In 2020, Xinjiang police began to send Aksu text messages via WeChat and WhatsApp. They forced him to cooperate and threatened his family. Aksu never responded, so the message came from more phone numbers with different country codes, not only for mainland China, but also for Hong Kong and Turkey.
In September, Aksu received a call from an old friend who was a high school classmate who lived with him on bunk beds in the dormitory for four years. This friend is now a policeman and is polite. He recalled the memory of the past and thanked Aksu for the number of times he helped him. But obviously, the purpose of this call is not friendly. “He wants me to give him information,” Aksu said.
In fact, Aksu is trying to put things together. Although DC represented a positive change, he still felt pain for his family and was “tortured” by the death of his brother. The telephone is the last straw. “I feel betrayed,” Aksu said. “I was crying. I was saying,’How can this happen to me, how can anyone do that?'”
Later that day, he passed out. The next morning, he woke up on the floor and a colleague knocked on his door. Aksu missed a meeting and colleagues were worried. Aksu found that his anxiety had returned. The same is true for the long and sober night. A few days later, he passed out again. “Then, one day, I had this stupid suicidal idea.”
“I’m worried,” Aksu said. “For example,’Gosh, why should I think about this?'”
He confided to a colleague who confided to their boss, Louisa Greve. Grave, the global advocacy director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, took Aksu to a popular Uyghur restaurant near Cleveland Park in the area. While eating spicy noodles, he comforted him and suggested that he seek psychological counseling.
Of course, Aksu has been here before. He was unwilling to try treatment again, but allowed himself to be persuaded. Grave introduced him to Charles Bates, a psychologist in Northern Virginia, who was a volunteer for the Uyghur Health Initiative.