By Habibulla Izchi
August 20, 2020
Uyghur Times exclusive report
In early July 2020, with extreme hardships, an Uzbek young man who had set up a company at the Urumqi Foreign Trade Border Regional Port returned from Urumqi to his hometown in Fergana Valley. This return has given the young man the heavy responsibility of being a witness and testament to the recent political, economic, and humanitarian plight of the Uyghurs.
Having done business in Urumqi for many years, making many Uyghur friends, the young man who fell in love with the Uyghur Laghman and Öpke-Hesip (two Uyghur cuisines) in the Consull Street (a street name in Urumqi) and Hotan Kebab (Uyghur cuisine) in At-Beyge Meydani (a place name in Urumqi) was shocked and astonished by what he himself witnessed and heard from his Uyghur acquaintances that he said, “we (i.e. Uzbeks) have never seen such barbaric, animal-like people (i.e. the Chinese) even under the Soviet rule for a hundred years.” Thanks to the friendship between us and under repeated requests from me, he finally agreed to answer my questions conditionally.
Because his main business and company is in Urumqi, on condition that his identity and company not be disclosed, and only after having my strong promises, did he agree to provide the following information about our one common acquaintance who moved from Kucha to Urumqi to open a company.
The family of Yusuf Islam, who lived in Say Boyi in Kucha, have all been detained throughout the family and there is no one left to trace the whereabouts of the family members. Denominated as a so-called “counter-revolutionary” family since the Cultural Revolution, the family has been put into exile and surveillance. This is an education-loving business family who had shops and factories in Kuqa, Toksu, Bay, Shayar counties and companies in Urumqi. The eldest son of the family, his wife Reyhangul, their son Ablimit Yusuf and his wife, their son Abduhelil Yusuf and his wife, the founder of the Toksu County Ajim Food and Processing Plant Mehmet Yusuf and his wife, Abdukerem Yusuf, founder of Tawaruk Company and owner of Tawaruk chain supermarket, his wife Patigul, their sons Pahirdin and Sirajidin, Ayshem Yusuf and her husband, Minawar Yusuf and her husband Qurbanjan, son in law Yasin Memet, Risalet Yusuf etc. have all been detained since 2017 and some of the wives in the family and the children have been put into the concentration camps and some have been given prison sentences. Yasin Mehmet, the son-in-law of the family who has already been in the Blacklist of so-called “focus household”, was released after serving a 10-year sentence under the accusation that he attended the 1997 Hotan Conference and that he is a member of the East Turkestan Allah Party. He was re-detained at the beginning of 2017 together with his younger brother Abdulla who ran a supermarket in Shayar County. His wife Risalat and son Abdurrahman were taken to the Concentration Camp in late 2017.
Abdukerem Yusuf, the founder of Tawaruk Company, was taken from Urumqi to Kucha by the Kucha Public Security Bureau in 2017 together with his company employee Turgun Mehmet, his son Pahirdin and Sirajdin. He was allowed to go home due to a previous heart surgery that he had. But a few days later, Turgun Mehmet, Mumtazjan, Omar Barat, Abdullah, who had contact with the company, were all but detained. Mehmet Yusuf, the founder of the Toksu County Ajrim Food and Processing Plant, and his wife were detained from their Toksu factory and the factory was shut down from production and operation.
Abdukhelil Yusuf left for Kazakhstan in the 1990s and later returned and was imprisoned for three years due to this reason. He was re-detained and imprisoned in 2018. His wife was taken to the Concentration Camp. After Ablet Yusuf and his wife, Reyhangul, were detained, Ablet Yusuf died and his wife and brother-in-law Abdurrahimjan were taken to the Concentration Camp.
Ablimit Yusuf who has been put under surveillance was detained in 2017 together with his wife and daughters, leaving no one in the family to trace the whereabouts of their family. Their in-laws, business partners, and close associates were arrested or taken to the Concentration Camps.
To return to the essence of the matter, this family was a blacklisted family and they have always been under Chinese surveillance. Abdukerem Yusuf, who was detained together with all his family members at the beginning of the massacre, had been suffering from a serious heart condition and is still unaccounted for and no one knows whether he is still alive or dead.
This report was published on the Uyghur Times Uyghur language website on August 13, 2020. Translated into English by Uyghur Times English Channel.
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