Uyghur Muslims fear impact of coronavirus on populations in camps in China
CALGARY -- Some members of Alberta's Uyghur community joined medical and political leaders in Calgary on Sunday to voice concerns the coronavirus outbreak could devastate the ethnic minority in China.
An estimated one million people of the Ughyr Muslim community have been forced into work camps in China's eastern province of Xinjiang since 2017.
Doctors and organizers of the Calgary news conference on Sunday say that population is more vulnerable to the outbreak as there is a lack of access to medical care in the camps.
"Possibly if the virus gets to the camp, they are going to contract it and they are going to die," said Dr. Fozia Alvi, president of the Humanity Auxilium.
The People's Republic of China calls the facilities vocational training centres for re-education.
Leaked documents to numerous media outlets reported the centres target ethnic minorities with loose or vague accusations to crimes to "re-educate or "de-radicalize" detainees.
Contact with family outside of the country has been restricted.
"Not one of us stays awake at night not wondering what happened to our family," said Babur Ilchi, spokesperson for the East Turkestan Association of Alberta
It has caught the attention of international governments.
"The United States urges all countries to join us in pressing for an immediate end to this repression," said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while in Kazakhstan over the weekend.
However, 14-year-old Mehliya Cetinkaya, who has numerous family members being held in camps, is calling for more international governments and the World Health Organization to intervene.
"It's really scary to see that this is happening right now in the 21st century where we should all be speaking out about this," she said.
In China, 304 people have died from coronavirus. There are an estimated 14,550 cases worldwide.