Chinese authorities banned Sadam Abdusalam Nadila Wumaier’s wife and son from leaving Xinjiang by confiscating their passports in 2017.
An Australian, from China’s Uyghur Muslim community, has reunited with his family, including a three-year-old son he had never met, after Beijing agreed to leave Xinjiang.
Sadam Abdusalam posted on social media photographs of his family arriving at Sydney airport on Friday and thanked Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and human rights activists for their help.
“I never thought that day would come and I want to warmly thank everyone who worked so hard to bring us together,” he wrote.
In 2017, Chinese authorities prevented Abdusalam Nadila Wumaier’s wife and son from leaving Xinjiang by confiscating their passports, in what has become a high-profile human rights case in Australia.
Thank you Australian, thank you all ??????? pic.twitter.com/IGNjsz2r7B
– sadam_abdusalam (@SMusapir) December 10, 2020
Abdusalam had come to Australia as a student over ten years ago and married Wumaier in Xinjiang in 2016. He became an Australian citizen in 2013.
Their son Lufty was born in Xinjiang and obtained Australian citizenship in 2019, after Abdusalam urged the Australian government to help the family.
‘A long saga’
In February, after Deputy Chief of China’s Mission in Australia, Wang Xining, told ABC Television that Abdusalam’s wife did not want to leave Xinjiang, she posted a photo on Twitter with a sign saying: “I want to go and be with my husband”.
Payne said in July that the Australian Embassy in Beijing officially asked Chinese authorities to allow Wumaier, a Chinese citizen, to leave.
China has been criticized at the United Nations Human Rights Council by countries like Australia and the United States for the arbitrary detention and restrictions on the freedom of movement of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
According to witnesses and human rights activists, at least one million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are being held in detention camps.
China has dismissed the criticism and said the camps are vocational schools where Uyghurs learn new skills.
Family lawyer Michael Bradley confirmed to Reuters news agency that Lufty, 3, and his mother arrived from China two weeks ago and flew to Sydney on Thursday after being quarantined in a Brisbane hotel.
Bradley, who was at the airport, said Abdusalam was delighted to see his wife and meet his son for the first time.
“We are delighted that it ended this way. It’s been a long saga, ”added Bradley.
In a social media post, Sophie McNeill of Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Australia said reunification was proof that “no injustice can last forever.” HRW had also helped Abdusalam bring the case to light.
“It’s very easy to want to give up often – it all feels too much, too hard, too traumatic, unlikely to succeed,” McNeill wrote.
“This will allow me to continue for a very long time.”