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Uighur author dies after being detained in Chinese 're-education' camp

Human rights groups have complained about huge Uighur abuses [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 June, 2019

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Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti has died in a Chinese detention centre, according to media reports.

Prominent Uighur writer Nurmuhammad Tohti, media reported on Wednesday, with his demise after being detained at China's highly-controversial "re-education" camp condemned by human rights groups.

Tohti, who was aged 70 when he died, was held in a detention camp from Tohti November 2018 to March 2019, The Guardian reported, with his granddaughter saying the writer was denied treatment for diabetes and heart disease.

He was released from a notorious re-education camp once he was "incapacitated" due to his medical condition, his daughter wrote on Facebook, with Tohti's family too scared to make the information public in case they too were detained.

Another granddaughter told Voice of America that they were not sure if Tohti died inside the camp or at home, due to fears of his family inside China to speak on the phone about his demise.

"The truth is that they put a 70-year old man with diabetes and heart disease inside a concentration camp and they cannot deny this," Berna Ilchi told the American broadcaster.

His grandson Babur Ilchi said that his grandmother told him the news about his death, which led her into trouble with the repressive Chinese regime.


"Shortly after the call, my grandma received a message from the Chinese government saying she had answered a foreign call and that that was a dangerous decision. What did she do other than tell us he had passed away? Why should that be met with consequences?" he wrote on Istagram.

"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."

Human rights groups say around a million Muslims - mostly Uighurs, but also Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities - are being detained in internment camps across the province.

Beijing claims the camps in Xinjiang are "vocational training centres" to steer people away from extremism and reintegrate them, in a region plagued by violence blamed on Uighur separatists or Islamists.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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