Mihrigul Tursun

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Mihrigul Tursun
Mihrigul Tursun.jpg
Born (1989-12-28) 28 December 1989 (age 33)
Alma materGuangzhou University
British University in Egypt
Known forFormer detainee in Xinjiang re-education camps
Children2 sons, 1 daughter[1]

Mihrigul Tursun or Mehrigul Tursun (Uyghur: مېھرىگۈل تۇرسۇن, romanizedMehrigül Tursun; born 28 December 1989), is a reported former Uyghur detainee from Xinjiang, China. After immigrating to the United States in 2018, Tursun said that she was taken into the custody of Chinese authorities several times, including being imprisoned at one of a network of political "re-education camps" for Uyghurs, subject to torture, and that one of her sons died while she was in the custody of Chinese authorities in 2015. Her story was widely reported in international media.[2] In 2019 Hua Chunying of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China denied Tursun's allegations and gave the Ministry's own account of events.[3]

In China[edit]

Mihrigul Tursun, born in China on 28 December 1989. Her family lives in the Qiemo County, Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, in Xinjiang. In May 2015 after returning from Egypt, where she was studying, and where she had married and had triplets,[4] while her husband remained in Egypt, she was allegedly taken into custody by Chinese authorities, imprisoned for several weeks in the Xinjiang re-education camps, and during that time, according to her testimony, one of her infant sons died in a hospital under mysterious circumstances.[2] According to Tursun, she was arrested because she had lived for a time in Egypt, and that was enough to attract the attention of the authorities due to a perceived threat of religious radicalization (she was arrested at the airport immediately following her arrival).[2] According to Chinese authorities, she was arrested on suspicion of inciting ethnic hatred and discrimination.[3] She was later detained again in April 2017 and January 2018.[2]

In early 2018 she was given permission to take her children to Egypt, where they had been born and whose citizenship they also hold. In September 2018 she immigrated to the United States with her two other children.[2]

In the United States[edit]

Mihrigul Tursun testifies at the National Press Club in Washington.

On 26 November 2018, Mihrigul Tursun gave testimony at National Press Club in Washington, DC. There she testified that detainees in those camps are beaten, starved, electrocuted, and strip-searched. She said: "My hands bled from their beatings, each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently and I could feel the pain in my veins, I thought I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me."[5][6][4][7][8]

On 28 November 2018, Mihrigul Tursun, speaking through a translator, testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China about her experience over a series of three internments. She said: "There were around 60 people kept in a 430 square feet [40 m2] cell so at nights, 10 to 15 women would stand up while the rest of us would sleep on sideways so we could fit, and then we would rotate every 2 hours. There were people who had not taken a shower over a year."[9][10][11][12][13]

In December 2018, Tursun received a Citizen Power Award.[14][15]

Tursun in an interview stated that she has not seen her husband since 2015, and she has learned that upon his return to China in 2016 he was arrested and sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment (of which his family was not informed and about which she learned only in 2018).[2]

While in the USA, she also learned that she had been forcibly sterilized, presumably during compulsory treatments while in custody in China.[16]

In 2019 What Has Happened to Me – A Testimony of a Uyghur Woman, a Japanese comic book recounting the story told by Mihrigul Tursun, illustrated by artist Tomomi Shimizu, has become a viral hit on the Internet.[17][18][19][20]

China's reaction[edit]

Responding to a CNN report,[21] in 2019 China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying denied Tursun's allegations and gave their own account of the events. According to Hua, Tursun was taken into custody by Qiemo County police for 20 days from 21 April – 20 May 2017 on suspicion of inciting ethnic hatred and discrimination but she was never jailed or put in a "vocational training" center (the government's term for the internment camps).[5][8] Hua said that apart from those 20 days, she was totally free during her stay in China and traveled abroad extensively. Hua also said that while detained, she was diagnosed with an unspecified infectious disease, rejected Tursun's claim that one of her sons died in Ürümqi's Children's Hospital, and said that her husband, an Egyptian, left the country with her and her children, returning to Egypt in April 2018.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "From death to freedom: Horror in Chinese camps(1)". www.rfa.org. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Interview: 'I Did Not Believe I Would Leave Prison in China Alive'". www.rfa.org. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 21, 2019". Foreign Ministry of China. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Woman describes torture, beatings in Chinese detention camp". www.washingtontimes.com. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b Yan, Sophia (28 November 2018). "'I begged them to kill me', Uighur woman describes torture to US politicians". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Uighur woman describes torture, drugging and degrading treatment in Chinese detention camp". www.japantimes.co.jp. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  7. ^ "China will retaliate to any US sanction over Muslim Uighurs: envoy". www.smh.com.au. 28 November 2018. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Academics condemn China over Xinjiang camps, urge sanctions". Al Jazeera. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  9. ^ "Muslim woman describes torture and beatings in China detention camp: 'I begged them to kill me'". www.independent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 May 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  10. ^ "'I Begged Them to Kill Me.' Uighur Woman Tells Congress of Torture in Chinese Internment Camps". www.time.com. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  11. ^ "In Full – Ex-Xinjiang detainee Mihrigul Tursun's full testimony at the US congressional hearing". www.hongkongfp.com. 8 December 2018. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  12. ^ "China's repression of Uighurs won't stop until the international community intervenes". www.religionnews.com. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Uighur mother asks Congress to 'take strong action' against China's re-education camps". www.thehill.com. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  14. ^ "The 2018 Citizen Power Awards - Mihrigul Tursun". Archived from the original on 2 February 2020. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Uyghur issue draw attention in Chinese democracy conference". www.rfa.org. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  16. ^ "China's sick acts on female prisoners — forced sterilisation". NewsComAu. 13 August 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  17. ^ Denyer, Simon (14 December 2019). "Japanese manga about a Uighur woman's persecution in China becomes viral hit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Japanese Author Details Experiences of Female Xinjiang Camp Detainees Through Manga". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  19. ^ Sakai, Hideto (27 December 2019). "With Uighur comic, Japanese manga artist aims to highlight everday 'suffering'". Reuters. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  20. ^ "Manga on Uighur woman's testimony of torture in China goes viral". The Japan Times. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  21. ^ Ivan Watson and Ben Westcott. "Uyghur refugee tells of death and fear inside China's Xinjiang camps". CNN. Retrieved 19 July 2021.

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