Xinjiang is home to millions of members of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority. They are considered a Turkic ethnic group and their language predominantly Uyghur is part of the Turkic language family. Teacher Sayragul Sauytbay told Haaretz of her experience in one of the camps.
She explained: “At the end of 2016, the police began arresting people at night, secretly.
“It was a socially and politically uncertain period. Cameras appeared in every public space; the security forces stepped up their presence. At one stage, DNA samples were taken from all members of minorities in the region and our telephone SIM cards were taken from us.”
“One day, we were invited to a meeting of senior civil servants. There were perhaps 180 people there, employees in hospitals and schools. Police officers, reading from a document, announced that reeducation centres for the population were going to open soon, in order to stabilise the situation in the region.”
Ms Sauytbay has successfully claimed asylum in Sweden.
Barbed war in front of a Xinjiang housing compound (Image: GETTY)
Two Uyghur women walk past armed police (Image: GETTY)
Beijing launched a tough policy in the region following suicide attacks attributed to separatists between 2014 and 2016.
She explained: “In January 2017, they started to take people who had relatives abroad.”
The 43-year-old is of Kazakh descent and planned to move to the nation, but she had her passport confiscated, though her husband and two daughters reached Kazakhstan.
She explained: “They came to my house at night, put a black sack on my head and brought me to a place that looked like a jail. I was interrogated by police officers, who wanted to know where my husband and children were, and why they had gone to Kazakhstan.
READ MORE: China fury: Beijing lashes out at US over Hong Kong 'interference
Protestors clash with security forces in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital (Image: GETTY)
“At the end of the interrogation I was ordered to tell my husband to come home, and I was forbidden to talk about the interrogation.
“In November 2017, I was ordered to report to an address in the city’s suburbs, to leave a message at a phone number I had been given and to wait for the police.”
Ms Sauytbay claims she was then