village told Radio Free Asia that two residents had recently died as a result of lack of food, while three others were taking malnourished villagers to hospital.
When asked about the identities of the two deceased, the officer said he did not know them because there were 12 villages in the town.
“I am just a security guard working here in Gorkeratma, and I am not familiar with all the villages,” he said.
He also said that he could not provide information about the specific causes of death without information from the relevant authorities.
Gorkeratma’s head of women’s affairs said the deceased were farmers – a man named Tursun Sawt, who died more than a week ago from starvation and lack of medicine, and a woman named Gulphram.
A village official in Golja told Radio Free Asia that nearly 200 poor families, or about 800 residents, with incomes below the poverty line lived there, but claimed the government was helping those who faced financial hardship during the lockdown.
We help them [and] “They are happy,” he said.
An elderly Uyghur resident told RFA that his medicine was delivered on time, but he and his partner only received five loaves of bread to sustain them for three days.
“I have had two surgeries due to my illness, and I have high blood pressure along with other diseases,” he said. We have to pay government officials to bring us medicine and other food. We have some bread to live for a few days.”
“We can’t buy meat and vegetables,” he said. “We can’t just live and spend all our limited savings.”
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) has expressed concern about the severe COVID-19 measures in Xinjiang and called on the Chinese government to abandon these policies.
A Uyghur activist group in Germany cited videos posted on Chinese social media by Uyghurs, showing that strict policies deny them medical care and prevent them from getting food, leading to starvation in some cases.
The WUC also noted that residents can be seen complaining about restrictions leading to starvation and a lack of help from local authorities on screenshots of exchanges on the WeChat messaging app.
Current policies appear to indicate that the Uyghur population is under de facto house arrest with the government using the COVID-19 pandemic as justification, the WUC said in statement released Friday.
“We have seen so many videos posted on the internet that it is very difficult to watch and not be able to provide any humanitarian assistance,” said WUC President Dolkun Issa. We appeal to the international community to stop the ongoing atrocities. ”
Translated by RFA Uyghurs. Written by Roseanne Geren in English.