Entry of 5393       

Tursynbek Qabi (吐尔逊别克·哈比)

Chinese ID: 654221197302073053 (Dorbiljin)

Age: 35-55    Detention reason: unclear    Detention type: released
Gender: M    Detention time: July 2017 - Sep. 2017    Health status: has problems
Ethnicity: Kazakh    Profession: unclear    Location: outside China

List(s): Eyewitness accounts, Forced labor cases, Examples of international / media pressure on Xinjiang authorities, Victims with foreign residence, Covered in international media

Testifying party (submitted by third party)

Most testimonies and Testimony 11-12: Oralqan Abenqyzy moved to Kazakhstan from China with her family in 2016. She has already obtained Kazakhstan citizenship. Her Kazakh ID number is 810204000. Lives in Almaty Region.

Testimony 13: Tursynbek Qabiuly.

Victim's relation to testifier

Most testimonies and Testimony 11-12: husband

Testimony 13: Himself.

About the victim

Tursynbek Qabiuly (吐尔逊别克•哈比), born on February 7, 1973, passport no. E85853261. Chinese citizen. His Chinese ID number is 654221197302073053. Kazakhstan green card: 042074458.

He went to China on September 5, 2017. The local police seized his passport and Kazakhstan Permanent Resident card on his arrival.

Address (in China): Address: No. 001815, Seventh Husbandry Team (牧业七队), Yemule farm (也木勒牧场), Emin county

Victim's location

In Kazakhstan.

When victim was detained

Documents confiscated as he entered China on September 5, 2017. Taken for 6 days of interrogation in a basement cell on September 28 (not clear if 2017 or 2018 - Globe and Mail article says 2017, but self-testimony seems to suggest 2018).

Probable (or official) reason for detention


Victim's status

Testimony 12: returned to Kazakhstan on February 2, 2019.

[G. A. Bunin: In mid-March 2019, a source familiar with Tursynbek's case told me that he was now having blood issues.]

How did the testifier learn about the victim's status?

Testimony 13: Self-testimony.

Additional information

At one point, Oralqan's husband contacted her to tell her he was going to divorce her. She assumes this is because he was forced to do so, so that she won’t be able to appeal as a spouse. They married legally and they have three children. Two daughters and a son - Baythan Tursynbek (born in 2001), Aqerke Tursynbek (2006), and Aqedil Tursynbek(2011).

Self-testimony from the victim (Testimony 13, summarized by G. A. Bunin):

He went to his hometown in China on September 5, 2017, with the border staff taking away his passport and arranging for a car to take him to his hometown in Emin County (around 50 km away from the Bakhty border crossing). The next day, the local police told him not to visit them for the coming month unless there was an emergency. He didn't know what to do.

After some time, he heard that his son in Kazakhstan injured his forehead and had to have an operation. Collecting all the necessary documents to prove it, he went to the police, but they wouldn’t return his passport, finding various excuses. They told him not to turn off his mobile phone and to be ready at any time to visit the station. He had to attend a flag-raising ceremony every Monday.

In May, they called him to the police station. It was crowded and everybody was asked to fill in a form where they had to state their faith, if they were religious, and if they believed in the power of the Communist Party. The police warned that there’d be consequences if they wrote that they believed in God. In the end, Tursynbek wrote that he didn't believe in God.

In June, they called him in again, saying that his children in Kazakhstan had filed a petition. Tursynbek told them that he wasn't aware of it. In fact, he didn't even have their contact info, having deleted them from his WeChat account. At the end of August, he was summoned again, with the police informing him that his passport was cancelled and that he had supposedly signed off on it himself, even though he had never signed such a document.

On September 28, two guys from Homeland Security (国保队) came to meet him, taking him to a basement for an interrogation. It was nearly 20 meters underground, in a cell slightly larger than 10 square meters in area and with 6 barred cages in the cell, each smaller than one square meter. There were benches inside, but the cages were so tiny that you couldn't even lie down. Tursynbek would be questioned in a different room for three hours, in a tiger chair. The men, ethnic Kazakh police, asked him if he knew “Zharqyn 7”, or if he had ever listened to his lectures. Later, he was also asked about his relatives, including the deceased ones, as well as about his classmates, primary school teachers, and friends. They asked him to write a report about his current friends.

While he was in the cage, he saw a Kazakh man who had worked as a teacher, named Ashel Token. Ashel was accused of talking to people in Kazakhstan over WeChat.

Tursynbek would spend a total of 6 days there, having only rice and steamed buns. He says that it wasn't so hard to eat less, but that it was hard not to drink water. He was always thirsty.

When they were about to release him, they made him say "Long live Xi Jinping, long live the Communist Party", and warned that he should make his family members stop petitioning.

He then had to have a cadre as his “relative”, despite not even having his own house there. So he met up with his "relative” on the street and they agreed to report that they lived together. The cadres needed to give their non-cadre "relatives" 30 RMB per night for their hospitality.

Tursynbek’s hometown police would call him in regularly to fill in paperwork, later questioning him daily because he had informed his wife about his mother-in-law's (https://shahit.biz/eng/viewentry.php?entryno=278) detention and his brother-in-law's (https://shahit.biz/eng/viewentry.php?entryno=279) death. He even thought about divorcing his wife to be free of these interrogations.

