The reasons for the imprisonment of the Uyghur residents are not known. The guard also said that the government has provided aid to the families of the prisoners, including food, clothing and coal — 30 tons of which had recently been distributed to at least 100 households. “The government has been taking care of them,” he said. Sheyih Mehelle has a population of more than 700 people, the security guard said. It is part of Cholunqay village, which has more than 10,000 residents.
A Uyghur living in exile who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the Chinese government said it is not surprising that 14 percent of a Uyghur hamlet’s population is in prison.