“The situation is much, much worse than what is being reported. The Uyghur people have disappeared. Death is everywhere right now.”
These are the words of Dr Erkin Sidick, a Uyghur American who is the President of the Uyghur Projects Foundation and senior advisor to the World Uyghur Congress.
He claims that the total number of Uyghur detainees in camps in China and those presumed dead now exceeds the total number of Jews detained and killed during the Holocaust – an allegation that dwarfs previous reports on China’s ‘demographic genocide’ in Xinjiang, or what was once East Turkestan.
“This isn’t indoctrination, it’s eradication,” says Sidick.
Sidick believes that reports in the international media about the situation in Xinjiang are essentially two years behind current realities on the ground.
“For example, a lot of media says up to or more than one million Uyghur are detained, but they have been using this number since Human Rights Watch published an article on 15 January 2018,” he says. “This is two-and-a-half years ago, but the international media still says up to or more than one million.”
“The Chinese Government has since moved towards carrying out the equivalent of a Final Solution on Uyghurs,” Sidick adds, referencing Nazi Germany’s policy of Jewish extermination.
A Government official in Xinjiang recently told Sidick that, in his county, where there was once a population of 92,000 Uyghur people in 2016, there remain only 20,000 today. More than 80% of the population has disappeared in four years.
“The Uyghur population is mostly concentrated in the Kashgar, Hotan and Aksu areas,” says Sidick. “Recent visitors to the areas told us that you cannot find Uyghur people. Not on the street, not in the city and not in the farms. In many cases where you actually find a Uyghur couple on the street, you find it’s a Uyghur girl who married [by force] a Han Chinese man. And sometimes they have a child.”
New research published last month by the Jamestown Foundation shows that the published natural population growth rates in Xinjiang fell dramatically in 2018, falling by 84% between 2015 and 2018 in Kashgar and Hotan.
“This provides strong evidence that Beijing’s actions in Xinjiang meet the genocide criterion cited in Section D of Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: ‘Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the [targeted] group’,” observe the authors of the report.
Sidick claims that the Chinese President Xi Jinping took a “top secret” decision in 2014 to “kill one-third of all Uyghurs, lock up one third, and convert one third [to Chinese Communist Party ideology]”.
While it is not possible to prove the veracity of Sidick’s allegation regarding China’s intent to murder and incarcerate two-thirds of the total Uyghur population, leaving one-third to be forcibly indoctrinated, we know from a trove of leaked Chinese Communist Party documents that Xi Jinping gave a speech to Government officials in Xinjiang in 2014 in which he told them to use the “organs of dictatorship” against the Uyghur minority and show them “absolutely no mercy”.
Sidick has not obtained his information from online and second-hand sources, but from trusted Government officials in Beijing and Xinjiang, alongside firsthand or eyewitness testimonies from civil servants who serve the Government in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital.
“I also have a well-connected middleman, who gets information and sends it to me,” he says. “They use an internet proxy to get information out to me. A lot of people trust me because I can keep their identity a secret.”
The never-before-seen content he posts from his Twitter account regarding Uyghur persecution suggests, at the very least, that he has access to direct sources within the government.
Sidick says that Chinese Government officials are taking deliberate and extreme measures to hide any trace of the disappeared, including using chemicals to decompose bodies.
Born in the Xinjiang city of Aksu, Sidick completed a degree in electrical engineering at Xinjiang University before migrating to the US in the late 1980s, where he obtained a master’s degree in Physics at California State University Northridge and then a PhD in electrical engineering from University of California Davis in 1995. In 2004, he joined NASA, where he works today as a senior optical engineer on the development of a space telescope that can detect habitable exo-planets.
When asked whether he is concerned that some or all of the information leaked to him might be a deliberate ploy by Chinese Government officials to catch Western journalists and news media outlets (as reported by the Guardian) in a ‘fake news’ trap, he says “I pay attention to that”.
“When I get information, I pay attention to the source and where it came from and, yes, the Chinese Government does sometimes leak information deliberately,” Sidick says.
For instance, he suspects that videos that recently emerged of Uyghur forced labourers “came out too freely”, likening it to a “proof of life” video – a tactic used by the Chinese Communist Party to “divert international attention” away from what Sidick calls “distributed mass murdering”.
Coronavirus Testing and Organ Harvesting
Sidick says that Uyghur concentration camp detainees – the one-third of the population that China has chosen to lock up, rather than kill or convert – serve only one of five purposes: forced labour, COVID-19 vaccine testing, organ harvesting, biological weapons testing, and proof of life.
With regards to proof of life, China keeps alive Uyghur detainees who have family members living overseas so as to not sound international alarm bells regarding its extermination programme, according to Government officials Sidick has spoken with, leaving the rest to die eventually from either starvation, disease, exhaustion or worse.
Earlier this month, Oelbinur Sedik, who taught Mandarin at a Uyghur concentration camp in 2017, recounted how her female students were gang raped by guards, “sometimes with electric batons inserted into the vagina and anus”.
Credible allegations of systemic rape and abuse have now been documented in a number of reports emerging from Xinjiang, with an Associated Press investigation finding that Uyghur women are subjected to forced sterilisations, forced contraception and forced abortions, based on Chinese Communist Party documents and interviews with 30 former detainees.
