Australian Government- break the Silence on China’s Concentration Camps in East Turkistan

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An Emergency Call from East Turkistan Australian Association & Uyghurs in Australia

"I miss her so much: Australian man pleads for wife's release from Chinese prison.

High school sweethearts – both originally from China’s Xinjiang Uighur region dreamed of living together in Australia. However, their dream shattered when his newly pregnant wife, Bizainafu Abudourexit, was caught up in a Chinese crackdown on the Uighur Muslim minority group, detained without charge, and sentenced to seven years in jail with no legal support.

Nizamidin is now waging a lonely campaign as an Australian citizen to get his wife released from a Chinese women’s prison at a time when Australia is navigating a new relationship with China." Quoted from The Guardian.

This is just one example of Uyghur community stories in Australia hear every day nowadays. 

“I don’t know what to do. I am really scared.  I am so worried about my father, my mother and my young brother.  I don’t know where they are now.  I also don’t know if they are still alive or dead.” Quoted from Change. Currently, this is the usual conversation between Uyghur community members in Australia.

In 2017, Chinese authorities initiated a network of ‘re-education’ camps targeting a number of categories of ‘suspicious’ Uyghurs for political indoctrination. This includes but is not limited to:

  • People who throw away their mobile phone’s SIM card or did not use their mobile phone after registering it
  • Former prisoners released from prison
  • ‘Blacklisted’ people
  • ‘Suspicious people’ who have some fundamental religious sentiments 
  • 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, an estimated number of Uyghurs detained in the camps stands around one million in April 2018 across the region.

Reports from Radio Free Asia have revealed the extensive nature of arbitrary detention through ‘re-education’ camps. A December 14, 2017 article disclosed how authorities were holding nearly ten percent of residents in Kona Sheher Township in the camps. Two reports published in January 2018 detailed the overcrowded conditions in camps located in Korla and Hotan. A January 18, 2018 report described how overcrowding at a camp in Korla was causing health problems among inmates. According to sources cited by Radio Free Asia in a January 22, 2018 article as many as 120,000 Uyghurs are being held in camps in the Kashgar region alone.

Two returnees, Abdusalam Mamat and Yasinjan, died in December 2017 under uncertain circumstances during their time in the camps. In January 2018, Muhammed Salih Hajim, a respected religious scholar and translator of the Quran, died in a ‘re-education’ camp at age 82. In addition, reports have indicated that a young Uyghur was driven to suicide in February 2018, and a Uyghur teenager died under mysterious circumstances in March 2018. One Kazakh national was imprisoned for over seven months on allegations of helping Uyghurs obtain passports and was subsequently sent to a camp for 20 days.

China’s ‘re-education camp’ system puts in violation of a number of international human rights norms, including those established in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. Based on Australia’s National Framework for Human Rights and National Action Plan, we request the Australian Government to call on China to end the ‘re-education’ camp system and to release all Uyghurs detained in these facilities. Silence and inaction are not options with so many innocent lives at stake. Silence and inaction are only to encourage China to inflict more suffering on Uyghurs.

The voice of the voiceless Uyghurs languishing in the camps appeals urgently to your moral duty to say “STOP” to such a crime against humanity being committed by China.

Break your silence before we are silenced. 



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