Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) is infuriated by the lack of action from local authorities following the November 24th fire that broke out in the Tengritagh neighborhood located in Urumchi, East Turkistan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). On Thursday evening, an apartment building caught fire, killing more than 50 people including several young children. Although the CCP state media reported only 10 deaths, the names of at least 20 people have come to light. The Chinese government’s Covid Zero policy has reached a tipping point and after more than 100 days of Uyghur doors being welded shut, people are dying from starvation, lack of medical attention and suicide.
According to the New York Times, the fire started on the 15th floor of an apartment building and spread quickly to upper floors. According to locals, the firefighters arrived at the building two hours after the fire started to extinguish the flames, despite their close proximity. Residents of the building had been unable to escape as doors, including emergency exits, were welded shut. Qemernisahan Abdurahman and her children Nehdiye and Imran were among those who died.
Widespread protests have erupted across China and within Urumchi against Covid Zero and in support of the victims of the fire. Chinese residents took to the streets chanting ”we are human beings” and ”stop the lockdown”. The protests have spread worldwide with Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Chinese alike holding candlelight vigils, protesting in front of Chinese embassies as well as public squares.
The protests within China have been met with brutality and police forces have beaten and arrested protestors, as well as BBC journalists. An unverified video shows Chinese police forces firing on Uyghur protesters in Urumchi. CFU supports these protestors and their aims to restore their freedoms that have been taken through an unscientific and dangerous public health policy.
CFU Executive Director Rushan Abbas said “My sincere prayers go to the ones that perished in the horrific fire and my deepest condolences to their family members. This fire and its victims were an inevitable result of China’s draconian quarantines, and represents the many victims of these policies. These lockdowns have been used by the Chinese regime with callous disregard for people’s lives, and no end in sight. We call for our leaders to take tangible action and hold Beijing responsible for the continuous genocidal policies in our homeland.”
As a result of China’s complete neglect of its responsibilities and disregard for the Uyghur people, CFU asks immediate action from the international community and demands that the Chinese government immediately cease the severe COVID-related lockdowns and the violent repression of protesters.