Image: Private Album
By Almas Nizamidin / End Transplant Abuse
My name is Almas Nizamidin. I am from Adelaide, Australia and I work as a building contractor. My wife, Buzainafu Abudourexiti, was my high school sweetheart. She was sentenced to seven years in prison in Xinjiang, where she remains incarcerated to this day in a women’s prison.
I was part of the initial demonstrations of the Urumqi riots in 2009. In the midst of a brutal police crackdown that had started, my parents urged me to flee to seek asylum in Australia. I did so and eventually became an Australian citizen in 2014. Buzainafu and I remained dedicated to one another throughout this time. After she graduated from her studies, we married in our hometown, Ürümqi, in 2016. On the 14th of February Valentine’s Day in 2017, I surprised her with a visit. I stayed for a month, and we made plans for the future; our lives started looking up.
The police came for my wife at her home on 29 March 2017. She was traveling to a doctor’s appointment as she had just found out she was pregnant with our child. Her family had called her, and she cancelled her appointment and hurried home. There, the police shoved a bag over her head, forced her into a car and drove her away. No one has seen her since. I found out about her arrest and disappearance second-hand. I am certain our unborn baby was lost. I believe they performed a forced abortion. That is what they do to Uyghur women, to our people in that place.
I had frantically returned to China upon finding out about her arrest. I had to bribe the police to gain information on her whereabouts and welfare, but only vague assertions were given. I was told the exact nature of my wife’s arrest was a “state secret” and she had no right to a lawyer. She was sentenced to seven years in prison for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”. I was in disbelief; my wife was introverted and shy, it was simply impossible. I suspect my wife was arrested because she was previously in Egypt for studies.
The day after her sentencing, I was summoned to the local police station and told I had 24 hours to leave China or face arrest. I was told to tell no one about my wife’s detention.
In January 2018, my mother, a retired former maths teacher, was also detained. The charge against her was identical to that laid against my wife, but instead she was arbitrarily detained for 22 months, forced to undergo ‘re-education’ and to work in a factory. After almost two years, she was then released to home confinement. She is unable to leave China and remains under surveillance. Our communications are monitored. In 2019, I was granted a single telephone call; they were forcing her to say something, and she was crying and apologising. They gave her only three minutes, just to let me know she’s alive.
I have spoken out with the support of Amnesty International, and have shared my story with journalists. In 2020, I gave evidence to a UK House of Commons inquiry into detention camps in Xinjiang. Every year I visit Canberra, beseeching political support from ministers and backbenchers alike, for them to do more to help reunite my family. People listen, and they feel very sorry for me, but follow up actions have yet to occur.
I have not seen my wife in nearly six years. Even the photos I have of her are from five years ago. My mother, my love, they are forced into detention. I feel so guilty that I can’t bring them here to Australia. It hurts. Even if you’re living in a free country, on the inside you are not free. Something is catching you. That is why I speak out for them, I have to.
I do not fear retribution for speaking out. They have taken my wife, my child, and my mother from me. What else can they do to me?