Australian Uighur household reunited after leaving Xinjiang

By Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian man from China’s Muslim Uighur community was reunited with his family, including a three-year-old son he had never met, after Beijing agreed they could depart Xinjiang.

Sadam Abudusalamu posted on Twitter photographs of his family arriving at Sydney airport on Thursday and thanked Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne, human rights activists, and “everyone who worked so hard to reunite us”.

In 2017, Chinese authorities banned Abudusalamu’s wife Nadila Wumaier and son from leaving Xinjiang by confiscating their passports, in what became a high-profile human rights case in Australia.

Abdusalamu had come to Australia as a student over a decade ago, and married Wumaier in Xinjiang in 2016. Their son Lufty was born in Xinjiang, and granted Australian citizenship in 2019, after Abdusalamu urged the Australian government to help the family.

In February, after China’s deputy head of mission in Australia, Wang Xining, said on ABC Television Wumaier didn’t want to leave Xinjiang, she posted a photograph to Twitter holding a sign saying ‘I want to leave and be with my husband’.

Payne said in July the Australian embassy in Beijing had formally requested the Chinese authorities allow Wumaier, a Chinese citizen, to leave.

China has been criticised at the United Nations Human Rights Council by countries including Australia and the United States for the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. China has rejected the criticism.

The family’s lawyer Michael Bradley confirmed to Reuters that Lufty, 3, and his mother had arrived from China two weeks ago, and had flown to Sydney on Thursday after quarantining at a hotel in Brisbane.

Bradley, who was at the airport, said Abudusalamu was overjoyed to see his wife, and meet his son.

“We are just thrilled it has ended this way. It has been a long saga,” Bradley added.

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