“We want to be fashionable” – Online calls for help from Yili locked in Xinjiang

OWith all eyes on Chengdu as the city of 21 million people has been in semi-lockdown since September 1, netizens in the confined areas of Yili, Xinjiang, are begging for help and reaching out through social networks.

Since July 30, Yili has had 1290 Covid case. A total of 23 cases were added on Saturday September 10.

Yili, or Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, is part of northern Xinjiang, near the border with Kazakhstan. Its main city, Yining (also known as Ghulja), is home to some 500,000 people and has since been closed. at least August 11. People complain about the lack of food, the “scandalous” prices of basic commodities and the lack of much-needed medical care.

On September 7, a woman wrote, “I am 41 weeks + 1 day pregnant and nine days past my due date. I bled today. I had already been in Xinhua Hospital for five hours when they told me that they were closing the hospital. There are 8 to 9 pregnant women waiting here. Where are we supposed to go, what are we supposed to do?

As the woman’s story gained attention online, Weibo later added an update to the woman’s account saying she had received medical attention and that mother and baby were doing well.

But his story is just one of many. On September 8, a Weibo netizen posted an “SOS” message saying that residents of the area who had been locked down for 36 days were becoming “desperate” as some families could not receive medical treatment for sick children or members. elders of the family.

An audio recording (video) featured a conversation between medical staff and family members, who had come to the hospital by ambulance with their sick (grand)father, but found that he could not be admitted due to new orders from the Health Committee. “He’s starting to vomit blood again,” one of the women can be heard shouting, “You don’t care? There’s blood, he’s having trouble breathing, what are you doing?! No matter what the Health Commission says, what can we do? Doctor! Doctor! Doctor, are you there?!”

Other families faced food shortages and reportedly went without food for days. “This is really happening during the outbreak in Yili, the locals tried a lot of things to let the outside world know about our situation here. Please look at us, help us in this small border town, we are locked down inside and don’t have enough supplies, yet they opened the tourist tourist areas, help us, help us here, help the Yili people!”

The Publish garnered over 60,000 likes, reposted over 11,000 times and received thousands of comments, with some saying, “We need to get this trending, how is that possible, the outside world doesn’t know!” “It’s all true, thank you for speaking up for us,” wrote a Xinjiang-based Weibo user.

Later, another netizen posted, “We’ve already been locked down for 39 days, I don’t have the words to express everything that’s going on here. We want to be trendy!

“We were locked down for 40 days and yet they opened the tourist areas,” a resident said the next day: “Children who have a fever of 40 degrees can’t even see a doctor, pregnant women can’t even in the hospital, we really can’t take it anymore.

With its beautiful meadows and incredible views, Yili is a popular travel destination in Xinjiang.

On September 9, Yili authorities held a press conference during which Vice Governor Liu Qinghua (刘庆华) confirmed that there had been problems accessing medical care and supplies and that authorities Local authorities were working to meet the medical needs of the public during this time.

But on social media, the complaints and cries of despair continue. Some people are sharing screen recordings of local community Wechat groups where mothers are crying out of worry for their children, there are people saying they are hungry and have not received any food.

Close contacts and people who tested positive for Covid who were taken to local fangcang or quarantine locations are also complaining about the conditions there. A makeshift quarantine location has been set up in August on a sports field where people were forced to sleep in tents despite the scorching heat, followed by wind and rain.

“We have been in this epidemic for three years already from 2020 to 2022, how can the measures still be so poor?” some wonder.

“I am patriotic and love my hometown,” wrote a netizen from Xinjiang on Weibo, “After I graduated, I had no hesitation in returning home to work here. But I have become desperate in recent years (..) I know that the government is only a state apparatus and it cannot be perfect everywhere and it can even be heartless, but people behind should at least have a heart. I really have become so numb.

“Here in Xinyuan County in Yili, I’ve been in lockdown for 31 days, how about you?” asked a person in the “Yili Supertopic” group on Weibo. “It’s my 42nd day,” one person replied.

Another person also wrote, “When can we go out, it’s been 42 days.” “When will the lockdown be lifted?” others wondered.

There are also discussions online about which posts are true, what is being censored and why, and how to distinguish rumors from what is actually happening.

Some stories circulating online suggested an older resident of Yili had hanged himself out of hunger and desperation, another story suggested there was a family with three children who had a high fever but could not get any help. These stories were later denied by local authorities, who claimed they were “lies made up by people with ulterior motives” (link) – all three children received medical help and the story of the suicide was allegedly fabricated.

“What is real is that the whole city has been silent for 41 days,” said a Weibo commenter. repliedwith another saying: “First they say it’s fake news, then they apologize.”

Others also wondered why Yili was still not trending on Weibo, with many suggesting the topic was deliberately kept out of hot lists.

As rain falls in Yili, some worry about tent quarantine camp patients, while others hail showers: ‘I hope the rain can wash away all the virus, so we can finally get out .

By Manya Koetse

With contributions from Miranda Barnes

Featured image via Weibo user @渣男90702.

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