That was five years ago. He says he hasn't seen them since. Mamutjan's wife Muherrem took their daughter and son from Malaysia back to the region in western China to get a new passport in December 2015. They remain trapped there, he said, caught up in the sweeping government crackdown against Muslim minorities that has reportedly seen up to 2 million peoplearbitrarily detained in vast camps across Xinjiang.China has denied the allegations of human rights abuses in the region, saying the camps are necessary to prevent religious extremism and terrorism.
Mamutjan said his family, who are ethnically Uyghur, are unable to leave China, while he would be at risk of being detained or imprisoned if he returned. He is now living in Adelaide, Australia.
This week, a CNN team tracked down Mamutjan's 10-year-old daughter Muhlise at her paternal grandparents' home in the city of Kashgar, in southern Xinjiang. When asked if she has a message for her father, whom she hasn't spoken to since 2017, Muhlise began to cry. "I miss him," she said.