Blaming the CCP’s ‘draconian’ lockdowns and strict Covid-19 measures, Uyghur siblings, who lost loved ones in the fire tragedy in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, said their relatives might still be alive if the personnel of the neighbourhood committee had opened their doors.
One of the Uyghur siblings, Muhammed Memeteli, stated in a conversation with Radio Free Asia, “Additionally, we had heard from other people that while the fire was raging, members of the neighborhood committee stopped by the building’s apartments and evacuated a few residents. The head of the neighbourhood committee came to see our family as well but advised them to wait for the firefighters to arrive and extinguish the fire as they had called the fire department. My family would still be alive today if the neighbourhood committee employees had opened their doors and let us go. Our family members perished in that building while several others also perished from burn injuries.” The Urumqi event, in which 10 individuals perished, served as the trigger for this conversation.
The Uyghur siblings lost their mother, oldest sister, teenage sister, brothers, and youngest sister in the incident.
The incident in question took place on November 24 when a house in the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region caught fire. After the tragedy, people shared the footage online of the locals yelling and pleading with the police to unlock the exits. The residents claimed that they had been forced to close due to stringent Covid-19 limitations that had been in place for more than 100 days and had a significant negative impact on the community.
According to Radio Free Asia, Memeteli claimed that he learned about the Urumqi incident from social media sites.
Addressing the issue, Memeteli said, “On numerous news websites and social media platforms like TikTok, we saw a video of burning apartments that many people had posted. If the truck had entered the complex, they may have extinguished the fire. For more than three hours, the apartment complex was on fire, yet the fire vehicles remained outside the neighbourhood instead of going to the scene. For instance, the fire trucks could have approached the flaming apartment and doused it in water if they had driven through the military camp behind the complex, which has a 2-meter-wide corridor. They had plenty of time to put the fire out and save our family.”
According to Radio Free Asia, the siblings also wanted to be allowed to meet with their father and brother, if they were still alive. Memeteli pleaded with the world community to speak out about the suffering of the Uyghur people. “I request permission from the Chinese government to meet with my relatives, whom I haven’t been able to visit in the past seven years,” he said.
According to Radio Free Asia, the fire sparked irate demonstrations in Xinjiang that quickly spread to other Chinese cities. Many people offered their condolences to the victims and demanded an end to China’s strict ‘Zero Covid’ lockdowns.
China is in the middle of some of its fiercest protests against the stringent Covid curbs, with many memes, chants and catchphrases going viral.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Shanghai where people were hoarded into police cars. Students have also held demonstrations at universities in Beijing and Nanjing.
Shanghai’s 25 million people were put under lockdown for two months earlier this year, an ordeal that provoked anger and protest.
Chinese authorities have since then sought to be more targeted in their Covid-19 curbs. But that effort has been challenged by a surge in infections as China faces its first winter with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.