China is blasting CNN for reporting on an Uyghur woman who allegedly witnessed the deaths of nine detainees in a “re-education center,” including her own son, at a hospital in Urumqi, Xinjiang region — the center of an ongoing crackdown on the ethnic minority.
In the report first published over the weekend, the woman, identified as Mihrigul Tursun, claimed that authorities detained her and took her eight-week-old triplets just after they arrived from Egypt in March 2015.
Tursun allegedly spent the next three months in a “re-education center,” where she was placed in a cell with more than 50 other women.
She claimed that she had witnessed nine deaths at the center due to hostile conditions — including a 62-year-old woman who did not wake up and a 23-year-old mother who suffered from excessive menstrual bleeding.
After three months, Tursun was released from the center only to find out that one of her triplets, Mohaned, died at Urumqi Children’s Hospital.
She then learned that all her babies were hospitalized and that Mohaned had passed away after an operation — but whatever caused all these remains unknown.
In a statement on Monday, spokeswoman Hua Chunying of the Chinese foreign ministry dismissed CNN’s story as “totally fake,” adding that “authenticity is vital to the reporting of news,” the South China Morning Post reported.
According to Hua, Tursun was detained for 20 days in 2017 for “inciting ethnic hatred and discrimination,” but other than that, she had the freedom to travel outside China.
Tursun has “never [been] detained by the Urumqi police … She has never been in prison and has never been trained in any skills education and training center,” said Hua. “CNN obviously was not willing to wait for our verification and has just published the story on the weekend.”
Responding to the ministry’s comments, CNN maintained the accuracy of its reporting, adding that Tursun’s statements match her testimony to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission in November 2018.
The network added that it had “reached out to multiple government agencies for comment” ahead of publication, including the Foreign Ministry, but received no response.
“We have updated the story on both TV and digital platforms with the ministry’s comment. CNN stands by its reporting,” the network said. “CNN had submitted several requests for comment ahead of our report airing on TV and digital.”