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China’s effort to curb and control the Uyghur population is now well known, but the international community is still failing to grasp the scale and severity of the abuse, according to Sidick, who believes that “the international community isn’t paying attention”.
In extraordinary detail, he describes how Government authorities are not only testing COVID-19 vaccines on detainees, but also from the population identified for indoctrination.
“Since the Coronavirus started, the Chinese Government has been experimenting vaccines on the entire Uyghur population,” says Sidick. “Everywhere is locked down. There’s a big residential complex in Urumqi. Many hundreds of people live there in tall buildings, and the Government took one person from each family – altogether about 165 people – and quarantined them in a remote hospital, with one person in each room, and examined them every day.
“A person from inside this facility told my source that authorities are taking blood twice per day for testing. They are given shots before they drink this Chinese medicine and then have to have an oral liquid test and also a blood test. What this is, is the Chinese authorities injected these people with the Coronavirus first, before they are given the vaccine. After they infected these people, they check on the results to see if the vaccine worked or not. I heard this directly from several people who have their family members there. These are all young people, 18, 19, 20 years or age. They didn’t experiment on old people.”
Sidick says that the Chinese Government has locked down entire schools and conducted these kinds of experiments. He has identified two COVID-19 vaccine testing camps at Bainiao Lake Vocational Training Centre, and the “new super hospital” built next to it, located at N 43° 48′ 25/ E 87 °17′ 50, and N 43° 49′ 19/ E 87 °18′ 0, respectively. Sidick says a Government official told him that there are now many of these facilities being built next to the concentration camps.
He also explained the ghoulish mechanics of China’s Muslim organ harvesting programme.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) transported and dispersed more than one million Uyghurs to various Han provinces first, then divided them into different groups. One group is for organ harvesting, another for biological experimentation, and others for other purposes, such as distributed killing. The CCP has run out money to maintain their vast concentration camps and is resorting to these kinds of means.”
Last year, the China Tribunal, comprising a panel of UK lawyers and human rights activists, reached a similar conclusion on China’s illegal organ harvesting programme after studying years of collected data.
“The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason,” said Sir Geoffrey Nice, the tribunal’s chairman. Many were “cut open while still alive for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale,” he added.
Asked about the Chinese Government’s guided tours of Xinjiang, and whether or not there would be evidence of ordinary Uyghur life in the region today, Sidick firmly replied “no, it’s gone”.
He added: “Right now, the language, religion and culture are gone. It went a couple of years ago.”
Masking the Reality of Repression
According to Sidick, the Chinese Government has turned the region into a deranged cultural version of Disneyland – or what he calls “Uyghurland” – where tourist attractions are dressed up to give the appearance and normalcy of Uyghur cultural life, but with Han Chinese participants and actors, not actual Uyghur people.
“The Government made the Uyghur people disappear but kept their culture,” he says. “I have relatives who are very famous in the arts in Urumqi, including singers and musicians. When I got word from them about two years ago, they told me that the Government assigned a Han Chinese person to each of them. These are famous Uyghur artists and they had to teach their Han Chinese person their skills. After they taught them, they were sent to concentration camps.
“The people you see in Xinjiang tourist attractions, the people you see singing and dancing and playing instruments, are Han Chinese but dressed up like Uyghurs. All of them. They are deceiving the world.”
For years, the Chinese Government has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the total Uyghur population in Xinjiang, including denying Uyghur Government employees access to census data. In more recent times, and with great alarm, the Chinese Communist Party has been revising the total Uyghur population downwards in public statements.
In a 2018 interview, Victor Gao, vice president of a Chinese Government think tank, claimed the total Uyghur population to be six to seven million, meaning that the Chinese Communist Party has cut the ethnic minority population by four to five million in the span of two years – but that’s only if the Government is to be taken at its word.
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“The number of 11.65 million Uyghur is the number the Chinese Government gives to the world but, if you speak to people in Kashgar-Hotan alone, and I mean professionals in the Government, they will tell you there’s seven or eight million in those areas alone,” says Sidick. “The actual total population is much bigger.”
Sidick explained how he and others estimate the total Uyghur population to have been roughly 18 million in 2016 – the year China began its crackdown on the ethnic Muslim minority. This figure was arrived at by calculating Chinese population growth in the period 1953 to 2010, the year of the most recent census data, and then adjusting it slightly upwards to allow for the fact that Uyghur population growth far exceeds that of the Han Chinese.
“Uyghur family sizes are big – like mine, I have six siblings,” Sidick says. “The Uyghur people have very large families. We did an extrapolation that way and came up with a Uyghur population that’s at least 18 million.”
If 18 million is accurate, and if China is claiming that the current population is fewer than seven million, or 11.65 million, as stated in its 2010 census, then that would mean somewhere in the range of six to 11 million Uyghur people are currently unaccounted for – a number that should send shockwaves around the world.
Sidick says that Chinese Government officials are taking deliberate and extreme measures to hide any trace of the disappeared, including using chemicals to decompose bodies, rather than using mass graves, and destroying all physical and digital evidence of victims’ identities, and even the computers in which that data is stored.
If what Sidick says is true, and if Beijing is aiming to eventually kill two-thirds of the total Uyghur population, then the international community is now faced with the very real prospect that China is on the way to murdering 10 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang – a number that would make it the largest scale genocide of a religious or ethnic minority since and including the Holocaust.