Approximately 617 mostly Uighur protestors were detained by Chinese authorities in the East Turkistan village of Ghulja on Monday. They were protesting the ultra strict COVID-19 lockdown that has caused mass starvation in the province and caused multiple deaths, mostly related to a lack of available medical aid due to the new restrictions.
Ghulja is home to approximately half a million mostly Muslim Uighur residents.
“We came out because of the deaths, otherwise we would have remained silent,” a Uyghur protester said in a soundbite of a social media post on Monday.
“Look at these people who took to the streets! We, the people of Karadong village of Ghulja city, took to the streets! They [the authorities] did not send any aid here; therefore, people took to the streets when they couldn’t endure it.”
However the danger of being arrested was very real as the state-run Xinjiang TV warned the people of the region that the authorities would treat any protestors as “separatists” if the “spread rumors” about issues pertaining to the COVID-19 virus.
“Those who use the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic to create and spread rumors to split the country, harm the unity of the country, or incite the overthrow of the state regime and the socialist system, fall under Article 103, Section 2, and Article 105, Section 2 of the Criminal Law and will be prosecuted for the crime of inciting to split the country and to overthrow the state regime,” the announcement said.