CHINA UPDATE: Uyghurs to Protest Deaths in Urumchi Fire

(MENAFN- M. Sliwa Public Relations) U.S. State Department, Monday, Nov 28 at 11:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON: Uyghurs outraged by the unnecessary deaths of at least 44 Uyghurs in an apartment fire in Urumchi, East Turkistan (what China calls Xinjiang), will hold a protest at the US State Department on Monday.

WHAT: Protest Uyghur Unnecessary Deaths in Urumchi Fire

WHERE: US State Department, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC

WHEN: Monday, Nov 28, 11:30 AM - 1 PM Eastern Time

Urumchi’s Chinese government announced on Saturday that it would ease "zero-covid" policy restrictions to appease Chinese protesters. However, the Chinese government continues its "zero-covid" lockdowns in Uyghur majority cities and towns in East Turkistan.

According to media reports, the fire started on the 15th floor of an Uyghur-dominated apartment building. The fire quickly spread to the 19th floor, killing and injuring dozens of Uyghurs, including children.

While Chinese officials reported 10 deaths, hospital workers reported 44.

Residents said firefighters arrived three hours after the fire started (even though they were close to the building), and Uyghurs were blocked from leaving the building.

The local Chinese authorities later blamed the delay on obstacles resulting from "zero covid" lockdowns.

Why it matters: “Uyghurs within and outside East Turkistan are afflicted after hearing the tragic news of nearly four dozen Uyghurs dying in the fire,” said ETGE President GHULAM YAGHAM. “The Chinese government's deliberate failure to put out the fire and subsequent censoring of Uyghur deaths shows that it is using the covid lockdowns to further its genocide of Uyghurs.”

After being barricaded in their homes by the Chinese government for "covid lockdowns" since August 2022, hundreds of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in East Turkistan have died from starvation and medical neglect.

Uyghur netizens vented on Chinese social media over the authorities' slow response to the fire. Since residents were not allowed to leave their homes, East Turkistan's strict COVID-19 restrictions, including lockdowns, slowed the rescue process. Local authorities installed barricades and bolted doors to keep suspected virus carriers from leaving their homes.

Angered that they too could be killed like the Uyghurs, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Han Chinese settlers in East Turkistan have taken to the streets of Urumchi shouting "we are human beings," "stop the lockdown," and other slogans. Chinese security forces and officials tried to quell the anger and answer questions.

“Uyghurs in East Turkistan are unable to protest or even hold a vigil for the fatal fire that killed 44 Uyghurs,” said ETGE Prime Minister SALIH HUDAYAR. “While the Chinese government allows Han Chinese to protest and even addresses some of their demands, the government routinely massacres peaceful Uyghur protestors and labels them as ‘terrorists.’”

Background: Since 2014, the Chinese government has imprisoned over 3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps to fight "extremism, separatism, and terrorism," according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Starting in 2021, the U.S. Government and the parliaments of over a dozen western countries have formally recognized China’s atrocities against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples as genocide.

The Big Picture: The East Turkistan Government in Exile urges the international community, particularly the U.S. government, to act and hold the Chinese government accountable for its disregard for Uyghur lives and ongoing genocide. The ETGE also urges international governments to pressure China to end its harsh "zero-covid" policies.

The ETGE mourns the fire’s Uyghur victims and offers condolences to their families.


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