When Yashar Yalkun answered a call from an unknown number the voice on the other end of line caused his heart to soar: it was his mother in Xinjiang, back in China.
He had not heard from her for three years and the 29-year-old Uighur rights advocate, who has been given asylum in Belgium, had had no idea whether she was alive or dead. Yet the call was a set up by the security services; minutes later the conversation ended with his mother sobbing down the phone after pleading with him to cease his work as an activist.
“She couldn’t stop crying,” he told The Times. “Whether through her fear of the Chinese authorities monitoring the call, or my words that were hurting