“My legs hurt, and one leg is almost paralyzed. They are killing me like this. I beg for your help.”

Original videos sent by Aimurat Erzhuman to his cousin in Kazakhstan (in Kazakh). WARNING: Some of the content is graphic.

As cancer worsens, Aimurat Erzhuman sends videos out of Xinjiang.

The following is a translated transcript of a series of videos released by Aimurat Erzhuman in 2022, from Xinjiang, in a desperate attempt to convey his situation to the world outside. He sent the videos to Erkinbek Baqytbek, his cousin in Kazakhstan, who then uploaded them to YouTube with the help of the Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights organization. In the videos, Aimurat talks about – and shows – the cancerous tumor on his right foot, which started as a result of being beaten in police custody in late 2017, with surgery only being done six months later, while Aimurat was being held at a pre-trial detention center. Following his release from detention in 2021, the illness recurred in the fall of that year, and was followed by additional surgery. According to Aimurat, he has been forbidden from leaving Xinjiang and given very limited access to medical treatment, with local authorities fearing that he would go to Beijing and appeal to the higher authorities there.

Aimurat: I am Aimurat Erzhuman. Every day, I am unable to sleep. I cannot sleep at night. I sleep for half an hour or ten minutes during the day, and cannot sleep at other times.

The pictures are from May 18, 2022, when I was stopped from going to Beijing for treatment. They were afraid that I would appeal, and the police detained me while I was on my way. The pictures are from that day. They did not allow me to take pictures or videos, and those are the ones I somehow managed to take.

I need to lie down now. I cannot go outside. I cannot walk. Here, you see? [shows foot] I cannot walk.

Aimurat: The internet police stopped my pictures and videos from being uploaded to Douyin. Some of them have gone through this, some of them haven’t. It’s been hard for me. I have two kids. I’m not in good condition.

Aimurat: My legs hurt!

Aimurat: Aimurat Erzhuman.

Visitor/caretaker [identity not clear]: What happened to you then?

Aimurat: It was a mild injury. When they detained me, they beat me, tying me to a stool and [not clear], the blood vessel rupturing. After half a year, I had an operation at the detention center…

Visitor: When the blood vessel ruptured, it…

Aimurat: It was a blister.

Visitor: It was a blister…

Aimurat: I had an operation after half a year in the detention center. After the operation… They smashed it on December 20, 2017, and the operation was done on May 27, 2018. They cut out the rotten part and cleaned it. It started to swell again in around late August / early September 2021. They operated again on December 9, 2021. On February 22, 2022, it recurred.

Visitor: When it recurred…


Aimurat: June 12, 2022. Aimurat Erzhuman. I’m receiving treatment at a private clinic.

Aimurat’s Chinese ID.

Aimurat: I am Aimurat Erzhuman. June 18, 2022. They were afraid that if I left Xinjiang, if I left for Beijing, I would appeal. So they did not allow me to leave this place and this caused my health to deteriorate seriously. It would be better if I died here. It would be good for them. They found a doctor, but I refused to receive treatment from them. Because they refused to sign on my operation. They might kill me. They might kill me, worried that I might appeal and that it might cause problems for them. The operation would carry risks and they are asking me to sign on that, but they are not signing it.

This is the result of me being held in prison in Xinjiang. I am showing them the evidence and they are neither admitting it nor letting me leave Xinjiang. They are not allowing me to go to Beijing or to the central government. They are killing me by locking me up here.

Aimurat: June 24, 2022. It’s been a month since my arrival. This is what my foot looks like. My toes might fall off. I’m in a very difficult situation. When I appeal to the local government in Xinjiang, they all refer my appeals to the Tianshan District. They follow me closely and monitor my phone calls. I am taking a risk doing this, as I haven’t got any other choice.

I am receiving treatment in Shaueshek [Tacheng City]. However, I haven’t seen any positive result. There is a chemical substance called “electrolyte” – it’s what you pour into an accumulator. I burn my wound with it. It was after I started using this electrolyte water that they pour into accumulators that I started suffering from insomnia. When I use it, my muscles and tendons ache. I can’t sleep.

