“Like we were enemies in a war”

China’s Mass Internment, Torture and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang

“Like we were enemies in a war” China’s Mass Internment, Torture and Persecution of Muslims in Xinjiang

Illustrations by Molly Crabapple

Saule Meltai

萨吾列 · 米勒太

Assumed Location

Internment camp, Qinghe County

Suspected Reasons for Arrest or Detention

Travelling abroad, preservation of Uyghur culture, not drinking alcohol

Official Reason for Arrest or Detention

“Potentially affecting other people who are currently at a stable condition”

Last Contact


Saule’s husband, now in Kazakhstan, told Amnesty International that Saule was detained for investigation on 11 January 2018 for “being classified as belonging to other untrustworthy persons who may influence stability” by the Qinggil County Party Committee, according to a screenshot of the notice of detention and investigation. Later, she was taken to an internment camp where she spent around nine months. In May 2018, Saule fell while taking a shower in the camp. Her lower body was seriously injured, and she was forced to remain in bed for four months without receiving any medical treatment. She was sent to class every day in a wheelchair. In September 2018, Saule became very ill and was sent to the People’s Hospital of Xinjiang for emergency surgery. At the hospital, she continued to “study” under tight surveillance. Apart from making trips to the hospital for medical treatment, the police have kept her under surveillance. In early 2021, Saule’s family received a phone call from the Qinggil People’s Procuratorate warning them not to campaign publicly for Saule’s release, otherwise they will never see her again. Her husband and family members in China are unable to make contact with her and do not know where she is.

Personal Details

Saule likes dancing, driving, eating and nice clothes. She has a kind heart and cares about family and older people. It was her dream to move to Kazakhstan to be reunited with her family.

Date of Birth

28 November 1972




Qinghe Zhen, Qinggil County, Altay Prefecture



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