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Sulayman Aziz, now residing in the United States, does not know where his younger brother, Alim, is held. Aziz heard that Alim was sentenced without trial to ten years in prison: either due to his travel to Turkey, or from allegations of attending Uyghur Academy meetings. To the Chinese state, either are signs of ‘religious extremism’. When Aziz attended a protest of CCP treatment of Uyghurs in front of the European Commission building in Brussels, April 27th 2018, he met a friend of Alim’s. The friend confirmed Alim was sentenced to ten years and sent to a prison in Korla. The train line between Golmud and Korla connects Xinjiang to the larger area of China. While many believe it to be a site of forced labour (with extremely poor conditions), more worryingly it is where others believe to be the heart of forced organ harvesting for Uyghur prisoners.
What were the Urumqi Uprisings?
July 5th, we had a big uprising, the Uyghur people and especially the students, were gathered and they demanded justice for their Uyghur brothers and sisters who died in these forced labor camps, and the unjust treatment they were receiving from the CCP.
What was your journey to the U.S. like? What were some of the difficulties you faced?
I struggled getting passports for many years. I was working as a dentist at the time. There was a program called Ford Foundation that helped people in poor countries come to the U.S., learn leadership skills, and bring those skills back to help their people. I got a fellowship from the program and it was easy to get a visa from there. To get the passports for my family, I traded my clinic as payment to get the documents and they joined me in 2010
When did you lose touch with your family?
August 2016 was the last time I called my mom. I called my mom just before Eid and she was not talking with me, so I knew something must be wrong. When I called my sister, that was when I heard that my brother was taken by the Chinese authorities. When I asked why, she said it was because he went to Turkey for six months to learn Turkish in 2014.
Please tell us what transpired in brussels.
After my brother was taken I contacted my mother and sisters, and I could not reach them. I tried to ask friends in different cities, but everyone was scared and could not help me find out what happened to them. I went to the big cities for the One Step One Voice protests. It was then that I went to Brussels for a similar purpose. There, I met another person who was locked up at the same time as my brother and he told me what happened to him. I was also worried because I was told that anyone who had gone for Hajj was being rounded up and I feared for my mother, who is 75 years old. But I got news confirming she was at home.
What would you say are the major goals of the Ending Forced Labor Act?
Firstly, this is good news that there is another honesty act coming. People are working for Chinese companies with little to no pay and the companies are selling and making money that is going back into the system of oppression. To get Uyghurs to forced labor camps, they take hundreds of thousands of Uyghur men and women hours away from their homes to mainland China. There they are put to work. Hopefully the act will be able to do more to free these people and Allah will make it easier.
Tell us more about your brother.
He is the youngest in the family and was the spoiled one. He was a very artistic guy and he painted very beautifully. Like I said, he is my friend, my colleague, and my brother. I did not know if he was in the forced labor camp making shoes or if he was in prison, but I miss him.
Is there anything else you would like the audience to know about this situation?
I am not blaming any of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the world because the government and the politics are very different than our Islam. The Muslim world wakes up ready to fight for justice. They are not only praying, but taking action to do good in the world. Islam is about action and some things we can do is boycott goods that are made with forced labor and make sure that we speak out about why we do so.
Genocide against Muslims is escalating across the world. We’re responding on all fronts — from international courts to Congress, the United Nations — but we need your help to win.