by M.H Uyghur
9.March 2018, Hyvinkää, Finland
I am Halmurat, a Uyghur living in Finland. 2017 was the saddest year for my family. The troubles began in late 2016 when Chinese government pressured my male cousin Adil return to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region from Egypt. Local authorities threatened to imprison his parents and confiscate their property in if Adil did not return. He, his wife and their two son went back to Xinjiang, the authorities jailed him and his wife. I have no further information about Adil and his wife. Nobody willing to talk about it, we had keep this in silent, because we afraid it will cause more problem to our relatives, who are living in Uyghur region.
Then, in early summer 2017, I tried to call my mother, she was recovering from recent hospitalization. No one picked up, I feared for the worst. Communication with my parents was already sporadic, thank God my father finally picked up the phone, but I could sense fear in his voice. He told me “your mother went to study”, saying that community service officials had instructed her to go, study Mandarin and patriotism education. But she already mastered Mandarin, she went to university in Beijing.
Lost contact with my mother made me anxious, right before her disappearance, she was recovering from hysterectomy and chemotherapy. My suspicion is getting bigger, I still afraid the worse. I began to call relatives in Xinjiang, only to find they were too afraid to speak to me. They don’t answer me, or they hear my voice and don’t talk and cut the connection.
Sending coded messages to a cousin outside of Xinjiang, I learned that my mother had really been placed in a re-education camp. He also told me that the Chinese government had recently recalled my father’s cousins son from Turkey, when he arrived to Xinjiang, the authority jailed him, he die under mysterious circumstances in a prison.
Then, in January 2018, from a relative at abroad, I learned we lost grandmother. I tried to call my father, no one picked up. I lost contact with father. Neighbors reported that he, too, was in re-education.
In 2017, Chinese authorities initiated a network of ‘re-education’ camps targeting a number of categories of ‘suspicious’ Uyghurs for political indoctrination. This includes:
·“People who throw away their mobile phone’s SIM card or did not use their mobile phone after registering it
·Former prisoners already released from prison
·‘Suspicious people’ who have some fundamental religious sentiment
·People who have relatives abroad
·People who have travelled abroad for any reason
·Government employees with religious sentiments or who have expressed sympathy for other Uyghurs
Based on media reports, the estimated number of Uyghurs detained in the camps stands around one million in April 2018 in facilities in Turpan, Hotan, Korla, Ghulja, Kashgar, Urumqi, Aksu, Karamay, Altay and across the region.
I therefore urge that all the righteous people:
1. Call on the Chinese government to release my parents and all other Uyghurs held in arbitrary detention or who have been detained without being charged
2. Through demonstrations and other means to show support to Uyghur people, pray for them.
3. Spread the information, promote awareness about Uyghurs and their tragedy.
4. Send petitions to their government to urge China to immediately cease its retrictions of freedom of expression and permit the Uyghur people to communicate with their relatives abroad, without the threat of arbitrary detention or other forms of reprisals.