cover image How I Survived a Chinese “Reeducation” Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story

How I Survived a Chinese “Reeducation” Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story

Gulbahar Haitiwaji and Rozenn Morgat, trans. from the French by Edward Gauvin. Seven Stories, $26.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-64421-148-9

After being imprisoned for nearly three years, Haitiwaji, a member of the Uighur community, details in this rousing and courageous debut the brutal treatment she survived in one of China’s “reeducation” camps. Structured like a diary, her narrative begins in August 2016 at her daughter’s wedding in Paris, a celebration that’s tinged with sadness because those in attendance are living in exile, having left China after a crackdown against a growing movement for Uighur autonomy. A few months later, Haitiwaji was summoned to China, ostensibly to resolve a pension matter, and detained by government authorities. With her daughter accused of terrorism (she was seen holding a flag representing Uighur independence at a Paris protest), Haitiwaji was imprisoned, shackled to her bed for 20 days, and relentlessly interrogated. Her story grows more disturbing when she recalls the repeated violence and 11 hours of daily “education” she received over the next two years once she was sent to “school”: “this was brainwashing, whole days spent repeating the same idiot phrases.” Haitiwaji’s forthright descriptions of her harrowing experience at a modern-day concentration camp—before she was released in 2019 with the help of her daughter—offers a sobering look at the horrific ways genocide is still being enacted today. This urgent testimony will serve as a wake-up call to Western readers. (Feb.)