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Children lost to China's 'Muslim crackdown'
China’s “Muslim crackdown” reaches far beyond the borders of China. According to the U.N., one million Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. Former detainees told Reuters that they faced torture both physically and mentally. The daily indoctrination of communist ideology isn’t something just faced by adults, Uighur children are forcefully sent to orphanages, where they are brainwashed. "They don't have any freedom, they are severely restricted. They will be experiencing physical and psychological trauma. If my kids grow up in this kind of environment, what kind of people will they become?" says Meripet, a Uighur living in exile in Istanbul, Turkey. Meripet’s father was sick. She left behind four of her children with her mother-in-law and came to Istanbul to look after her father. However, both her children and her mother-in-law were taken away by the authorities, and it wasn’t until months later that she found out her children were put into an orphanage in Hotan. "Where are they, where are they sleeping? Where are they waking up and what are they doing, can they eat their food? If they are sick, what will happen to them? I think of these things every day," says Meripet. Many Uighurs living outside of China, like Meripet, have missing relatives. However, if they are to return to Xinjiang to search for their families, they themselves would be facing detainment. While some hold regular demonstrations in Turkey, others are still too afraid to tell their story, despite being miles apart from the borders of China.