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Australian Uighur family reunited after China finally allows wife, son to leave Xinjiang

Sadam Abdusalam holds up a photo of his wife Nadila Wumaier and their son [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 11 December, 2020

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Sadam Abudusalamu met his three-year-old son for the first time on Thursday when the family were reunited at Sydney airport.
An Australian Uighur man was finally reunited with his family at Sydney airport on Thursday, Reuters reported, after Beijing gave permission for his wife and son to leave Xinjiang.

Sadam Abudusalamu met his three-year old son for the first time on Thursday after his family were prevented from leaving Xinjiang in 2017 by the Chinese authorities.

Photographs on Twitter showed the family's heartfelt reunion as Abudusalamu thanked Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, human rights activists, and "everyone who worked so hard to reunite us".

"My dream is for all my fellow Uighurs to be reunited with their families," he said.

The family's lawyer, Michael Bradley, told Reuters that Lufty and his mother had arrived from China two weeks ago and had now been reunited with Abudusalamu after two weeks in quarantine.

"We are just thrilled it has ended this way. It has been a long saga," Bradley said.

Abudusalamu arrived in Australia over a decade ago and married his wife Nadila Wumaier in 2016. Their son Lufty was born in Xinjiang and given Australian citizenship in 2018.

Canberra had initially denied citizenship to baby Lutifeier, who was born in Xinjiang in August 2017 to an Australian father and a Uighur mother, but backtracked following a legal battle.

When Nadila and Lufty were prevented from leaving Xinjiang in 2017 by Chinese authorities who confiscated their passports it became a high profile human rights case in Australia.

China's deputy head of mission in Australia, Wang Xining, claimed in February that Nadila didn't want to leave Xinjiang. Shortly after, Nadila posted a photo on Twitter of her holding a sign saying "I want to leave and be with my husband". 

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in July that "the Embassy in Beijing have formally requested that the Chinese authorities allow Ms Wumaier and her son (who is an Australian citizen) to travel to Australia".

Canberra stepped up the pressure on Beijing days after Australia co-signed a letter denouncing its treatment of the Muslim minority.

Australia's request also came soon after Abudusalamu shared his plight publicly for the first time, after months of campaigning for his wife and son to be able to come to Australia.

China has detained up to an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking minorities in "re-education" camps in the tightly-controlled region of Xinjiang in the country's northwest.

Muslims in Xinjiang are barred from fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and have allegedly forced to drink alcohol and eat pork - both forbidden in Islam - in internment camps.

Rights groups and former inmates see the measures as part of a campaign to forcefully assimilate Uighurs and other minorities into the country's majority ethnic Han society, diluting their unique cultures and religious beliefs.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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