Uighur children fall victim to China anti-terror drive

Uighur children fall victim to China anti-terror drive

Thousands in Xinjiang placed in de facto orphanages after parents detained

On a quiet street in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, a house lies empty, padlocked from the outside, the family who lived there gone.

The father was detained in February; three months later the mother was also taken away by authorities. They had allegedly shared extremist Islamist content on their mobile phones, family friends said.

Despite protests from relatives, two of their children, aged 18 and 15, were then detained and their younger two, aged seven and nine, were sent to a state welfare centre. “The grandfather even wept, but the authorities would not let him keep his grandchildren,” recalled an acquaintance.

The family had fallen foul of an anti-terror drive conducted by Beijing, which has forcibly separated families, sending thousands of children to de facto orphanages, according to Uighurs interviewed in China and abroad by the Financial Times.

Since the annexation of Xinjiang in 1950, Beijing has had a troubled relationship with the Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic ethnic group.