Screengrab of video that shows Aishe, second from left, following along with her classmates in a classroom in an unknown location in Western China's Xinjiang region.
UIGHUR PARENTS SAY CHINA IS RIPPING THEIR CHILDREN AWAY AND BRAINWASHING THEM
  • Tue, 07/02/2019 - 21:58

By Nicole Bozorgmir and Isobel Yeung Jul 1, 2019

ISTANBUL — Qelbinur never dreamed that the last link she’d have to her 6-year-old daughter would be a short video on WhatsApp.

When she fled her home in northwest China’s Xinjiang region in 2016, she expected her husband would follow with their children to safety in Turkey. As Uighurs, a large Muslim Turkic minority who have lived in Xinjiang for centuries, they faced constant surveillance, the possibility of arrest, and harassment from the state.

Three years later, Qelbinur is still in Turkey, her husband’s been disappeared to one of China’s secretive “re-education” camps, and the whereabouts of her five children are unknown.

In the last few years, China has effectively closed off Xinjiang from the outside world as the government accelerates its crackdown on Uighurs.

Beijing says it’s trying to combat terrorism by targeting Islamic extremism and “separatism.” The reality, however, is nothing short of an Orwellian nightmare: Uighurs are subjected to near-total surveillance, with cameras watching their every move and police waiting to detain them for even the slightest sign of dissent. At least 1 million people in Xinjiang are currently detained in what the U.N. called a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.” Even less is known about their children.

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