For six weeks, the city of Yili in the northwestern province of Xinjiang was under lockdown, but the “famine” crisis continued. Netizens in the area said that hundreds of people die of hunger just in one day. However, local officials later released the “rumor-busting” statement that only 22 people died of starvation daily..

About 500,000 people live in Yining City, the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture capital in Xinjiang. Most of these people are Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. In early August, the city started to close down. Until now, it has been more than 40 days. People have been asking for help online, saying that many died because they were hungry or didn’t have medicine. But local officials kept trying to keep the news from getting out and even threatened people.

Last week, young Uyghurs from a village in Ghulja ignored a strict COVID lockdown and held a peaceful street protest against the food crisis, causing numerous deaths. As a result, the Xinjiang authorities detained more than 600 of them.

Many horrible tragedies happen. For example, this video shows that this Uyghur child died in his parent’s arms while being carried to a nearby hospital. The baby’s death was caused by the “lockdown without food and medicine” that the CCP put in place in the Uyghur homeland.

Many of the Uyghur’s families posted videos online that said their loved ones were being starved to death. There is also a video showing that hundreds of people died of hunger in Yining City on Thursday, September 15.

When asked about claims on social media that “hundreds of people starved to death on September 15,” a Yining Police Command Center official said that only “… 21 or 22” people died that day.

A reporter asked a city official in Yining City how many people had died of hunger that day. The official said “20,” but he wouldn’t say where exactly: “20 people starved to death, don’t call back.”

Halmutar Omerjan is the chairman of a village in Yining. He was one of the people who died on September 15.

His widow said, “They killed my husband … No one answered my calls.” 

She said in the video: “They took my husband to a quarantine station with no water and electricity for seven days and starved him to death.”

The chain of tragedies under this COVID lockdown madness goes on and on.

In the middle of this month, an Uyghur couple living in Europe said that her elderly parents in Xinjiang had not eaten in almost a week. They had to pick leaves in the compound to make soup after they were blocked off under lockdown order. They said the authorities locked their parents in their homes for at least 40 days.

Ablikim Ablimit is an Uyghur refugee living in Turkey. Last Sunday, September 18, he discovered that his 73-year-old father had also died of hunger in Yining City three days prior. The poor man was buried right away.

Ablimit told Radio Free Asia over the phone that his father was in good health until he died of hunger. Because the regime put up a strict lockdown, no one could take him to the hospital for timely medical care before he died.

On Weibo, there were numerous reports of people unable to get timely medical help in the area.

On September 8, a user said that he and his 2-year-old daughter were both diagnosed positive for COVID. He told the community secretary that he had a fever of 39℃ but was not taken to the hospital for treatment. Another internet user said people in their 80s who can’t eat unaided at home and that some 4 or 5-year-olds with fevers of 40℃ are left alone. But Chinese censorship machines have blocked posts of related distress messages.

Also, there are a lot of WeChat posts that talk about the chaos and supply shortages due to Yining’s lockdown. On September 11, the Yining City police said they had arrested four men for spreading rumors online, stirring up opposition, and messing up the order of anti-epidemic measures.


Wang Yaqiu is a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. He said the “zero-COVID” policy has become a “political ideological issue” in China. Once the policy to stop the pandemic becomes a matter of ideology, it will be hard for Beijing to revert to normalcy.

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