‘An information black hole’: Exiled Muslim Uighurs fear for loved ones back home as China tightens its grip on XinjiangSeptember 02, 2018
“One year ago on his birthday, Murat Uyghur dialed the number to his parents’ phone in east Xinjiang from his home in Finland. No one answered, and he became increasingly worried. After several attempts to contact them, his father eventually picked up the phone.
“Your mother has gone to study,” he said in hushed tones. At 56 years old, it was an unusual move from his mother. She was fluent in Mandarin and had previously worked for the state-owned newspaper Turpan Daily. But in the heavily policed region of Xinjiang, known locally as East Turkistan, things aren’t always as they seem.
The phrase “gone to study” has become a euphemism for being taken away by Chinese police and not being heard of since.
Murat said that he emigrated to escape the crackdown in Xinjiang, but still routinely experiences panic attacks and bouts of insomnia: “I am powerless and don’t know what to do,” he said. “I do not know where my family is, have they passed away or not. If so, where are their bodies? It is like an information black hole.”