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‘They Want to Erase Us’: Uighurs in SoCal Fear for Family Members Facing Persecution in China

Bughra Arkin believes his father, who lives in Xinjiang, China, was arrested and placed in a reeducation camp. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Bughra Arkin believes his father, who lives in Xinjiang, China, was arrested and placed in a reeducation camp. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Eyes cast toward the tile floor of his Uighur restaurant in Alhambra, Bughra Arkin sighed and rubbed his temples. His thoughts shifted to his family in Xinjiang, China, to the father he knew had been arrested by authorities and possibly placed in a “reeducation” camp nearly 7,000 miles away.

Arkin knew something was wrong late last year. The two usually spoke every day, but the calls and messages had stopped. Days went by with no contact with his dad. Then a month.

“I was devastated. I was totally frustrated. I didn’t know what to do,” said the 28-year-old, who hasn’t spoken with his father in nearly nine months.

He is among a growing number of Uighurs in the United States who have had family members detained by authorities in northwest China, swept up in a large-scale social engineering campaign aimed at replacing the Uighur identity with a secular Chinese one. Decades of clashes between the region’s Turkic, predominantly Muslim people and the ruling Communist party have sparked a series of violent uprisings that the Chinese government has responded to with a crackdown and the creation of a surveillance state.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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