“When I came to America, I could see that this is human. They, as a people, are living as a human. But in China, no. That’s different. You’re living in a cage…like animals.”
Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region are being actively persecuted, oppressed, and sent to concentration camps for “re-education” where they are tortured, abused, indoctrinated, and killed. In an exclusive interview with National File, Chinese Uyghur Mamatili Yakuf tells his story, where he describes a dark, dystopian, authoritarian China.
Yakuf was born and raised in Xinjiang, China. He fled Communist China in 2016, after years of mistreatment, abuse, and neglect by his government for being a member of the Uyghur ethnic minority. His friends tell him that it was a “miracle” that he made it out safely, before it was too late, that he would be dead if he hadn’t.
In China, Yakuf grew up Muslim, but converted to Christianity nearly 20 years ago after meeting a Christian Uyghur who became his good friend. After reading the Bible for two years, Yakuf converted and accepted Christ. Yakuf noted that the Chinese government takes a particular disliking to Christian Uyghurs “because we are open minded,” and that the CCP wants “Uyghurs to stay Muslim” because they view it as “a good reason to control them” by calling them terrorists. Yakuf highlighted an ideological divide between the Uyghur Christians and Uyghur Muslims exacerbated by the communists. “For me it’s like two pressures. One is from our people and one is from the government.”
However, his religious conversion made little difference to the CCP. According to Yakuf, all Uyghurs, Christians and Muslims alike, face oppression at the hands of the government. “They don’t care about what religion you have. The government wants to reduce numbers.”
“I went to many big cities in the past,” explained Yakuf. “If you go to any hotel, they check us a lot. They check on why you’re here. They look down on us as a terrorist, any Uyghurs. If you are a good Chinese, good worker, rich or poor, if you go to any place like Shanghai or Beijing, or any city, you go to any hotel, they check because you have [identification] numbers. We have numbers like 65, says you’re from Xinjiang. And it ultimately goes to the police station where they see we are Uyghurs…They see our identity and they say no, because we are Uyghurs,” Yakuf said.
“We understood China very well, you know. So, there is no hope for us. There is no hope,” said Yakuf, when asked why he decided to flee his home country and seek a better life in the United States.“When I came to America, I could see that this is human. They, as a people, are living as a human. But in China, no. That’s different. You’re living in a cage…like animals.”
He explained that the Chinese government utilizes a type of quota system used for filling the Uyghur concentration camps, and that the governor is involved to ensure the capacity numbers are satisfactory in the eyes of the CCP. Chen Quanguo is currently the Chinese Communist Party Committee Secretary of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and has built up a reputation for his draconian measures overseeing the ongoing human rights abuses in the region.
The Chinese government asserts that their crackdown on the Uyghur population provides “vocational education and training” for individuals in an effort to combat poverty and Islamic terrorism, but they have been widely condemned for placing hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in facilities that resemble concentration camps, where horrible atrocities have been reported.
“Testimony in a new BBC report add new and shocking details as to the extent of the torture human beings suffered in the camps. A particularly grisly claim is that Chinese Communist guards use electric batons to rape women, electrocuting them from the inside.
One of the survivors interviewed by the BBC, Tursunay Ziawudun, said she endured nine months in a Xinjiang concentration camp and was subjected to torture and gang-rape on almost a daily basis.”
When asked if COVID-19 had any impact on the Chinese government treatment of the Uyghur population, Yakuf said things have only gotten worse. He explained that the government is using the virus to experiment on Uyghurs and reduce the population under the guise of the pandemic. “COVID-19 is good for the Chinese government to test people and create medicine. I think they use Uyghurs as animals. Also, this is a good time for the government to reduce numbers. They can kill thousands and thousands of people and say to the world, this is COVID,” said Yakuf.
Yakuf believes the virus was scientifically engineered in a lab by the Chinese government. “We say that COVID-19 is a virus that came from a lab. We can say that, we understand trusting the Chinese government. They created the virus from a lab because they have many ways to walk. They burnt themselves first, then this fire goes to others, then the virus is gone. If at first you get this virus, then you give it to other countries. If a million people died in China, that’s nothing. They don’t care about their people.”
“We say the CCP is a liar. That’s the only thing I can say. The truth doesn’t come from the CCP. They are liars,” said Yakuf, who expressed great frustration with his government’s decision to oppress his people, who had lived in China long before the rise of communism.
When discussing the international community, governments, and corporations who have strong partnerships with China, Yakuf said “They have two things. One thing is money, the second is girls. They give you money, if you’re not interested in money, they give you girls. Beautiful girls, you cannot say no.” He went on to describe a system rife with strategic corruption, blackmail, extortion, and bribery. “China’s government has more money. Richest government in the world,” explained Yakuf.
Joe Biden recently said he won’t speak out against the Uyghur genocide, citing China’s “cultural norms,” as National File reported. But when we asked Mr. Yakuf about the US government’s past and current approach to Communist China, Yakuf noted that he appreciated the actions taken by President Donald Trump, and remains hopeful that the Biden administration will “care more about Uyghurs” going forward.
“I love Trump because Trump was against China. He was very, very serious against them so we love Trump in this way. Because even Trump doesn’t like immigration, and that’s okay for us, but he understood China very well I think. So he’s against China, Trump understood better than anyone else I think. Biden, our President is good, working better, but I don’t know what’s next. But then I hope that Biden will care more about Uyghurs and immigration in the United States because our status is asylum pending. So we don’t have proof yet, so we cannot speak out,” said Yakuf.
Mamatili Yakuf’s remarkable story will continue to be covered by National File.