Although China continues its intense “zero-COVID” policy, the epidemic continues to spread, causing people everywhere unspeakable suffering. For example, recent reports say at least 22 people have died of starvation or lack of medical care in Yining city in northern Xinjiang due to being in lockdown. In the face of severe pressure, many locals can only call for help on the internet.

22 people starved to death in one day in Xinjiang’s closed city, Yining

According to Vision Times, about 500,000 people live in Yining City, Xinjiang. Most of the residents are Uyghurs and other Muslims of Turkish descent. Since the city closed in early August this year, there have been reports of locals dying from starvation or lack of medicine.

Last week, because of the desire to return to normal life, the people of Yining took to the streets protesting the regime’s leaving people to starve due to the blockade. According to reports, more than 600 people, most of them young, were arrested by the authorities at the protest.

Protest videos were posted on Chinese social platforms but were quickly censored and deleted by authorities. Although it is impossible to confirm whether the videos’ allegations are true, RFA confirmed with officials and police in Yining that at least 22 people died on September 15.

“There are 20 people starving, don’t call again,” an official from the emergency services department of Yining City replied, declining to provide more information to reporters.

A security guard at a local village in Yining City told RFA that two residents there had recently died from lack of food.

A police official in Yining denied rumors on social media that 100 people died in a day, saying that the death toll was only “about 21, 22 people.”

RFA said, according to a video shared by Douyin, one of the people who died on September 15 was Halmutar Ömerjan, the head of a village in Yining. His widow said, “They killed my husband … No one answered my call.”

The widow also said in the video that, after being quarantined for seven days, Halmutar Ömerjan was moved to a place where no one could live alone and was malnourished nor cared for before returning home.

A video posted by Twitter user “Erkin Sidick” with the description, “this Uyghur child just died while being carried by his parents to a nearby hospital. It was caused by the CCP’s “lockdown, no food and medicine” in the land of the Uyghurs.

The Lli Autonomous Region of China in Xinjiang has been under lock down for more than 40 days, and residents are prohibited from calling for help on the internet.

Because Xinjiang has been locked down and controlled for a long time, problems such as food shortages and limited access to medicine have occurred locally, making people’s lives difficult. Earlier, many people had posted calls for help on social platforms.

Abduweli Ayup is an Uyghur scholar living abroad who has followed the situation in Xinjiang for a long time. He started sharing videos of local Uyghurs asking for help via Twitter in early September. A posted video showed Uyghurs walking to the city center in the town of Qaradong. People in the video said they were going out because there was no food or medicine.

According to an Uyghur couple living in Europe, Vision Times reported that their elderly parents in Xinjiang had been without food for nearly a week and had to pick leaves in the locked-down area to cook soup. The couple said their parents had been locked at home by authorities for at least 40 days.

There was also news on Weibo that people had no way of getting medical treatment in the local area. On September 8, a netizen said he and his two-year-old daughter went to the doctor. The baby had a fever of 39℃. He reported it to the residential staff, but they would not arrange to take the baby to a hospital. Another netizen said older adults in their 80s are alone at home and cannot cook and eat independently. Also, four and five-year-old children with a fever of 40℃ without anyone to take care of them. Chinese network administrators blocked pleas for help.

In addition, WeChat posts describing the chaos of the lockdown and lack of supplies have also been deleted. According to RFA, on September 11, the Department of Public Security of Yining city announced that it had arrested four men. They are charged with spreading rumors on the internet, inciting antagonism, disturbing order, and resisting the implementation of anti-epidemic measures.

Wang Yaqiu, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told DW in an interview that the “zero-COVID” policy has become an “issue of political ideology” in China. Once the epidemic prevention policy becomes an ideological issue, it will be difficult for the Chinese regime to turn around.

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