Halmurat Harri Uyghur, a researcher based in Finland and creator of the hashtag #MeTooUyghur, analyzes the images uploaded by Merdan Ghappar:
The question I ask myself is “How did he get this phone?” I do not dispute the authenticity of this case, but from the time he was imprisoned in this detention center in January. , he stayed there for at least 30 days to two months. How could he hide his phone and charge it? I do not know. Maybe someone who works for the Chinese authorities wanted to show what these people are going through and gave him his phone. If this is the case, it would make the diet more difficult.
He handcuffs in his bed, with a loudspeaker telling him that we Uighurs have never been independent, and that this region is part of China. It’s like going back, under the great cultural revolution [période entre 1966 et 1976 en Chine pendant laquelle le Parti communiste chinois a notamment purgé de ses rangs les éléments révisionnistes, NDLR]. This detention center should be a place where they take care of human health, not a political tool. That’s scary.
Chinese authorities continue to deny abuses against the Uighur community and other minorities such as the Huis. According to them, these camps are in fact voluntary retraining programs against extremism. Independent reports, however, suggest that Chinese authorities have sent at least the past three years 1.8 million peoplein prisons or detention camps in Xinjiang.
“He is a young man who was not too religious”
In August 2018, Merdan Ghappar had already been arrested for alleged sold cannabis, he had been sentenced to 16 months in prison. According to his friends, the accusations against him were false. He was finally released from prison in November 2019.
However, Merdan Ghappar was perceived as more integrated into Chinese society: he had become a model for the online clothing brand. Taobao in early 2020. But since its disappearance, the brand has removed all images where it appeared on its website and searches for it on Baidu, a Chinese search engine, yield no results according to Radio Free Asia.
Halmurat Harri Uyghur explains:
I wanted to look for other pictures and videos of him that had been published on social media before. But I could not find anything after the BBC article was published, I should have taken screenshots of it. It is obvious that this young man is immersed in the majority Han culture in China, and he speaks Mandarin very well. He lives in Guangdong Province, one of the most developed in China. He is not too religiously inclined according to his parents; I do not think he needed any professional training to work in a company. Despite this, the Chinese authorities decided to detain him and send him to this concentration camp before they saw that he had a fever.
Merdan Ghappar’s family said they had not heard from him since the latest messages were received in March.
Article written by Sophie stuber.