A Uyghur police officer in China who was said to have committed suicide was instead tortured to death, a source said.
Local officials confirmed to RFA that Nurmemet Yusup had died during the first week of August, though they said the cause of death was not immediately clear. Police officers, meanwhile, said Nurmemet committed suicide during an interrogation.
Nurmemet, who worked at the Urumqi Horse Racing police station in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi (in Chinese, Wulumuqi), was arrested in late July on suspicion of sympathizing with a criminal when he previously worked in a “re-education” camp. He was said to have “wiped vomited blood from the face of a camp detainee,” said the source who declined to be name so as to speak freely.
China has held up to 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in a network of detention camps since 2017. Beijing has said that the camps are vocational training centers and has denied widespread and documented allegations that it has mistreated Muslims living in Xinjiang.
The U.S. and parliaments in several European countries have called the treatment of Uyghurs and others in Xinjiang a genocide and a crime against humanity.
A source with knowledge of the situation told RFA that Nurmemet had been tortured to death and that his torturer had been disciplined.
A police officer in Urumqi’s Ulanbay district said Nurmemet’s death was a state secret and that a special notice had been issued for officers not to disclose the cause.
“We know this case, but this is a state secret,” he said. “We can’t tell you anything about this.”
A local official identified one of Nurmemet’s interrogators as a police officer named Hamit. The source said that he was disciplined by the police department for excessive use of force during questioning.
RFA called the Ulanbay, Qarlighachliq and Horse Racing police stations and asked for information about the police officer named Hamit.
One officer said he had been summoned to his police station on the night of Nurmemet’s death. He was initially asked to remain on duty but later ordered to return home. He said he was not informed about Nurmemet’s situation while at the station.
“After that, we received a notice from the Urumqi Police Department that any information related to that night was not meant to be revealed and should be kept secret,” the police officer said.
The same policeman also mentioned that an officer named Hamit was one of Nurmemet’s interrogators.
Hamit had been an exemplary police officer in the past four years, but because of an incident where he used excessive force, higher-ups revoked an exemplary work award had received, he said.
Translated by the Uyghur Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.