“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

Alim Sulayman

阿力木 · 苏来曼

Assumed Location


Suspected Reasons for Arrest or Detention

Studying abroad

Official Reason for Arrest or Detention


Last Contact

June 2016

Alim, a Uyghur dentist, was taken away from his home in June 2016 and spent a short period of time in an internment camp before being sentenced to 17 years in prison. He was supposed to get married in June 2016, but two weeks before the wedding his dreams were shattered. The reasons behind Alim’s detention are unclear, but his brother, now based in the USA, believes that Alim is in detention solely because he had lived in Turkey from May 2014 to early 2015. Alim moved to Turkey to study Turkish, but homesickness made him return to Xinjiang. His brother warned him not to go back, but Alim was confident that nothing could happen to him back in Xinjiang because he had not done anything wrong or committed any crime. Alim’s brother has now lost contact with his family members still in Xinjiang, and he does not know whether or not Alim has access to a lawyer of his choice and can speak with his family.

Personal Details

Alim was planning his wedding when he was taken away and brought to prison. Alim is a dentist, but before practicing dentistry, he went to art school. He loves drawing and writing poems.

Alim’s brother ended the interview recalling his strong connection with Alim and regretting they couldn’t see each other and spend time together anymore. He said: “I spent the longest time with him as we worked together, we saw each other every day, we had lunch together, sometimes dinner together, we have very close ties, he is like my brother, my son. He was my student, my colleague, my friend.”

Date of Birth

6 January 1987




Xayar (Shayar), Aksu prefecture



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