China is forcing some residents of Xinjiang Province to take concoctions of traditional Chinese medicine to treat coronavirus, even though the medicines are not scientifically proven to be effective against the illness, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Xinjiang has been under lockdown for 45 days following the appearance of over 800 cases of coronavirus. However, lockdown measures in the province have been far more draconian than elsewhere in China, with some residents forced to drink traditional medicine, others locked inside their homes and made to quarantine for more than 40 days. The medicine, which is being distributed throughout Xinjiang in white bottles, is made of unknown compounds.
The measures apply to Uighur and Han Chinese residents alike.
“Why are you forcing us to drink medicine when we’re not sick!” a Han woman posted online on August 18. “Who will take responsibility if there’s problems after drinking so much medicine? Why don’t we even have the right to protect our own health?”
A Han businessman told the AP that he has been in quarantine since mid-July, despite testing negative for coronavirus five times. Authorities have not let the man outside for so much as a walk.
“I’ve been in this room for so long, I don’t remember how long. I just want to forget,” he wrote on Chinese social media app Weibo earlier this month. “I’m writing out my feelings to reassure myself I still exist. I fear I’ll be forgotten by the world.”
Uighur residents have said they are forced to take the traditional Chinese medicine on threat of arrest and detention in one of Xinjiang’s many “reeducation” camps. As for Uighurs who are detained, one woman told the AP that she was placed in a cell with dozens of other Uighurs, and forced to strip naked once a week while guards hosed them down with disinfectant.
“It was scalding,” the woman said. “My hands were ruined, my skin was peeling.”
Over the past several years, China has detained over one million Uighur and other Muslim residents of Xinjiang in the camps, attempting to erase detainees’ religious identity and instill loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. Numerous reports of torture, rape, and other atrocities have emerged from the camps.