RFA: Interview: ‘I Did Not Believe I Would Leave Prison in China Alive’

Mihrigul Tursun is a 29-year-old Uyghur woman from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) who gave birth to healthy triplets in Egypt while her husband was working there in 2015. Soon after her children were born, she returned to China seeking help from her parents to raise them, but was arrested by XUAR authorities upon arriving by plane in the regional capital Urumqi, and the triplets were taken from her. She was released on “parole” weeks later after learning that her children were suffering from a severe respiratory illness that required surgery, but one of her sons died under mysterious circumstances while being cared for in a local hospital.

In the years since the boy’s death, Tursun was taken into custody several times, including at one of a network of political “re-education camps,” where Chinese authorities began detaining Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in April 2017. Tursun said she was targeted because she had lived in Egypt—one of a number of countries blacklisted by authorities in the XUAR because of a perceived threat of religious radicalization.

While she was able to relocate to the U.S. in September, Tursun’s other son and daughter have developed health complications that require constant monitoring, and she has lost all contact with her husband and other family members. She recently spoke with RFA’s Uyghur Service about the struggle she endured during the three years she spent in the XUAR before fleeing China.


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