Rawalpindi, Pakistan – On a cold winter evening, Mohammad Hassan Abdul Hameed, 34, walks towards his restaurant, past silk stores in the busy China Market in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
He, like many others here, belongs to the persecuted Uighur community from the Xinjiang province ofChina.
Abdul Hameed’s father arrived in Rawalpindi 50 years ago to work in a pilgrims’ guesthouse intended for Uighurs heading to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj.
Today, the guesthouse sits abandoned in the market, not far from Abdul Hameed’s restaurant.
According to members of the community, it was closed down at the request of China in 2006.
Uighurs have been migrating to Pakistan since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, some to work as traders and others escaping communist persecution.
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Today, China’s brutal crackdown on the community has made headlines around the world as up to three million Uighurs are believed to be held in so-called “re-education camps” where they are made to renounce Islam.