As many visiting this page know, since late 2016 the Chinese authorities in Xinjiang have pursued an aggressive initiative to “stabilize” and “re-educate” the region, creating a police state and sending over a million ethnic minorities (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Hui, Uzbeks, Tatars, and others) to various forms of detention and “education” – ranging from house arrest to detention houses to concentration camps to prisons.
In Kazakhstan, there are currently dozens – likely hundreds – of ex-detainees who have come out of this system and have successfully returned to Kazakhstan following the efforts of rights groups, media, activists, and Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, many of them have reported developing health issues – physical and psychological – following the trauma incurred during detention. Some have reported being tortured, suffering physical abuse, developing issues because of poor hygiene practices, and taking questionable medicines. Upon returning to Kazakhstan, many are struggling to cope with the post-trauma and have had to make hospital visits.
Seeing as how many of these victims are not from affluent families and do not have the resources to just go to a major city in Kazakhstan and get high-quality analysis and treatment, I have joined with local activists and rights groups representatives to raise the funds for them to come to Almaty, Kazakhstan and to get proper health examinations done at a state-of-the-art clinic.
As of September 2019, we have already carried out this procedure for approximately 10 victims. Many suffer from headaches or head trauma resulting from the stress and physical beatings while in detention. Of these, a few have had damaged ears/noses that have necessitated surgery. One ex-detainee required a hearing aid. Many, essentially men, have come forward about reproductive problems and have had to consult a urologist. As more people start to overcome their fears and request medical check-ups, we are looking at potentially putting another 10-30 people through this procedure.
The costs can vary significantly from person to person. In the base case, a fairly thorough check-up at a state-of-the-art clinic costs 150USD per person, after which further treatment may or may not be necessary. For those people with significant issues - of which there is a good amount - the treatment costs can easily go over 1000USD. While only a fraction of the total costs, covering the travel and housing expenses of those patients who come from outside Almaty also figures into the total (as approximately 10-30% of the total costs, depending on the case).
While the identities of those undergoing treatment with us cannot be publicly disclosed (unless by their own volition), it is sufficient to say that most of them have done very much for the Xinjiang issues, sharing their experiences with media and allowing the world a better glimpse at the real nature of what is happening in the region.
Thank you in advance for your aid,
Gene A. Bunin
P.S.: I am putting myself forth as the beneficiary of this fundraiser. I.e., the money raised will be transferred to my bank account and will then be redirected to covering the victims’ costs as needed.
Media coverage of this work: https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-after-xinjiang-the-long-road-to-recovery
- Ella Missey
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