By ROB SCHMITZ
By the time Chinese guards began torturing Kayrat Samarkand inside a re-education camp last spring, he says his life had prepared him for this.
The ethnic Kazakh grew up in the mountains of China’s rural Xinjiang region, just miles away from the border with Kazakhstan. When he was 11 years old, his parents died. A man from his village lured the young orphan to a nearby city with the promise of work and then sold him to a criminal gang of ethnic Uighurs, the predominant ethnic minority in Xinjiang, who managed a network of child thieves throughout China.
“There were a lot of other children who had been kidnapped,” Samarkand recalls. “Most of the others were trained to be pickpockets. They wanted me to be a beggar, so they injected me with medication that made my legs go numb. They held me down and broke both of my legs.”