Merdan Ghappar, a fashion model who is a Uighur Muslim, was detained in a center in the Xinjiang region of northern China, after revealing a video and exposing the harsh reality of living under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The video of Ghappar along with a series of messages initially sent to his family were reviewed by the BBC and the Globe and Mail. The information details how the high security detention system works in Xinjiang.
According to the information obtained by the BBC, Ghappar lived in chains and hooded with more than 50 other people in a prison for 18 days, adding that he was later transferred to an epidemic prevention center where he ended up filming the video.
The family explained that after serving a 16-month prison sentence for committing a drug-related crime in the southern Chinese city of Foshan, where he had been living and working, he was forcibly transferred to the Xinjiang region.
The CCP told the BBC that, according to Article 37 of the Prison Law of the People’s Republic of China, “the people’s government shall help released prisoners to resettle.”
Over the years, the persecution of the Uighurs by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been widely documented, mainly through the exposure of massive detention camps where prisoners are locked up, indoctrinated, and punished. The CCP argues that these are re-education camps designed to prevent terrorism.
According to the human rights magazine Bitter Winter, the CCP classifies as “terrorism” all forms of criticism against the Party and all political activities that claim the independence or real autonomy of the region.
The Chinese authorities said the 31-year-old had allegedly committed acts of self-harm and excessive acts against the police, arguing, “they took legal measures to stop him, and lifted those measures once his mood had stabilized.”
Despite having lived for years in Foshan, where friends and relatives said he had a good income from his job as a fashion model, he was finally moved to his hometown of Kucha in Xinjiang earlier this year.
Ghappar’s uncle Abdulhakim Ghappar said, “If the police wanted to get help to relocate him to work or something, they should have helped him in Foshan because he is working there, he has a house there.”
According to India Today, Ghappar’s 16-year-old younger brother was also arrested by authorities on terrorism charges because of his browsing history that included visits to “foreign websites.”
“I saw 50-60 people were locked in a small room not 50 meters square in area,” Ghappar described in a message, adding, “Because there were too many people and the space so small, not every person could sleep lying down, some had to sit with their legs curled up.”
The images recorded by Ghappar show him handcuffed to a bed inside the quarantine center where he was admitted after showing symptoms of infection at a time when CCP Virus infections were on the rise in the region.
Ghappar described the extreme conditions under which he had been living, indicating that every day inmates had to cover themselves with a four-piece suit and a hood with which they had to remain covered at all times.
“There was only one window and one working fan for a small room having as many as 50 detainees. The carpet was incredibly dirty, with lots of garbage and lice,” he wrote.
“One time I heard a man screaming from morning until evening,” he wrote in another of his text messages.
As India Today pointed out, estimates suggest that between 1 million and 3 million ethnic Uighurs are housed within the detention camps over which the CCP maintains extreme vigilance regarding the flow of information.
The abuses against the Uighur ethnic group documented over the years are just one example of the repressive campaign that the Chinese Communist Party has waged against any form of expression of belief, which may be contrary to the CCP’s guidelines.
Recently the U.S. Department of State, spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus reiterated that the Council of State urges the CCP to put a definitive end to the persecution against the practitioners of the spiritual discipline known as Falun Gong.
Through an email issued this week Ortagus pointed out, “Since 1999, the Communist Party of China has been trying to eliminate the spiritual belief in Falun Gong, peaceful Falun Gong practitioners, and human rights defenders fighting for the right to believe in China.”
“We demand that the Chinese government [CCP] immediately stop the despicable abuse of Falun Gong practitioners, release those imprisoned for their beliefs, and account for the whereabouts of the missing [Falun Gong] practitioners,” the letter said.
Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, is an advanced practice of cultivation and refinement of body and mind that was introduced in 1992 by Mr. Li Hongzhi in China. Under the principles of truthfulness, benevolence, and tolerance, practitioners of this discipline, which has spread to more than 120 countries around the world, strive to live by higher moral standards.