A young Uyghur boy who went missing earlier this month in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) was abducted by human traffickers and left for dead in a field with his organs removed, according to official sources.
Abdulla Rahmanjan, 13, of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) city in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture, disappeared on March 2 while en route to class at the Central Middle School in Uchon Hui township, according to a missing person’s notice circulating on social media last week.
Information shared on Chinese language messaging app WeChat days later indicated that the sixth-grade student had been taken to to a remote field by “human traffickers” who murdered him and removed his organs. A video posted around the same time purported to show Rahmanjan’s family members crying and wailing in the field where his body was found.
To verify the accuracy of the claims, RFA’s Uyghur Service called an ethnic Hui resident of Uchon Uyghur township, who confirmed that he had heard about the incident, but said that because it occurred relatively far away in Uchon Hui township, he was unable to provide details about what happened.
Another resident of Uchon Uyghur township said she had also heard of the incident and that the boy in question was from Uchon Hui township’s Tohuchi’yuzi village, while an employee from a neighborhood committee office said local authorities had held a meeting in the village afterRahmanjan’s body was found and urged residents to vigilantly watch over their children.
RFA was also able to contact an officer with the Ghulja County Police Station who initially deferred questions to higher-level authorities before sharing some details about the case that he had been informed of, including that the incident had occurred far from his station in Uchon Hui township’s Tohuchi’yuzi village.
However, RFA read a notice about the incident that had circulated on social media to a second officer who confirmed that the same notice had been shared in the station where he works. Among the details in the notice were Rahmanjan’s disappearance, murder, and organ removal.
“We received such a notice. We saw it and we gave special notice to the people,” he said.
According to the officer, his station had been informed of Rahmanjan’s murder by “the head of the [local] PSB (Public Security Bureau),” who he said had been “holding meetings for us every day” following the incident.
Nonetheless, he said that he and his fellow officers were unaware of who the suspects in the crime are and whether they had been caught.
He said local police had been ordered to become “stricter with surveillance” and have been “investigating every district” in response to the murder, while also working to ensure the safety of area children.
Children at risk
Authorities in the XUAR are believed to have held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a vast network of internment camps since early 2017, and jailed tens of thousands of others, for “crimes” related to what they deem “religious extremism.”
Chinese officials have said camps in the XUAR are centers for “vocational training,” but reporting by RFA and other media outlets shows that detainees are mostly held against their will in cramped and unsanitary conditions, where they are forced to endure inhumane treatment and political indoctrination.
While it was not immediately clear whether Rahmanjan’s parents were ever incarcerated, or in custody at the time of his murder, RFA has reported several times on children in the region who have died or been severely injured while their guardians were in detention.
RFA has also previously reported about how Uyghur children whose parents are held in camps are regularly sent to orphanages that are seriously overcrowded, with sources calling the conditions “terrible” and describing children “locked up like farm animals in a shed.”
In December 2019, a five-year-old Uyghur boy named Nesrulla Yusuptohti who was left in the care of grandparents because his parents were detained for religious and political reasons was found frozen to death in a ditch in Hotan (Hetian) prefecture’s Lop (Luopu) county.
A year prior, Rahmutullah Shirbaqi, the two-year-old son of a Uyghur couple detained at a camp in Hotan’s Qaraqash (Moyu) county, drowned after falling through ice into an irrigation ditch while in the care of his elderly grandparents.
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by RFA’s Uyghur Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.