Relatives of Missing Uyghurs Learn Their Fate Years Later

By Asim Kashgarian

Some members of the Uyghur community abroad say China is now officially announcing the indictments or deaths of family members who vanished years ago in internment camps in the Xinjiang region.

VOA recently talked to five of those diaspora Uyghurs who said they were either directly contacted by Chinese officials or learned through foreign missions, U.N. working groups, or Chinese government press conferences that their loved ones were either jailed on dubious charges or died of illnesses at the so-called reeducation camps.

Abdurehim Gheni, 44, a Uyghur living in the Netherlands, told VOA he lost contact with his family in Xinjiang in 2017. He said a letter to the Dutch Foreign Ministry from the Chinese Embassy said that two of his brothers, a niece and two brothers-in-law had been sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to 16 years for crimes such as disturbing social order. The embassy said the rest of his family were “living normally in society,” a claim Gheni, a naturalized Dutch citizen, said is far from reassuring.

He is not the only diaspora Uyghur to receive news recently from the Chinese about missing family members.

The Chinese Embassy in Ankara told Nursiman Abdureshid, 32, that her parents and siblings had been imprisoned for “terrorism” after they disappeared in mid-2017. She believes the embassy contact was the result of the active advocacy she has led since February to secure the release of her family.

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