The CCP campaigns claiming that the Uyghurs who disappeared are now safely home is a lie, as proved by the case of two prominent Uyghur businessmen and their relatives.
by Ruth Ingram
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More Fake News from the CCP
Rich or poor, religious or atheist, lettered or unschooled, the rationale is baffling. The CCP does not need a reason for its unabated, illegal trawling in of Uyghurs, of all classes and persuasions, and sentencing them without trial.
Responding to growing numbers of Uyghur diaspora around the world appealing for news of relatives back in their home country, Beijing’s state sponsored mouthpiece CGTN (China Global Television Network) launched a publicity drive this week to expose the “lie” that Uyghurs in Xinjiang have gone missing. Claiming to have “found” those advertised under the hashtag “StillNoInfo” posted by worried relatives abroad, CGTN has mounted a series of reports to denounce the so-called fake news that has blackened China’s name, claiming that the reportedly “lost” are in fact safe and sound.
This is however a lie, as evidenced by the case of the Hamdullah brothers. They are two of the most successful real estate magnates in the Uyghur community in Xinjiang. Two Hamdullah brothers, Rozi Haji, 43, and Memet, 37, are among the disappeared Uyghurs who never reappeared. News have now reached the Uyghur diaspora that they are in jail, sentenced, in secret and extra-judicially, to draconian prison terms. Recent reports that his eldest brother Rozi Haji Hamdullah was sentenced to 25 years for unspecified “crimes” and his younger sibling Memet to 15, has spurred the one remaining exiled brother into fighting for their freedom, determined to take the case to the highest court in the world.
A Family Destroyed
Omerjan Hamdullah, 30, youngest brother of the two detained businessmen, alone in his family in the free world to have escaped Xinjiang, is left to plead his brothers’ case after the shocking news.
The two brothers, co-owners of Xinjiang Rozi Haji Ltd. and Korla Chilanbagh Property Ltd, two of the largest and most successful business empires in Xinjiang worth over $140 million, were arrested in Korla in October and December of 2017 and their whereabouts unknown until recently, when news of their fate was passed on discreetly by a Han Chinese former colleague. Despite hearing of the secret trials, no account of their “crimes” nor of their current location have been forthcoming.
But this has not reassured Omerjan speaking from his small, recently acquired Uyghur bookshop in Sepakoy, Istanbul where many of his Uyghur compatriots have made their exiled home. He has had no news from home for more than two years and spoke of the days in the autumn of 2017 when wealthy Uyghur businessmen began to be rounded up and disappear. At that time, he was in Saudi Arabia as a student, the whole family just having visited to pay their respects to their father who had died during a visit to the country. “They returned to Korla,” he said, and suddenly went missing within a couple of months of each other. We had no idea where or why they had been taken,” he said. “I hoped they would just be released after so-called re-education, and that would be that.” But he is still reeling amid fears that he might never see his brothers again.
Omerjan went as a student to Saudi Arabia in 2013 but was forced to move to Turkey in 2017, just as the crackdowns were intensifying. He knew that with his Chinese passport about to expire there would be no hope of renewing it in China, given the blacklisting and arrests of all who had been in Saudi Arabia for any reason. His wife, who joined him in Turkey, also heard at this time that her father who was the imam of the main Korla mosque had been sentenced to 15 years.
Omerjan, who has had no alternative than to make a new home with his wife and two children far from his mother and large extended family in Korla, is mystified and angry at the injustice metered out to his brothers. “The greatest affront is that they have done absolutely nothing wrong,” he said. He speaks of his eldest brother who, despite his business success, never forgot the needy in their community and poured funds into poverty reduction and education. From humble beginnings, selling pears and developing orchards in Shaqur Village, near Korla in the Bayangol Mongol Autonomous Prefecture, he went on to open several luxurious Uyghur-style restaurants, moving eventually into real estate with his younger brother.
“The CCP Was After Their Money”
Omerjan cannot understand why two educated and successful business moguls who benefitted their neighborhood and created wealth for their country would have received such harsh treatment. “I can only think that the CCP wants their fortune,” he said despondently. “There was no court case. They simply vanished and we only heard via the backdoor of their sentences.”
This week Omerjan renewed his appeal to the Chinese government for news of his family via Facebook. “They have committed no other crime other than being Uyghurs and businessmen who were getting rich through their hard work,” he said bitterly.
Two years have passed since Omerjan was able to contact his 60-years-old widowed mother, Hennisahan Semet, who is paralyzed and wheelchair-bound. He has no idea who is caring for her. Other members of the family, including the wives and four children of his brothers, his sisters Zeynigul and Havagul Hamdullah and their children, are also likewise incommunicado, in fear of their own safety, were messages to start coming from Turkey, another of the CCP’s banned destinations for Uyghurs. With no news to the contrary he fears they could be in camps or worse still, dead. “The cruelest thing is not knowing what has become of them all,” he said.
He dared Beijing to bring him news of his family. “If you know where they are, then tell me,” he said. “Tell me too why my brothers were sentenced in secret with no legal representation. Tell me what they did wrong and where they are!” He describes the CCP’s publicity drive to claim all is well in Xinjiang as cynical cruelty. “We all know the truth. We all know exactly what is going on over there,” he said. “Beijing invites people to go and see for themselves, but all they come away with is a stage-managed publicity stunt.” He described the CCP’s propaganda department as itself a manufacturer of “fake news.”
An Appeal to the Free World
From wealthy roots, Omerjan is starting from scratch again as so many of the Uyghur diaspora who have lost everything to the Chinese government. The entire family empire, consisting of 10 buildings, numerous restaurants decorated in Uyghur national style and various properties, have all been confiscated and every cent frozen by the government. Scrimping and scraping, he borrowed money to buy a bookshop, prints and sells Uyghur books, national skullcaps and souvenirs. “Like all of my countrymen here we are having to start again,” he said. “Whoever we used to be is irrelevant. We have to just survive and raise our families.”
He is determined to leave no stone unturned to get justice for his brothers and will go to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if that is what it takes. “There is no justice in China. It is a lawless place,” he says ruefully. “Perhaps I can find justice from the world.”
Omerjan is appealing to anyone who might be able to help him locate his family and get justice for his brothers. “I request all countries around the world to help me to pressurize the Chinese government to release my family members from jail and allow me to contact them normally,” he begged.