"The first thing they asked me was to take off my clothes… They put me in the cell with the drug addicts and with the killers and they beat me."

Abduweli Ayup, a Uighur, alleges he was raped and tortured while in detention in China for 15 months.

His is one of a growing number of stories recounted by Uighurs fleeing their homeland, as China faces increasing criticism of its treatment of the country's Muslim population.

Experts estimate one million people are being held in detention centres in China's Xinjiang region. The government denies the claims.

Authorities say "vocational training centres" are preventing "religious extremism", educating Uighurs on the country's language and laws and providing job training.

But more than a dozen Uighurs that 101 East spoke to, who eventually fled to Turkey, speak of being held against their will, beaten, tortured and starved.

Even outside the country, Uighur Muslims say their future is far from safe.

After vowing greater economic cooperation in 2018, Turkish officials recently pledged to safeguard China's security and not allow any criticism of the country on its soil.

Uighurs say the Chinese embassy has stopped renewing their passports. Without official documents, Uighurs tell Al Jazeera, they struggle to work and live in fear that they will be deported back to China.

101 East follows the Uighurs' quest for a safe place to call home.

Source: Al Jazeera