Chinese police still questioning wife of Australian Uyghur man, despite promising to help

Posted WedWednesday 24 JulJuly 2019 at 2:07pm, updated WedWednesday 24 JulJuly 2019 at 10:51pm

Police in China’s far-western Xinjiang region are still questioning the wife of an Australian man interviewed on Four Corners last week, despite Beijing saying it would assist Australia’s efforts to reunite the family.

Key points:

  • Nadila Wumaier and her Australian son Lutfy are not allowed to leave Xinjiang
  • Her husband Sadam is appealing for China to let them join him in Sydney
  • They are Uyghurs, a Muslim minority facing state-led persecution in China

Sadam Abudusalamu has been separated from his wife Nadila Wumaier and their young son Lutfy, who is an Australian citizen, since they were caught up in China’s crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

It is estimated that more than 1 million Uyghurs are currently being detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang, while those not detained have had their passports taken away, making it impossible for them to leave China.

Under these policies, Mr Abudusalamu has not seen his wife in two years, and he has never met baby Lutfy, who will turn two next month.Why won’t China let this two-year-old Australian boy leave?It appears to be the largest imprisonment of people on the basis of religion since the Holocaust: More than a million people have been rounded up, detained and forcibly indoctrinated by the Chinese Government.Read more

After Mr Abudusalamu spoke out about his family’s predicament on Four Corners, police in Xinjiang took Nadila away for questioning — however Beijing later said it would offer “necessary assistance”, after Australia formally requested Nadila and Lutfy be allowed to leave the country.

But despite these public statements, Mr Abudusalamu told Radio National Breakfast his wife was still being subjected to frequent police interrogations.

“She has been taken every day until now, every day by the police, but I don’t want to mention what they’re asking,” he said.

“They forced [her] to sign some papers, it’s been really tough for her — she’s really scared, she’s really worried.

“Every day she’s telling me ‘what am I going to do if I lose my son, what am I going to do if I lose you?'”

Mr Abudusalamu said police had told Nadila they wanted him to stop advocating for her and Lutfy, but he said that was not going to happen.

“They’ve been telling her to tell your husband to be silent, but as a dad, as a husband, I’m not going to stop until I see them in Sydney Airport.”

Watch the full Four Corners episode on ABC iView.

‘We only want to reunite with our family’

Almas Nizamidin, Craig Foster and Sadam Abudusalamu stand at the front of Parliament House.
Almas Nizamidin (left) and Sadam Abudusalamu (right), with former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, were to visit Parliament to lobby politicians.(Twitter: Craig Foster)

Mr Abudusalamu, as well as fellow Uyghur Australian Almas Nizamidin, were expected to meet with federal politicians on Wednesday at Parliament House to ask about speeding-up efforts to bring their families to Australia.

They are being supported by Amnesty International Australia and former Socceroos captain and broadcaster Craig Foster.

The two were due to meet Immigration Minister David Coleman, officials from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office, and a number of other senior politicians from both the major parties.

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Mr Nizamidin, who was also interviewed on Four Corners, said he has not been able to contact his wife Buzainafu since her arrest in the city of Urumqi in March 2017.

Mr Nizamidin with his wife and mother who are both now under detention.
Mr Nizamidin with his wife and mother, who are both detained in Xinjiang.(Supplied: Almas Nizamidin)

“I want to ask my Australian Government to protect me and my family — I have no hope without the Australian Government,” he said.

In April this year, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised him that Chinese officials had sentenced Buzainafu to seven years in jail for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”.

Mr Nizamidin said he was told his mother, who he has also been unable to reach, was accused of committing the same crime.

An online petition started by Amnesty International calling on Chinese authorities to release Buzainafu has so far received almost 24,000 signatures.

Mr Nizamidin said he had proof that his wife was innocent, and he called on the Australian Government to protect the families of its citizens.

“We only want to reunite with our family,” he said.

“As a husband, as a son, I really want to reunite with my family. That’s all I want.

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