Press Release Date: Wednesday 18th March 2020
Human Aid UK (a British based NGO) departed from London to Istanbul on the 15th March 2020 to meet Uyghur families, who have fled to Turkey to rebuild their lives.
The Uyghurs that HAUK have interviewed consented to their personal stories being told, provided that their identities are concealed – for their own protection and that of their loved ones. These interviews were conducted by Dr. Zeeshan Siddiqui, a GP and Board Member for HAUK and Sohidul Choudhury, the Director of Operations at HAUK.
Sohidul found that the majority of ‘bread winners’ of the household were women, and tended to on an average three to five children. Their husbands whereabouts are unknown – either missing or imprisoned in the ‘re-education’ camps back in east Turkestan or Xinjiang. News about them is scarce and contact is nearby impossible, for fear of repercussions to their loved ones who stayed behind.
The two characteristics that we witnessed upon meeting the Uyghurs were hospitality and resilience. They were eager to welcome us into their homes, serve us with food and tea.
They were more joyous knowing that we came all the way from London to meet them. More importantly, we wanted to express our solidarity with their plight and vowed to continue supporting the Uyghur people. We wanted to remind them that their voices were not falling on deaf ears in the West.
Abdullah is a 25 year graduate and a Hafiz in the Qur’an, who has not heard from his three sisters and only brother for three years. It’s hard not to mention anything about the current pandemic that is Covid-19 or the Coronavirus. He said that the virus has brought the world into standstill, including China with all of its economic and political clout. He found irony in that whilst his people were being detained by force in Xinjiang, other regions in China are forcing their own to quarantine.
Despite this ‘Wasibah from Allah’, Abdullah and the other Uyghurs say they supplicate to Allah that he protects the Uyghur Muslims and Muslims in general wherever they may be.
Dr Zeeshan noted with concern that, ‘Most countries have started to self quarantine, seal their borders and implement distancing. But what about the million or more Uyghurs who are left languishing in these camps? They have been there for years, while we are debating self-quarantine for a month or two. If the virus has spread to the camps, there could be an alarming fatality rate due to the lack of adequate healthcare among other things.’
We ask Allah to alleviate their hardship and reunite them with their families.