Friday, September 4 was one of the happiest days in recent memory for Mayila Yakufu and her family. That day, Yakufu, a 43-year-old ethnic Uyghur, had been freed from a Chinese detention camp and allowed to return home to her three teenage children and aunt and uncle in Xinjiang, western China. It was the first time she'd seen her family in more than 16 months.
The same night, Yakufu was even able to video call her cousin, Nyrola Elima, who lives in Sweden. "I didn't recognize her at the very beginning, because she looked so pale. She looked so weak and she had short hair," Elima said. "She was terrified, she didn't dare to speak too much with me."
Elima quickly passed on the news to Yakufu's parents and sister who live in Australia.
"I can't describe my feelings, how happy I was when I heard my sister had been released," said Marhaba Yakub Salay, Yakufu's sister. "At the time, I still remember my heart was going to explode."