This International Day of the disappeared, take action for Uyghur-Australians

Today is International Day of the disappeared. Being disappeared is more than a human rights violation against an individual. It is used as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity generated by this practice extends to the relatives and loved ones of the disappeared, as well as their communities and society as a whole.

It has been four years since China launched an unprecedented campaign of mass detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups. This has taken place in Xinjiang – the Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwestern China.

Uyghurs overseas often hesitate to publicly talk about human rights abuses against them and their relatives, due to fear of repercussions for their relatives back in China. The Chinese government originally denied the existence of these detention camps. Later, it began claiming that the facilities were “vocational training” centres to help rid Uyghurs and others of their “extremist” thoughts and provide them with “job training”.

The Chinese government has steadfastly resisted calls to admit independent monitors into the region, allowing only carefully stage-managed tours for select journalists and diplomats. Meanwhile, friends and relatives of people believed to be detained remain cut off from information and unsure where their loved ones are. Many of the disappeared have connections to Australia. Today, we take action for them

Take action for Mirzat, an Australian permanent resident

Portrait of Uyghur man Mirzat Taher. He wears a black bowtie and black jacket.
Mirzat Taher is an Australian permanent resident. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Xinjiang – where China is committing crimes against humanity. In August 2016 Mirzat married Australian-born Mehray in Xinjiang – a region of China home to many Muslim ethnic minorities, including Uyghurs like Mirzat and Mehray. In April 2017, Mirzat and Mehray were about to fly to Australia and start their life together, but police turned up at their door and detained Mirzat just 2 days before their flight. In the nearly five years they have been married, Mirzat has been detained three times. Now, he and Mehray they face 25 years apart – simply because they are Uyghur. Take action by adding your name now.

Take action for Mamutjan, who lives in Australia separated from his family

Mamutjan is a Uyghur man living in Australia. He was studying for his doctoral degree in Malaysia before his life became a recurring nightmare. In 2015 his wife Muherrem and two children returned to China to renew Muherrem’s passport. They did not know that China was about to launch an unprecedented crackdown in Xinjiang that would have a horrific impact on the lives of what is estimated to be thousands of parents just like them. n his wife or children since. Take action for Mamutjan, and other Uyghur parents separated from their families now.

A self-taken photo of Mamutjan
Mamutjan © Private

Take action for Buzainafu, who was sentenced to prison in a secret trial

Uyghur woman Buzainafu Abudourexiti has been sentenced to seven years in prison in a secret trial, and is unable to talk to her family, including her Australian husband Almas. Chinese police took Buzainafu from her parents’ home in Xinjiang, China in March 2017. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in June 2017 on charges of ‘assembling a crowd to disturb social order.’ At the time of her arrest, Buzainafu was about to join her husband Almas in Australia, where they could begin their lives together. Almas has not heard from Buzainafu since the police took her from her parents’ home. Take action, by adding your name now.

a woman in a white lacey wedding dress, standing next to a man in a suit, holding a bouquet of flowers, both smiling happily
Buzainafu with her husband, Almas, on their wedding day. © Private

Take action for Mahira, whose parents in Australia fear for her safety

The authorities detained Mahira in April 2019, and have since accused her of “giving material support to terrorist activity” for transferring money to her parents. According to her sister, the money was transferred in 2013 to help her parents buy a house. Mahira’s parents and sister live in Australia. Family and friends have grave concerns for her wellbeing, especially as she suffered from liver damage during a previous detention. Mahira is being held without any legal representation, nor evidence for the ‘crime’ she’s accused of. Take action for her now.

A young woman wearing a white knitted beanie and a white floral patterned scarf.
Mahira Yakub. Image: Private