On Aug 1, 2018, Bilal, a 27-year-old Uighur refugee, died in a Thai immigration detention facility, where he had been held since March 2014. Thai police and volunteers from a local NGO helped with funeral arrangements and Bilal was buried in an Islamic cemetery far from his family and homeland.
The Chinese government is receiving increased pressure over its archipelago of mass detention camps, holding approximately one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkestan).
There are credible reports, according to the United Nations, that a million or more Uighur Muslims are being held in what amount to internment camps in China. And now, increasingly, their families are speaking out.
HOTAN UNITY NEW VILLAGE, China (AP) — In this corner of China’s far west, rows of identical white concrete houses with red metal roofs rise abruptly above the sand dunes of the harsh Taklamakan Desert. A Chinese flag flutters above the settlement, and a billboard at the entrance says, “Welcome to the Hotan Unity New Village.”
Winter is coming, and farmers in this Uyghur village are busy cutting branches pruned from walnut trees for firewood. The wood is fuel for small metal stoves that heat their mud-and-brick homes.