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'We can find you' - Kiwi Uyghur Muslim says he received threats from China's police state

A Uyghur Muslim man who fled China to New Zealand says he has received threats from China's police state.

A satellite image of a suspected "re-education camp" in the Xinjiang province at Dabancheng. Source: Google Maps/CNES/Airbus

Since 2017, the Communist party in China has been carrying out a mass campaign against Muslim Uyghur citizens in the Xinjiang Province by rounding up, detaining and forcibly indoctrinating them and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in the far-western region, according to ABC Australia.

They're being held in so-called "re-education camps", where human rights groups allege detainees are subjected to political indoctrination, ill treatment and sometimes torture.

Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, but has since acknowledged they do exist, with the purpose of combatting terrorism and giving vocational training to the Uyghur people.

A 2018 BBC expose used satellite imagery analysis to claim that hundred of thousands of Uyghurs are now interned in the camps.

Shawudun Abdughupur, 43, left Xinjiang in 2009 after riots which left hundreds dead, and is now a New Zealand citizen.

Speaking with AFP in his first-ever public interview, Mr Abdughupur said he now lives in fear.

His mother, 78, is still in Xinjiang, and Mr Abdughupur believes she may be in one of the camps.

He told AFP that his mother had pressed him for information about other Uighurs in New Zealand during conversations, and said he believes "someone pushed her to ask".

After refusing to reveal any details, Mr Abdughupur says he received threats, reportedly saying: "We can find you. We are in New Zealand."

He says he reported the incident to police, but that they told him to contact Netsafe, who then referred him back to police.

"I don't know if the New Zealand Government can protect me," Mr Abdughupur said.

"How can they protect me?"

New Zealand police told AFP that they would not discuss the case for privacy reasons.