A manga depicting the plight of a Uighur woman who was detained and tortured in China has racked up millions of views and spawned versions in several languages.
The popularity of What Has Happened to Me by the Japanese manga artist Tomomi Shimizu coincides with rising global anger over China’s treatment of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority based in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region.
Media organizations this week revealed that China is holding more than 1 million people from the Uighur community and other Muslim minorities without trial.
Classified documents leaked from within the Chinese Communist Party appear to provide the first official confirmation that the camps were designed by Beijing as brainwashing internment centers and not, as Chinese authorities have claimed, vocational education and training centers.
Shimizu’s short manga, which has been translated into English, Chinese, Uighur and other languages, tells the story of Mihrigul Tursun, a Uighur woman who was detained three times by Chinese authorities on returning from Egypt.
The account includes Tursun’s time living in Egypt, where she gave birth to triplets, and her accounts of being tortured and detained in China on three separate occasions between 2015 and 2017.
Tursun said that she was deprived of sleep in an overcrowded cell that was lit day and night, tied to a chair, and repeatedly tortured.
She said that her eldest son died in mysterious circumstances at an Urumqi hospital while she was in custody.
She lost contact with her husband, whom she believes had returned from Egypt to China to look for her and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.
She now lives in the US with her surviving son and daughter.
Shimizu’s manga has attracted about 2.5 million views and has been shared more than 86,000 times since it appeared on Twitter in August, Kyodo news agency reported.
Shimizu first learned about the plight of Muslim minorities in China from members of Japan’s small Uighur community and released her first manga on the subject titled No One Says the Country’s Name in April.
“Despite [China] being a neighboring country, it is full of things that are unknown. Telling people about them through manga is my mission,” Shimizu told Kyodo.
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