Online Posts Purport to Show Severe Lockdown Conditions in Xinjiang

Videos, voice messages, and WeChat posts purporting to show residents in the Ghulja (Yining), Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, area of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region crying out for food or medical attention have appeared online in recent days. As the Associated Press reported last week, governments in the region have imposed lengthy COVID lockdowns of sometimes more than 40 days. One video purports to show someone jumping off a building, presumably in despair about the situation.

ChinaFile cannot independently verify the authenticity of these social media posts. Babur Ilchi of the Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU), a U.S.-based advocacy group, said that his group had also been unable to independently corroborate the videos’ authenticity. “It’s hard to verify these kinds of videos, or reach out to people who film them,” he said. However, the sheer volume of videos coming out in recent days made CFU “feel very confident, unfortunately, that this is happening.”

Regardless of their authenticity, for the Uyghur community abroad, these videos represent yet another way in which the local population is at the whim of the Chinese government’s severe surveillance and social control measures. They also hint at the toll that the most extreme Zero-COVID policies can have on citizens who are stuck in quarantine for weeks on end, echoing the outpouring anger and frustration from residents of Shanghai earlier this year.

Health, Politics, Society
Xinjiang, Coronavirus