In 2020, Xinjiang police began sending text messages from Aksu via WeChat and WhatsApp. They pressured him to cooperate and threatened his family. Aksu never answered, so messages arrived from more phone numbers, with various country codes, not only for mainland China but also for Hong Kong and Turkey.
In September, Aksu got a call from an old friend, a high school classmate with whom he had shared a bunk bed in a dormitory for four years. The friend, now a police officer, was polite. He remembered the old memories and thanked EXO for the times he helped him. But it was clear that the purpose of the call was not friendly. “He wanted me to give him information,” Aksu says.
As it were, Aksu was struggling to hold things together. Although DC represents a positive change, he still endured his family’s pain and kept being “tortured” by his brother’s death. The phone call was the last straw. “I felt betrayed,” Aksu says. “I cried. I was saying, ‘How could this happen to me, how could someone do that?”
Later that day, he lost consciousness. He woke up the next morning on the floor to a colleague knocking on his door. Aksu has missed a meeting and co-workers are worried. Aksu found that his anxiety returned in force. So were the long waking nights. After a few days, he lost consciousness again. “Then, one day, I had this stupid idea of suicide.”
“I was very worried,” Aksu says. Like, ‘Oh my God, why am I thinking about this?’ “
Captivated in a colleague, who captured their boss, Louisa Greve. Griff, global advocacy director for the Uyghur Human Rights Project, took Aksu to a popular Uyghur restaurant in the area’s Cleveland Park neighborhood. While eating spicy noodles, I gifted him and suggested he ask for advice.
Exo has been here before, of course. He was reluctant to try treatment again, but allowed himself to be convinced. Gref introduced him to Charles Bates, a Northern Virginia psychologist who volunteered with the Uyghur Wellness Initiative.