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PEN America condemns death of Uighur author following detention in Chinese camp

PEN America has condemned the death of prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti, who died after being held in one of Xinjiang’s internment camps, reports the Guardian.

Tohti, aged 70, had been detained in a Xinjiang internment camp from November 2018 to March 2019. He was reportedly denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease, and was only released once his medical condition meant he had become incapacitated.

Tohti’s grandson Babur Ilchi wrote on his now-deleted Instagram account: ‘He was a respected writer; no affiliation with terrorism, which is what the Chinese government claims these concentration camps are fighting against. He deserved better, and so do the MILLIONS of Uighurs who are suffering in these camps.’

PEN America’s senior director of free expression programs, Summer Lopez, said: ‘The inhumane treatment reported at the internment camps is a grave illustration of the severity of China’s violations of free expression. Tohti’s death is a tragic loss to the Uighur literary community, at a time when the government is attempting to abolish their cultural and intellectual life.’

The internment camps, situated in the far western region of Xinjiang, are estimated to hold a million Uighurs and other Muslims in detention, with the purpose of the camps said to be ‘to get rid of their extremist thoughts’.


Category: International news


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