Melbourne, Australia – Yusuf Hussein is an Australian citizen of Uighur who lives in the small town of Adelaide.
She and her five children talk to her elderly parents every week, but since 2017 she has not been able to connect with them.
“Suddenly, [they] he disappeared and no one answered my phone, ”Hussein told Al Jazeera.
“She never wrote me. I tried to send a message. No one answered. ”
A recent Human Rights Watch report has criticized the Chinese government for “crimes against humanity”Against Uighur Muslims in the western part of Xinjiang.
Offenses including imprisonment, forced labor, sexual violence, torture, murder and forced eviction.
Hussein believes his father, 85, his mother and siblings have been relocated to what he calls a “concentration camp” – large construction sites that the United Nations has said could accommodate about 1 million Uighur residents.
The Chinese government calls such places “educational”technical education“.
The president of the Uighur Association of Victoria, Alim Osman, says in a recent lawsuit there were about 5,000 Uighurs living in Australia, with about 1,500 of them thought to be in Adelaide, a city of 1.3 million people on the south coast.
Many Uighurs living in Australia have similar stories of their love of imprisonment or disappearance altogether.
‘No One Can Answer Us’
Marhaba Yakub Salay, 33, as Hussein, an Australian Uighur native living in Adelaide, immigrated to the country in 2011.
His older sister Mayila Yakufu has also been arrested in Xinjiang for the second time.
When Yakufu was released from prison after a 10-month detention in 2017, Salay spoke with him on the phone for about 10 minutes.
In the conversation, Yakufu would not say where he was.
“I try to ask him – where has he been 10 months ago?” Salay told Al Jazeera.
“He did not say anything, but said, ‘Don’t worry about us – the Communist Party of China [is] by taking good care of us. ‘”
Salay believes her sister does not make phone calls from home, but from another area under government supervision.
This was the last time he spoke and in May 2019, Yakufu was beaten again.
According to an email from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) – which Al Jazeera has seen – Salay’s sister was arrested “on suspicion of money laundering”.
The lawsuit, Salay explained, was set up with money that their sister had transferred to their parents, who also live in Adelaide.
The money, Salay told Al Jazeera, was not a terrorist act, but a house purchase.
“We have all the evidence here,” Salay said. “It’s black and white evidence – but the Chinese government accuses my sister of supporting foreign terrorists.”
Salay believes such allegations were made by the Chinese government to arrest his Uighur sister, with a DFAT email stating that her sister should be detained “in a traditional prison, rather than tortured”.
Almas Nizanidin also had a loved one, a native of Uighur Australia, “missing”.
In 2017, his wife Buzainafu Abudourexiti, now 29, was sentenced to seven years in prison on the grounds that he was “not guilty” and “without evidence”.
Nizanidin planned to return to China to help his wife move to Australia, where he has been living since 2009, but was arrested before, and does not know where he is.
“[The Chinese authorities] it doesn’t tell me anything. He told us that ‘this is a command from the highest authorities,’ ‘he told Al Jazeera.
“I have been everywhere [in China] and no one can answer me. ”
Nizanidin said his mother – a 55-year-old vegetarian teacher in high school – was also arrested and sent to prison for more than two years.
He was later released last year, but Nizanidin said when he spoke to his mother on the phone, he would not say anything about his experience.
“She is amazed, scared. He does not want to say anything, ”he said.
“They tell me, ‘Be quiet, be quiet. Just do your business – don’t say anything against the Chinese government.'”
Hussein, Salay and Nizanidin all told Al Jazeera that the Australian government had assisted in investigating what happened to their loved ones.
However, Nizanidin said the Australian government was on the lookout for the missing Uighurs because of its close ties with China.
It is an idea that Salay shared.
“I know sometimes they talk about money. But money should be clean, shouldn’t it? “He told Al Jazeera.
China is Australia’s largest exporter, accounting for US $ 168 billion (US $ 128.6bn) in exports for 2019-20, equivalent to one-third of Australia’s international partnership.
In recent days, trade relations have been strained as a result of Australian calls to investigate the origins of coronavirus in China and allegations of coercion among Chinese companies in Xinjiang have also threatened Australian trade relations.
Toward the end of 2020, the report said that the Victoria government – Australia’s second most populous country – was affiliated with a Chinese company affiliated with forced labor in Uighur.
A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Uyghurs For Sale, has identified 82 foreign and Chinese companies “that may or may not directly benefit from exploiting the Uighur people outside Xinjiang through recent migration routes such as 2019”.
The companies mentioned in the report include CRRC, which ASPI said was part of a $ 2 billion Australian (US $ 1.5bn) contract to build 65 state-owned Victoria ships.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, the spokesman said the Victorian government was “deeply concerned about cases of forced labor” by companies involved in the Victoria Railway work.
The document further states that the government received “repeated assurances from manufacturers that there is no compelling evidence in their copies”.
Despite calls from critics to testify against such evidence, nothing was offered.
Instead, Attorney General David Davis took steps to obtain the evidence through state court cases.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Davis admitted that it was “difficult to look down on goods” because of the pressure.
However, he added: “If the minister receives the guarantee [that Uighur forced labour was not being used] we want to see this proof ”and we asked why the government is“ struggling so hard ”not to receive this evidence.
It is the governments of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada all put China soon by treating a minority of Uighur people, Hussein, Salay and Nizanidin all believe that the Australian government should follow this.
“The Australian government will realize that I am killing people and is forcing the Chinese government to release my sister,” Salay said.
For all three, the issue is simple and humane: three Australian citizens are not in contact with their relatives.
“I have to talk to my wife,” Salay said. “I just want to be reunited with my family.”
The pain of separation increased in the recent Eid.
“Today is our Eid day and we used to call them and talk to them [our family]Hussein told Al Jazeera.
“But we are crying. Even my children — our 11-year-old — might ask, ‘Where is my grandmother? Where is my grandmother? ‘”