I recently had the privilege of speaking to Rahima Mahmut, a remarkable Uighur human rights campaigner living in London. She told me that she had always been close to her family still living in China, but that over time they became terrified of even answering her telephone calls for fear of what it might mean for them. They stopped using traditional Islamic greetings, which are forbidden, and eventually stopped answering her calls altogether. She persisted, until one day, her brother answered the phone and with a tremble in his voice, he implored her: “Leave us in God’s hands and we will leave you in God’s hands, too.”
It is now nearly four years since Rahima heard those chilling parting words. She has no way of knowing what has become of her family and she lives in constant fear of what they might be enduring.