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Uighur parents from a few towns were pleading with their sons and daughters to return to China, but they wouldn’t say why.“The parents kept calling, crying on the phone,” the teacher said.

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Not his mother, who lives in a two-story house at the far end of a country road, alone behind walls bleached by the desert sun.While forced indoctrination has been reported throughout Xinjiang, its reach has been felt far beyond China’s borders.In April, calls began trickling into a Uighur teacher’s academy in Egypt, vague but insistent.But China’s government describes its Xinjiang security policy as a “strike hard” campaign that’s necessary following a series of attacks in 20, including a mass knifing in a train station that killed 33.A Hotan city propaganda official, Bao Changhui, told the AP: “If we don’t do this, it will be like several years ago — hundreds will die.”China also says the crackdown is only half the picture.An instructor touted their “gentle, attentive” teaching methods and likened the centers to a boarding school dorm.

But in Korla, the institutions appeared more daunting, at least from the outside.

And under an opaque system that treats practically all Uighurs as potential terror suspects, Uighurs who contact family abroad risk questioning or detention.

The campaign has been led by Chen Quanguo, a Chinese Communist Party official, who was promoted in 2016 to head Xinjiang after subduing another restive region — Tibet.

Along with the detention camps, unprecedented levels of police blanket Xinjiang’s streets.

Cutting-edge digital surveillance systems track where Uighurs go, what they read, who they talk to and what they say.

And Egypt, once a sanctuary for Uighurs to study Islam, began deporting scores of Uighurs to China. Many hid with Egyptian friends.“We were mice, and the police were cats,” said a student from Urumqi, Xinjiang’s regional capital.