In Urumqi, the capital of the region, one former mosque had simply been reduced to a patch of bare ground. In one instance, Telegraph reporters were assaulted by 30 men in plain clothes, who hit the journalists in the face, grabbed their necks and confiscated camera equipment in an attempt to prevent them from accessing Imam Musa Kazim, a mosque and major shrine in Hotan.
Mandatory mobile apps – designed by local governments and justified as coronavirus contact tracing – require Chinese to register travel history and detailed personal information, including their ethnicity, yet another way to track movements. The programs were unable to register foreigners with passport numbers - a reason police at checkpoints barred Teleegraph journalists from certain areas.
The long-term goal of China’s campaign seems to be to disrupt Uyghur identity, culture and heritage to force assimilation rather than risk any challenge to its rule.
One of the biggest impacts of the crackdown is how families and communities have been torn apart. Fathers, uncles, sisters and daughters have been thrown in detention, while children are instructed to inform on their parents, a chilling parallel to a Uyghur translation of George Orwell’s 1984 I saw in a state-run bookstore.