He was recruited to be a patrol guard in his village twice. There, they had to wear helmets, bulletproof vests, and hold a stick. They had to show up whenever the alarm rang in the shops or restaurants. The shop/cafe owners and workers also had to gather if an alarm rang. Each place had its own red button. Once, a drunk person pressed it, forcing everyone to show up "armed". They always told them to be on alert against the “evil forces”, though no one knew who they were.

Tursynbek had two acquaintances who were religious and used to never drink, but both of whom do now. Women also have to drink. If you refuse, they say that it's a national beverage, and that you have evil thoughts and need to be cured.

When he was called into the office to get his passport back, he saw 6 huge sacks full of passports there. They then made a video of his "happy daily life” before releasing him. His nephew signed a document as his guarantor. When Tursynbek went to see his [recently released] mother-in-law (https://shahit.biz/eng/viewentry.php?entryno=278), there were two people [police and/or civil workers] at her house.

He returned to Kazakhstan on February 2, 2019.


Mention in the Globe and Mail (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-i-felt-like-a-slave-inside-chinas-complex-system-of-incarceration/):

On Sept. 28, 2017, Chinese state security took Tursynbek Qabi, 45, to the basement of a prison facility and locked him in a cage that was too small for him to lie down. Accused of taking family members to Kazakhstan, he was kept there for six days, sleeping slumped against the bars on the side of the cell. “It was like an animal cage,” he said. Mr. Qabi was then released to a kind of town arrest − allowed to go home, but not allowed to travel elsewhere without permission. Local officials ordered everyone under the age of 50 to attend nightly Chinese language classes from 6 to 8 p.m., he said.


For others who have left China for Kazakhstan, concern remains for family members still in Xinjiang − some of whom have made themselves personally liable for those no longer in China. “My relatives signed documents as guarantors, saying when I am in Kazakhstan, I won’t say anything bad about China,” Mr. Qabi said.


Mention in Eurasianet (https://eurasianet.org/kazakhstan-after-xinjiang-the-long-road-to-recovery):

When Tursynbek Kabiuly arrived in Kazakhstan in February following a 17-month absence enforced by Chinese authorities, he could see the joy on his wife Oralkhan’s face.

But unless she spoke loudly, he could hardly hear her.

Kabiuly, an ethnic Kazakh who hails from Emin county in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, says he owes the burst eardrum in his right ear to a guard in the police detention center where he was held arbitrarily for six days last year with minimal food and water.

During a trip to a restroom, Kabiuly resorted to slurping from a tap in order to quench his thirst. The guard waiting for him outside lost his temper and struck Kabiuly around the head so hard that his ear bled from the pain.

“If I had complained to his superiors about it, my situation would have gotten much worse, very quickly,” Kabiuly told Eurasianet.


The $500 hearing aid that the crowdsourcing project purchased for Kabiuly is one of the more expensive outlays from the funding drive that raised $6,000 and has now entered a second round. At least one other former detainee that reported similar blows to the head in incarceration had hearing loss that could not be treated.

“It’s like a gift from God,” Kabiuly said of the earpiece. “I feel I am getting back to myself again.”

Kabiuly’s Xinjiang nightmare began in September 2017 after he travelled from Kazakhstan, where he had filed papers for citizenship, to Emin to attend a relative’s funeral.


Whilst in Xinjiang, Kabiuly witnessed a broad cross-section of the horrors that the Chinese state has inflicted on non-Han citizens in its bid to reshape life there.

Although he was never a resident of one of the now-notorious internment camps, his mother-in-law was.

As Oralkhan and her children petitioned for Kabiuly’s release from China and her mother's release from the camp, Kabiuly and his brother-in-law were confronted with constant surveillance and regular check-ups from authorities.

Under this pressure, Oralkhan’s brother committed suicide, months before their mother was released from the camp.

Kabiuly sent a message to Oralkhan, informing her of his intent to divorce her – a message she instantly dismissed as sent under duress.

At one point during this campaign of intimidation, Kabiuly told Eurasianet that Emin authorities forced him to deface several family tombstones.

Kabiuly was given no official reason for his brief but harrowing detention last September.

But it was his links to Kazakhstan – China’s closest economic partner in Central Asia – that were the subject of consecutive interrogations.

“They told me that Kazakhstan was on a list of countries with terrorism. But I think it is China that is the terrorist country. How can a government that treats citizens like livestock talk about terrorism?” he asked.


Kabiuly says his main priority after restoring his hearing is rebuilding muscle mass so he can get the type of construction jobs that he landed before a costly and physically draining stint in Xinjiang.

But Oralkhan told Eurasianet her husband is now more withdrawn than the man who went to Xinjiang in 2017, and that he was prone to hiding mobile telephones in far corners of the house when guests arrived, fearing Chinese eavesdropping.

“We have had some strange calls to the house, and I am worried for our children," Kabiuly explained.

"I am getting better with the phones now,” he said smiling as he eyed a smartphone on the table.


Coverage in Apple Daily: https://uat-xinjiangcamps.appledaily.com/%E5%8F%97%E5%AE%B3%E8%80%85/%E5%90%90%E7%88%BE%E9%81%9C%E5%88%A5%E5%85%8B-%E5%93%88%E6%AF%94/%E5%85%A8%E6%96%87

Supplementary materials

Testimony 1
Testimony 2
Testimony 3
Testimony 4
Testimony 5
Testimony 6
Testimony 7
Testimony 8
Testimony 9
Testimony 10
Testimony 11
Testimony 12
Testimony 13
photo with wife after return

Entry created: 2018-10-31

Last updated: 2019-10-19

Latest update from testifier: 2019-09-12