As COVID measures, the massive detention and the separation of nomads from their animals do not make sense. It is just additional repression of a minority.
by Laila Adilzhan
Another great tragedy befell ethnic Kazakhs in Xinjiang. Chinese authorities are detaining Kazakhs en masse under the pretext of quarantine. Before that, the Chinese authorities locked them in their houses, did not let the residents of the apartment buildings out of their apartments, and welded the doors in the corridors with iron. The residents of the apartment houses were starving because they could not leave their homes.
And now the Chinese authorities are massively arresting Kazakhs engaged in livestock farming in the villages. They are taken from their villages to the district centers and locked in specially built hangars. Those hangars are large constructions, with a capacity of 3,000 or 5,000 people which were built just recently. Even this, there is not enough space, and groups of 100, 200 or 500 people are separated from the others and locked up in large buildings.
According to the information I received, the Chinese authorities even spread blankets on the floor of toilets in government buildings, make the “quarantined” Kazakhs lie there side by side, and lock them up. I have received more than one hundred video reports about this situation.
One of them is a video complaint filed by Gulaisha Oralbay, who now lives in Turkey. Bitter Winter reported in 2020 and again in 2021 that one brother and two younger sisters of Gulaisha Oralbay have been innocently in jail for more than five years. There is still no news from them.
Further bad news came from Xinjiang last week. Chinese local authorities of Kas village, under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Ghulja (Ch. Yining) t, have now taken Gulaisha Oralbay’s 80-year-old mother Auakhan, and an older brother Zhurat Oralbay, to the district center with their family and neighbors. After arriving there, her elder brother and his family were left in the center with many people. But her mother was taken to another place. Her family was not told where and why she was taken, and she is still missing.
Gulaisha Oralbay told Bitter Winter: “How can keeping hundreds of people in a large building be called a quarantine? If the disease is really spreading, how will they recover if hundreds of people are locked up in one place? Why doesn’t everyone stay home?” Her mother has several domestic animals, and cows, which give her milk every day, and it is unknown what happened to them, whether they have died from hunger, or were stolen, or who takes care of them.
Many Kazakhs in Xinjiang still live a nomadic lifestyle. Videos from nomadic Kazakhs living in the mountains keep coming. In the videos, we see that animals are not allowed to graze, but are kept in places with stones and without grass. The person who made the videos reports that the animals are hungry and dying. Nomadic Kazakhs have only their cattle. The CCP authorities are depriving them of work and food by killing their livestock.
In another video, when the cold came, the local authorities stopped the nomadic Kazakhs who were moving from pastures to winter quarters halfway. They were not allowed to winter quarters. In the middle of the road, animals and people without water and food began to die. According to a tweet by Serikzhan Bilash, “The purpose of the CCP is to make Kazakh herdsmen bankrupt, seize their grasslands, and then the government will provide ‘job opportunities’ and force them to be sent to factories as cheap labor. Kazakh nomads own the best land in Xinjiang.”
Since August, under the pretext of quarantine, people have not been allowed to go outside or work. According to witnesses, the suspicious situation here is that specialized government personnel come twice a day and take saliva from the Kazakhs’ mouths. They suspect that the government is not really checking their COVID situation but conducting research and building data bases based on ethnicity. They say that they are using DNA and RNA information from each person’s saliva. Chinese authorities have not explained why they are taking saliva twice a day.