Abdurehim Gheni’s 19 relatives disappeared. He wants to know from the CCP where they are.
by Martyna Kokotkiewicz
For three days, August 12, 13, and 14, Abdurehim Gheni, an Uyghur activist based in the Netherlands protested outside the Chinese Consulate in the Hague. On August 14, he was arrested for trespassing into Chinese property, although he was later released and fined Euro 1,000.
Abdurehim is one of the most active advocates for the Uyghur cause in Europe. This was not his first protest. In fact, he organizes a one-man protest every weekend in the Dam Square in Amsterdam.
As is the case for many Uyghurs overseas, Abdurehim Gheni has been unable to contact many of his relatives for years. In his case, it means as much as 19 people. Since the repression against the Uyghur ethnic minority in China intensified after 2017, he lost contact with his family. Now, he cannot even be sure whether his relatives are alive. They may be detained in the dreaded transformation through education camps that, as we know, are in fact concentration camps. The aim of Abdurehim’s protests is to induce the Chinese government to reveal information about his missing relatives and allow him to contact them.
The protests in the Dam Square in Amsterdam have played a significant role in spreading awareness about the Uyghur plight in Europe. Abdurehim Gheni has been regularly sharing videos and photographs from the protests through social media. The reactions prove that the public’s interest in the Uyghur cause is constantly growing.
The mid-August event in The Hague was another attempt to break the policy of silence that China has been exercising when asked about representatives of minorities who “disappeared.” The whereabouts of many Uyghur intellectuals, artists, religious scholars, as well as average people missed by their relatives abroad, have remained unknown for too long. The actions taken by people such as Abdurehim Gheni, and those who support them, bring at least some hope that the situation may one day change.