“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

Mahire Nurmuhammad

玛依拉 · 努尔买买提

Assumed Location

Unofficial detention facility between Artux and Kashgar

Suspected Reasons for Arrest or Detention

Transfer of money to son abroad

Official Reason for Arrest or Detention

“Supporting terrorism”

Last Contact

November 2018

Mahire was arrested in November 2018 and received a sentence of 16 years and half in prison. According to her sister, now in Turkey, Mahire has been accused of “supporting terrorism” solely because in 2015 she sent money to her son who at that time was studying in Egypt. The last time the two sisters spoke was in October 2018 over a video call. In the summer of 2021, Mahire’s sister managed to re-establish contact with her family in Xinjiang and that was when she found out about the detention and sentence of her sister. Before being arrested, Mahire was interrogated by the police several times. In October 2018, the police told her that they would arrest her as soon as she could stop breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter. She was arrested the following month. Her sister told Amnesty International that Mahire is allowed to call her family in Xinjiang on average once every two months and is currently held in an unofficial detention facility between Artux and Kashgar.

Personal Details

Mahire is married and has a daughter and two sons, one of whom now lives in Turkey. She is a 41-year-old retired government official who was forced to leave her job due to her poor health. She suffers from a heart condition and mental health issues. Mahire’s sister is worried that Mahire may not have access to adequate medication while in detention. Mahire is described by her sister as a quiet and helpful person who cares about others in her community, and is always mindful of restrictions and policies imposed by the Chinese authorities.

Date of Birth

14 February 1981






Retired government official

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