“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

Muherrem Muhammed Tursun

木海热木 · 买提吐尔逊

Assumed Location

Internment camp or prison

Suspected Reasons for Arrest or Detention

Son studied abroad, ethnicity

Official Reason for Arrest or Detention


Last Contact

22 August 2021

Muherrem, a primary school teacher from Hotan, disappeared in August 2021, after posting a video on her WeChat profile about her family celebrating Eid. According to a trusted source still in Xinjiang, Muherrem was taken away by the Chinese authorities. Muherrem’s sister interviewed by Amnesty International and based in Turkey, doesn’t know whether Muherrem is now in an internment camp or a prison. Despite contacting the Chinese authorities in Turkey Muherrem’s sister has not received any official document nor update on Muherrem’s whereabouts. Muherrem’s sister believes that she has been detained due to her Uyghur ethnicity and the fact that her son went to Turkey to study religion before going back to Urumqi to study dentistry. He was taken away in early 2017 as soon as he got back from Turkey. The Chinese authorities also confiscated Muherrem’s apartments in Urumqi and Hotan. When her sister tried to find out more details, her relatives still in the region simply replied “don’t ask questions, they are gone.”

Personal Details

Muherrem has heart disease and because of this had to retire earlier. Her sister describes her as a really responsible person and a responsible teacher. “She is kind to her students, their parents, to her neighbours, and her friends. She is a modest and unique woman. When she was not working, at the end of each week, she used to spend her time with our parents and us. She used to help out with the housework. And we used to spend time at home as a family.”
Muherrem’s mother, Tacinisa Emin, is also in detention.

Date of Birth

27 December 1974






Primary school teacher

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