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Two Uyghur Children Describe What Life Was Like In A Chinese Boarding School

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Two Uyghur Children Describe What Life Was Like In A Chinese Boarding School

Lutfulla Kuçar, 8, waits at home for his sister Aysu to return from school, in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. For years, Meryem Emet has been held in a Chinese ‘reeducation’ camp in China. Her family, including her husband and children, have lost all contact with her, and repeated attempts to get her released have so far been unsuccessful. The Chinese government has refused to divulge details on her whereabouts. Only a few years ago, the two youngest children of Abdullatif and Meryem were themselves in a reeducation camp but were released after Turkish authorities got involved (the children are Turkish citizens). Their story is one of thousands of Uyghur families’ struggle to free their loved ones from internment camps set up by the Chinese government in their brutal crackdown on the Uyghur minority group over the past several years. Rights groups and activists have called the mass roundup of Uyghurs in reeducation camps genocide.

Nicole Tung/Nicole Tung for NPR

China has been detaining and arresting ethnic Uyghurs in the region of Xinjiang en masse while their children are often sent to state boarding schools.

China closely guards information about Xinjiang, including about these forced family separations. But NPR’s Beijing correspondent Emily Feng managed to talk to two children who made it out of one such school and are sharing their story for the first time.

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