‘Like a bad nightmare’ — Uyghurs in Turkey recount horrors

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‘Like a bad nightmare’ — Uyghurs in Turkey recount horrors

The Uyghurs who have fled persecution in China are delighted to have escaped, but fearful for the families left behind

Murad, seven, left China with his mother, who did not want to be identified (Photo: WJR)
Murad, seven, left China with his mother, who did not want to be identified (Photo: WJR)

Tursanay is one of the few people who can tell the story of China’s “re-education” centres, where Uyghurs are endure surveillance, repression and even brainwashing.

She escaped to Turkey where life is now a desperate daily struggle to survive — alone.

The monthly food parcels she receives from WJR’s local partner make her feel very happy, she says: “It is a very basic need, the need for nutrition, but under my current circumstances I couldn’t even meet it.”

Like many Uyghurs living in Turkey, Tursanay did not want to have her photograph published over her fears for her safety.

The same view was voiced by the mother of Murad, 7, who fled China together, leaving behind an elder son and her husband. She has not heard from him for months.

“At least I know that my Murad is safe, but what about my husband and son? Not a day goes by when I do not think of them,” she said.

“They took my husband and my 15-year-old son to the camp. I cannot speak to them. People say they have been subjected to very heavy torture there, and that makes me very sad.”

Another woman — a 35-year-old identifiable only by her initials MT — left with her two small children, but has a whole family she left behind in China.

A young Uyghur girl at a food parcel distribution point in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city (Photo: WJR)

She said: “Looking back, the process I went through to get here is unbelievable. It still feels like a bad nightmare sometimes. I wish what happened to me was not true, but when I think about where I am today, the fact I have the two things I care most about in my life keeps me alive. My two little boys are alive and by my side. Thank God for that.”

“The food packages provided are very important for Uyghurs here, since we depend on your help. Thank you so much for thinking of us and our children. You will be in our prayers.”

Donations to the WJR Uyghur Refugee Urgent Appeal can be made at www.worldjewishrelief.org/uyghur

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