A Uyghur man who protested a Chinese company’s demolition of his grandmother’s house in the restive Xinjiang region has been seriously assaulted and threatened with being forced into a psychiatric facility, according to sources.
Eli Quddus, a businessman who runs an import-export company, suffered a head injury when he and his brother-in-law were attacked at the company’s office by a group of up to 20 Han Chinese men armed with sticks and knives in the regional capital Urumqi on Monday.
The two had discussed compensation with a manager at the Touxing Company and were waiting to speak with a director when the group stormed into the office, calling them “troublemakers,” and assaulted them.
Land disputes, a common occurrence in China, have aggravated ethnic tensions in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where Uyghurs complain of an incoming tide of Han Chinese taking over their homeland.
After Eli Quddus was treated for the head injury in the emergency room of Urumqi’s No. 2 Hospital, doctors warned him that he could be sent to the No. 4 Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill. They told him there was no space for him to have a regular bed at the No. 2 Hospital.
“My head and ears are aching badly. My situation is very serious,” he told RFA’s Uyghur Service, while staying in a temporary bed set up in a corridor of the No. 2 Hospital.
“But the No. 2 Hospital is refusing to treat me and asking me to go the No. 4 Hospital, saying my brain might have been shaken and there might be some blood in it.”
Local officials in China have been known to use forcible psychiatric care to silence critics, locking away petitioners who expose corruption over forced evictions and other issues, rights groups have said.
'I think they have been bribed'
Eli Qudus suspects Touxing Company of bribing the hospital’s doctors, who he said refused to give information about his diagnosis to police who came to visit him.
“Between this and the refusal to give me a regular hospital bed, I think they have been bribed by Touxing,” he said.
Relatives and friends have raised his case with local officials, urging them to ensure he is given proper care, that those who attacked him are arrested, and that his grandmother receives adequate compensation for her home.
Shortly after his injury, friends brought him to the front door of the Xinjiang regional government offices in Urumqi, prompting officials to hold a meeting about his case, which two of his brothers attended.
“We have heard that the head of Touxing has connections with high officials in government so nobody can touch them,” a friend told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“It might be possible that the doctors have been bribed in this case,” he said.
Eli Quddus, who runs the Tewsiye Import-Export Company and is the legal representative of the Trig Razor Blade company, had previously complained to Touxing over the phone about his grandmother’s home since it was demolished in 2011 and taken over by a real estate company.
Violent forced evictions are continuing to rise in China, as cash-strapped local governments team up with development companies to grab property in a bid to boost revenue, rights groups say.
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA’s Uyghur Service. Translated by Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.