Who will protect our human rights? Why did they do this to me? On May 18, they told me that they would respond in two days. I came here to see a private doctor to disinfect the wound. They still haven’t responded yet, always saying that they’ll do it tomorrow. They are trying to kill me, leaving me here like this.

Aimurat: June 28, 2022. I am burning my feet with this substance, as I don’t have any other way. If I don’t, it continues to grow. This is the electrolyte water used in accumulators. I am having a difficult time since they did not allow me to see a doctor. They are torturing me like this by locking me up. They are worried that I will appeal if they allow me to see a doctor in Beijing. This is the electrolyte water used in accumulators and it is very powerful, as it can burn earth as well.

The initial operation wasn’t done correctly. They covered my foot with skin right after that first operation, without doing any disinfection. If they had killed the bacteria then, it wouldn’t have turned out like this now. Now they do not admit their fault. They operated on my feet on December 9, 2021 in the cancer hospital. But they did not carry out any other treatment for two months, besides covering it with skin, which resulted in recurrence.

The tumor hospital in Urumqi, where Aimurat likely underwent the most recent operation.

Aimurat: June 28, 2022. I am in a car, going to see a doctor. It started to bleed after a bit of walking, so I had to put plastic around it. The policeman with me is in that barbershop getting a haircut. This is the car.

Driver/policeman: They do not look at you when they speak.

Aimurat: A street in Shaueshek… We’re on our way to the hospital.

Aimurat: Aimurat Erzhuman. I was hospitalized in November 2021. I am still here. I have appealed to the local government many times, but they did not even glance at my appeals. When I said that I would appeal to the upper-level government, they started threatening me, saying that it would affect my two kids. They don’t let me receive treatment or appeal at the higher level. My home is under 24-hour surveillance. They think that I will leave and are not returning my passport to me.

On December 20, 2017, they beat me and injured my foot, operating on it on May 27, 2018 in the detention center. At the end of August 2021, it regrew, and has changed into cancer. Please help me. I can’t sleep at night – it’s been like this for over a month now. I sleep a bit during the day and can’t sleep at all at night.

They are torturing me like this. They’ve made mistakes and are not admitting them. I’ve written to them many times and they’ve just ignored it. I wrote to one policeman this morning, and the answer was that Eid is coming and they are busy. Can I care about Eid in my state?

Doctors said that my foot should have been amputated earlier. It might have reached my thigh now, they said. My legs hurt, and one leg is almost paralyzed. They are killing me like this. I beg for your help.

Aimurat: July 8, 2022. I’ve been waiting for two days here in the Tianshan District. They keep delaying it. Today they told me wait until the end of Eid. It’s been nine days. I can’t sleep and this is so hard to bear. It’s getting worse every day. This is so hard.

A 2017 photo of Aimurat from the Urumqi police records, before detention. The records suggest that he was employed at the Baiyanggou Village administration committee.

Aimurat: I am talking only about myself. I don’t know what is going on with other ethnic minorities. They might be living a miserable life, like me. You can find all 56 ethnicities of China in Xinjiang now. There are ethnic minorities, such as the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uyghurs, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Tatars.

I am not happy with the government and the cadres. Because the policies at the lower-level government do not match those of the upper-level government. There is no such thing as human rights here. I wouldn’t be in this condition if there were human rights. They shouldn’t have threatened my children, either. All my letters of appeal have been blocked, so – where are our human rights?

If they were protecting our human rights, then why is this being left without an answer? Why? The human rights policies are not being implemented correctly. This is all the fault of the cadres in Xinjiang. Some of the cadres in Xinjiang are hindering our appeals from progressing. They colluded to forbid us from either appealing in Beijing or leaving Xinjiang.

Aimurat: I am Aimurat Erzhuman. July 6, 2022. I am currently staying near the police station where I was beaten. They ignored my letters of appeal while I was in prison. They operated on me there. They operated on me in the detention center hospital without carrying out any medical check-up. The tumor would later turn into cancer.

Aimurat: They are denying us our human rights. I’ve told the authorities that they’ve trampled on our rights and that it has affected my entire family. If human rights exist and are protected, then why am I here in this condition now?  There might be numerous people like me out there who are suffering. I don’t have any rights, and I don’t know if this is because of my being Kazakh or something else.

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