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Uyghur father jailed for sending son abroad

A village policeman confirms the arrest and jailing of Nuraxun Rozi, who was arrested for sending his son abroad and visiting Turkey.

Nuraxun Rozi holds his youngest child, Nabile, in Ghulja in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region, 2016. [Credit: Nureli Nuraxun]

Shohret Hoshur

December 22, 2023

When Nuraxun Rozi visited his teenage son who was studying in Egypt in 2015, little did he know his trip abroad, including a stop in Turkey, would later land him a 20-year prison sentence in Xinjiang.

“At the end of December 2015, my father came for a trip to Egypt,” said Nureli Nuraxun, now 22 and an engineer at an aluminum factory in Turkey. 

“He stayed there for a week and traveled in Turkey for another week, then went back home,” Nureli told Radio Free Asia. “After he went back, his passport was confiscated, and he was not allowed to go abroad again.”

Sixteen months after his return, authorities sent him to a detention camp in April 2017 during the height of mass internment of Uyghurs in “re-education” camps under Chinese authorities’ guise of providing vocational training to prevent religious extremism and terrorism, Nureli said. 

Nuraxun, now 49, was later sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2018 for sending his child abroad to study, helping his son while he was in Egypt and for traveling abroad, his son said.

Nureli, who had not previously disclosed his family situation to the media to avoid complicating his father’s case, said he recently decided to reveal it after realizing that his silence was useless.

The Uyghur from the Ara community of Kepekyuzi village in Ghulja, known as Yining in Chinese, is serving his sentence in Kunes Prison, according to an officer at the Kepekyuzi Police Station contacted by RFA.

“A total of 50-60 people are serving in Kunes Prison,” he said. “They are from places like Kepekyuzi and Turpan. They were all arrested around 2017, the same year as Nuraxun.”

The policeman said authorities arrested and jailed Nuraxun for sending his son abroad to study.

“His visit to Turkey also contributed to his 20-year sentence,” he added, though he did not know how authorities determined the length of Nuraxun’s jail term.

'Sensitive Countries'

In their monitoring of Uyghurs’ activities, Chinese authorities previously identified more than 20 countries, including predominantly Muslim ones such as Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, as “sensitive countries” and arrested those who visited them, imprisoning most for five to 10 years.

“I’m not sure how many of the 20 years is due to sending his son abroad and how many is for visiting Turkey,” said the policeman, adding that Nuraxun also took his friend’s teenage son abroad for study.

While Nureli was in Egypt, he saw other Uyghur students being sent back to China in 2016, and the following year he lost contact with his family. Fearing that he would be targeted, Nureli went to Turkey in 2018

“I had heard about my father’s arrest in 2017 and sentencing for 20 years in 2018 after coming to Turkey,” he said

“I couldn’t handle this news at the beginning,” Nureli told RFA. “It caused psychological trauma. For some time, I was very depressed. Later I focused on my studies. I was determined to study harder, thinking of my father suffering in the cells.”

In 2019, Nureli took and passed the exam for prospective mechanical engineering majors at Suleyman Demirel University in Isparta, Turkey, and graduated this year.

He works as an engineer at Yalcinlar Aluminum, where he had interned during his senior year of college.

Translated by RFA Uyghur. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

© 2023 Radio Free Asia


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