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People gather for a vigil and hold white sheets of paper in protest over COVID-19 curbs in Beijing, China, November 27. (Photo Credit: REUTERS)
People gather for a vigil and hold white sheets of paper in protest over COVID-19 curbs in Beijing, China, November 27. (Photo Credit: REUTERS)

If they had let my family out, they would still be alive, says Uyghur sibling

ANI | Updated: Dec 02, 2022 05:17 IST

Beijing [China], December 2 (ANI): Uyghur siblings, who lost their family members to the fire incident in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region's capital Urumqi, said that his kin would have been alive if the neighbourhood committee staff have opened the door.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Muhammed Memeteli, one of the Uyghur siblings said, "We had also heard from other people that the neighbourhood committee cadres stopped by the apartments in the building and took some people out while the fire was blazing. The neighbourhood committee chief also visited our family, but told them they should wait for the firefighters to come and put out the fire because they had telephoned the fire department ... If the neighbourhood committee staff had opened the door and let my family out, they would still be alive. It was not just our family members who died; numerous people burned to death in that building."
This interview was based on the Urumqi incident where 10 people lost their lives. In that incident, the Uyghur siblings lost their mother, teenage sister, brothers and youngest sister.
On November 24, a fire tore through a residential building in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region's capital Urumqi. After the incident, citizens circulated the videos on the internet space, with residents screaming and demanding authorities to open exits. The residents said that they were closed under strict COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for more than 100 days and have caused widespread hardship.
Memeteli said that he heard about the Urumqi incident on social media platforms, according to Radio Free Asia.

Talking further about the incident, Memeteli said, "We saw the video of burning apartments on several news and social media sites like TikTok that many people shared. They could have put out the fire if the truck had entered the complex. The apartment building was on fire for more than three hours, but the fire trucks did not enter the area and waited outside the neighbourhood. For example, if the fire trucks drove through the military camp behind the complex, where there is a 2-meter-wide alley, they could have approached the burning apartment and doused it with water. They had ample time to extinguish the fire and rescue our family."
Memeteli also said that they (Uyghur's siblings) wanted to ask the international community not to ignore our suffering, and to give them a voice. He further added that the siblings like to know where their father, who was to 16 years in prison and their elder brother, who was taken to an internment camp, is.
The siblings also demanded to allow them to meet with their father and brother if alive, reported Radio Free Asia.
Memeteli urged the international community to not stay silent regarding Uyghur's suffering. "I call on the Chinese government to let me meet with my relatives, who I haven't been able to see for the past 7 years," he added.
The fire prompted angry protests in Xinjiang that spread to other cities in China over the following days, with many people expressing condolences for the victims and calling for an end to China's strict zero-COVID lockdowns, compulsory COVID-19 testing and mass tracking and surveillance via the Health Code smartphone app, as per Radio Free Asia. (ANI)