Oct 21, 2020
The persecution and genocidal policies the Chinese authorities have been committing against the Uyghurs have forced many Uyghurs to flee from China and settle in other countries. The aspiration of the Uyghurs to live in free nations has especially risen after the Urumqi Massacre on July 5th, 2009.
Although many Uyghurs who escaped from China over the past decade have been able to settle down in countries that protect them against China’s reach and persecution, this has not been the case for some. Many Uyghurs who came to the Middle East never felt safe and protected. They have often struggled to secure a permanent solution for their residency issues. Interestingly, hundreds of Uyghurs that arrived in Western countries have also found it considerably difficult to settle down in the societies they aspired and believed will resolve their issues once and for all. The anti-immigration sentiment that rose in recent years in some Western nations had also impacted the Uyghurs who have been lucky enough to flee the genocide inflicting their fellow Uyghurs in East Turkistan.
It is estimated that there are hundreds of Uyghurs waiting to hear back on their asylum applications in the US for years. This is also true for the Uyghurs who arrived in Australia since 2017. This long delay in the immigration procedures prevented those Uyghurs from traveling safely and seeing their loved ones in other countries.
Fatimah Abdulghafur, a Uyghur scientist in Australia has spoken out about her struggle in getting a travel document. Abdulghafur’s Chinese passport had already expired but she is afraid to go to the Chinese Embassy to renew her passport. Hence, she wanted to get an Australian travel document to travel to Turkey for a family visit. However, the passport office in Sydney denied her request. “I was refused to submit an application at the Sydney Passport Office without a chance to explain my Uyghur case.” She tweeted.
Abdulghafur’s experience resonates with the difficult situation of many Uyghurs in the US, Australia, and some European countries. The Uyghurs cannot renew their Chinese passports as they believe they will be in danger if they go to the Chinese embassy or the Chinese embassy will just refuse their application. The immigration officials’ lack of understanding and sympathy for Uyghurs’ plight has added a greater burden and suffering to the Uyghurs.
“We are already facing so much trauma because of the death camps and missing family members, how is Australia helping its Uyghur residents to cope with the pain and try to ease them? Nothing!” said Abdulghafur.