For émigrés and exiles, pressure on families back home, social media intimidation, even kidnapping, have become a regular part of life.
Tahir Imin knew that romances sometimes end. So he did not expect the long arm of global authoritarianism when the woman he had been planning to marry broke things off in March.
He had fled China’s oppression of Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim minority, in 2017. From his new home in Washington, D.C., he spoke out about Beijing’s indoctrination camps and systems of control, which he and the U.S. government have called a genocide.
Threatening messages flooded in, some from people identifying themselves as the Chinese police. He got word that his mother and brother were arrested on spurious charges, a common occurrence for family of Uyghur activists abroad.
But Mr. Imin persisted, starting a Uyghur rights organization. He fell in love with a Uyghur exile living in the United States. Just after she ended things, Chinese authorities accused Mr. Imin of aiding a separatist group.