Swedish author managed to escape – but his family is oppressed in China

According to Swedish media Expressen, it is not only Swedish companies that are affected by the situation in Xinjiang, China over human rights violations, Swedish citizens are also affected. One of them is Adbushukur Muhammet, who is a Uighur author in Stockholm and who has not been able to contact his family in China for several years. 

To Expressen, he says, “In countries with wars like Syria, or in Africa’s poorest countries, people can still contact family members abroad. Only we Uighurs have this situation.”

Uigur is the largest ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region, which the Chinese authorities have now isolated to control all information about the political situation there. Ethnic conflicts have been going on for a long time in western China. Adbushukur Muhammet left Xinjiang as early as 2003, after having problems in his work as a teacher. Cameras were installed in the classrooms. One of the students had been detained, and another had been beaten by military personnel out in the open street. He was afraid he was next in line.

Sixteen years ago, he settled in Sweden and became a Swedish citizen in 2007. But the move came at a high price. His entire family, including eight siblings with families, remain in Xinjiang. He has not seen any of them in two decades, nor has he been able to have contact with any of them in four years.

“One of my sisters asked me in 2017: “Please do not call me again. The police have come home here and said that you must stop contacting your brother, otherwise you will be punished. “

The sister cried on the phone and said she hoped to see her brother again in the next life. That was the person in the family that Adbushukur Muhammet last spoke to. The other siblings had already cut contact, as they were regularly called to the police station after talking to him.

According to several testimonies and reports from, among others, Human Rights Watch, it is enough to have WhatsApp or Twitter installed on the phone, to end up in one of the region’s countless prison camps. In 2019 Adbushukur Muhammet tried to call his sister again but the call did not come through and he is now afraid that he has lost contact with his family forever.

“Wrong pictures or chats can lead to arrest, so there are many in Xinjiang who do not dare to use smartphones anymore. All I have is a phone number”, he says

In 2019, Adbushukur Muhammet wrote to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs to ask for help via the Swedish embassy in Beijing asking if it is possible to investigate who of his relatives were imprisoned, or if all are still alive? In response, he was told that Swedish authorities can not do anything, since the family members are not Swedish citizens.

 

Mette Larsen

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen