June 28, 2022
Photo: Subi Yuksel
By Subi Yukse
I am a mother of three, all who are under the age of six. I’m struggling to fulfill my duties as a loving and caring mother due to the injustice of my father's imprisonment. My husband is an IT software engineer, and a co-founder of an IT training school that is helping the community with better preparation for job placements. He is also deeply affected by the human rights violations happening back in China, as he also cannot contact his family freely.
I remember on the 29th of April 2017, the same day my parents departed for the U.S, my father went missing. After many hours two policemen came to my parents' house. They informed my mom that my father was with them and asked her to turn their passports over to them. For two continuous months my mother and sister were treated like criminals and subjected to intense questioning for eight hours straight every day. They were beaten, threatened, and my mother was even forcefully medicated to keep her calm during questioning. My father was also forced to write a letter claiming that my brother and I betrayed the Chinese communist party for becoming separatists. The letter also commanded us to prove our innocence.
Three long years after my father's disappearance the Chinese government sentenced him to life in prison for being “separatist” and “two-faced." My father's lifelong savings and his land, which also belongs to my brother, were confiscated. My mother's retirement income and insurance were also terminated. Since my brother and I continue to live in the U.S. and refused to go back due to the safety risks, my father's lifetime of hard work and earnings vanished. He was wrongfully imprisoned, leaving my brother and I here in the U.S., and our family back home devastated.
I remember after some of these terrifying visits my mother would call me in a rage. She said, “You two were the reason for your dad’s arrest!” But I could tell those weren’t really her words; I could sense she was repeating what the interrogators had drummed into her head. On one occasion a government agent jabbed the point of a pen into her face. On another occasion she was given some kind of medication to make her more cooperative.
Even though we all began to fear the worst, my father had yet to be formally charged with any crime, and there were still days that my mother would say — out of desperation — things like: “We have to trust the party. Your father worked for the government for his entire life. He will come home as long as you don’t get involved in anything over there.”
My father was the Chief of the Xinjiang Forestry Department, and had retired in 2008. He has never committed any crimes and has spent all of his life doing valuable work for the nation. Because of his great leadership ability, proficiency, and his integrity, he was always chosen to work in governing positions. It is shocking that all of a sudden he was proclaimed as a “criminal” in the eyes of the CCP, among millions of other Uyghurs who were jailed and locked up in concentration camps.
My father’s only crime is that he has always been a prominent intellectual and a well-respected Uyghur man. Hence, I believe that the CCP was threatened by his talent and his excellence in leadership. In the eyes of the Chinese government, prominent, well-educated, and wealthy figures like my father, who are from within the Uyghur community, are seen and treated as a threat to the regime. As I have mentioned before, such Uyghurs are usually accused of being “two-faced”, “separatists”, “religion extremists”, “abusers of power”, and are given other false labels.
Uyghurs are being mistreated, and their properties and lifelong earnings are being continuously confiscated, which leaves their families without a financial backbone or support. Additionally, they have been locking up multiple family members at the same time under the same accusations. As scary as this sounds, the Chinese government imprisons Uyghurs without showing any evidence for their so-called “crimes”.
In May of 2019 my uncle, Hekim Hadeer, who was a former judge in Korla, Xinjiang, was also arrested and wrongfully sentenced to thirteen years in jail. He has a daughter who lives abroad in Germany, and other relatives who live in the U.S. His family members were also detained for questioning, and tortured for information based on false accusations that lead to court orders.
The heartbreak this trauma has caused my family has been immeasurable. I am a U.S. citizen who immigrated to this country in 2007 with my brother and sister-in-law. Since arriving, I have focused on completing my education and achieving the American dream of living freely in this great country. Even as I was dealing with this trauma, I continued to work hard and finish my degree at George Mason University. Every day since has been a challenge with sleepless nights, panic attacks, and the utter feeling of helplessness for my brother and me.
My family and I feel like we have lost our happiness forever. The most painful part is our inability to prove our innocence against the false accusations. Without this we can’t help to prove my father's innocence and continue to fear for the safety and well-being of my mother and sister who still live in XUAR. I cannot express how much pain has been inflicted upon myself and my family over the years because of this injustice, and I seek your help for my father's sake.
We as American citizens have been sincerely putting effort into our community and fulfilling our duties as responsible, lawful, and supportive citizens. I appreciate the opportunities this great country has afforded my family and I, along with many other Uyghur Americans. I believe it is our duty to work even harder to give back to this country. However, with this horrifying event that has happened to our parents, siblings, and other relatives who have been unable to emigrate from Xinjiang, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to even focus on our basic daily lives.
People like my father are imprisoned for years without any reason. Just for who they are… just because they are Uyghur. Almost every household has at least one or two people who have spent time in the camps.
Just recently we saw a propaganda video from the Chinese government, supposedly showing my father taking money from a paramilitary organization that is controlled by the central government in Beijing. There is no way that any regular person could even get near that paramilitary organisation. On the paper it shows the money was taken in 2010, but my father was retired in 2008. One of the documents they show doesn’t even have dates. His “crime” is being a well-educated, prominent, well-respected Uyghur man. The Chinese government is threatened by his intelligence, knowledge, and the respect that he had earned among the Uyghur and Han Chinese communities.
My father always put our happiness before his. He is the most generous person I have ever known. He has a golden heart, is a very selfless and caring father, and he puts his family’s happiness before him. He also values sincerity and treats everyone equally. He is a real gentleman. Even though he worked in a high-ranking position for many years, he was still very humble, and people respected him because of his character. He is such a positive person who just wanted to enjoy his later years with my mom and spend time with his grandchildren.
During his retirement he picked up his old hobby of painting after forty years. On my wedding day he gave me a painting as a gift. It was a beautiful painting. After the birth of my child my parents came to visit me. My father planted a tree by my front door, naming it “Ilzat” after my firstborn son. At first, seeing his paintings and the tree caused me pain because they reminded me of his absence. But now I see they are a beautiful gift, and I enjoy them. They have helped me to stay hopeful. When I have a hard time feeling like myself, I look at the paintings. Every time I see the paintings and the tree it keeps me going.
It is painful that my father isn't only being held captive unlawfully, but most likely being mistreated and perhaps tortured. These thoughts drive me crazy and make me restless. An individual who has dedicated his life to serving his nation and people is now spending his life in a prison. I can't stress enough that this tragedy shouldn't be taking place in the 21st century. Not a single human being should receive life in prison without a fair, transparent trial. The evidence and the accusations have been falsified. There is no proper court proceeding, and all I am left with is to engage humanity and urge people to play a role in helping me with this battle.