Uighur model's video gives rare glimpse inside China's detention camp

by Bryan Brammer · Aug 6th, 2020 2:18 pm

Last Updated Aug 7th, 2020 at 10:11 pm

A video taken by an Uighur model for a large Chinese online retailer gave a rare glimpse inside the country's highly-secure detention camp in Xinjiang that the communist party insists is a voluntary school for anti-extremism training.

While holding the camera with his right hand, Merdan Ghappar revealed his dirty clothes, his left hand cuffed to the metal bed frame, and a barred up window. The walls and door looked as if they had not been cleaned in years.

The video was accompanied by several text messages from Ghappar, which further detail his experience after he was arrested earlier this year.

Using the Chinese social media app WeChat, Ghappar explained that he was first held in a police jail in Kucha.

"I saw 50 to 60 people detained in a small room no bigger than 50 square meters, men on the right, women on the left. Everyone was wearing a so-called 'four-piece-suit', a black head sack, handcuffs, leg shackles and an iron chain connecting the cuffs to the shackles," Ghappar typed. "I lifted the sack on my head and told the police officer that the handcuffs were so tight they hurt my wrists. He shouted fiercely at me, saying 'If you remove your hood again, I will beat you to death'. And after that I dared not to talk. Dying here is the last thing I want."

Ghappar also said he could hear constant screaming coming from inside the detention camp, suggesting prisoners were being mistreated in interrogation rooms.

"One time I heard a man screaming from morning until evening," he said.

At the end of January, Ghappar said the prisoners were loaded onto a minibus and taken to an undisclosed location. Because he was suffering from a cold with his nose running, he was taken to what he called an "epidemic control center" — the facility shown in his video.

"My whole body is covered in lice. Every day I catch them and pick them off from my body — it's so itchy," he wrote. "Of course, the environment here is better than the police station with all those people. Here I live alone, but there are two people guarding me."


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