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The Chief Witness Reviews

The Chief Witness by Sayragul Sauytbay, Alexandra Cavelius, Caroline Waight

The Chief Witness: escape from China's modern-day concentration camps

Sayragul Sauytbay, Alexandra Cavelius, Caroline Waight

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: Scribe Publications
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Publication date: 6 May 2021
ISBN: 9781913348601

A shocking depiction of one of the world's most ruthless regimes - and the story of one woman's fight to survive. I will never forget the camp.

4 stars out of 5
16 May 2021

"This is a remarkable first-hand account of life inside a secret and brutal regime"

Facts about what is going on in Xinjiang are notoriously hard to pin down. Over decades reporting for The Sunday Times, I watched armoured vehicles deploy in one city, counted the fresh graves in another, heard accounts of a massacre in a third and was told of young men executed for helping a British television crew. It is only through accounts such as this one — which is, of course, vehemently denied by China — that the world can sift the evidence for itself.


4 stars out of 5
Edward Lucas
7 May 2021

"A nightmarish account of repression "

These caveats aside, the book is still an extraordinary testament to Sauytbay’s bravery. The horrors she experienced are largely corroborated by other witnesses, such as Anar Sabit, another ethnic Kazakh who unwisely returned home after living abroad. Her similar ordeal in the camps was published in The New Yorker last month.