“We were a model family for the party. Now they are all in concentration camps” | International

Nursiman Abdureshid was born 33 years ago in Saybag, in the Chinese county of Konasheher. This piece of land on the western fringe of the Asian giant is inhabited by the Uyghur ethnic group, the majority in that region, which is called Xinjiang, but a minority in the rest of China, where the Han predominate. His father was a state official, a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), a respected man among the neighbors. Together with his wife, the mother of this young woman, they ran a business selling flour. The two male members of the family also soon went into business. A family, in short, a model for the communist regime. Today, the parents and siblings of Abdureshid are confined in detention or internment centers in Xinjiang.

The young woman received EL PAÍS in Istanbul (Turkey), her current place of residence, as part of the journalistic investigation The Xinjiang Police Files, carried out by 14 media outlets from 11 countries. Tens of thousands of mug shots, photos, and official documents from senior CCP officials put a face for the first time to Beijing’s extensive and brutal crackdown on the Uyghur Muslim minority.

Abdureshid traveled to Turkey in 2015. His other sister also left the region for the United States. Two years later, communication with his family in Saybag began to weaken to the point of being cut off. In the summer of 2017, in the midst of Beijing’s crackdown on re-education camps in Xinjiang, relatives told him that his father and his little brother had been transferred to “education programs.” His older brother was already in prison for an alleged unpaid debt. Three years later, in a telephone conversation with the Chinese Embassy in Turkey, Abdureshid learned that all of them, including his mother, were serving prison sentences.

“My family became a target [del Gobierno chino] simply because my sister and I were studying abroad,” says Abdureshid.

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