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Uyghur Prisoners and Detainments Sulayman Aziz

In Xinjiang Autonomous Region, or East Turkestan as native locals know it, the emerging testimonies of human rights abuses have worsened. For years, China has been detaining ethnic Uyghurs (and other minorities) in ‘re-education’ facilities. These concentration camps are estimated to hold between one and three million Muslims, many indefinitely, and most are held without trial. There is no public information surrounding these camps.


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.

Questions and Answers

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.

Quotes and Hashtags

  • A peaceful protest turned violent when the CCP police began to harass the protesters. After sundown, it was speculated that Party supporters set fire to a neighborhood and blamed the protestors to further the narrative of Uyghurs being violent.
  • There were large bribes necessary to acquire passports and it took another year for the passport to come.
  • Aziz Sulayman’s brother, Alim, was not just family, but a colleague and best friend as well. And he was most likely planning for his wedding when he was taken. #SaveUyghurs #FreeTurkestan
  • Alim was a very artistically gifted person, and was making dentures for his brother’s clinic.
  • Chinese officials messed up all of Aziz Sulayman’s paperwork so neither his license to practice dentistry nor his transcripts were transferred to the U.S.
  • The CCP police went to Azhar University during Ramadan during Iftar, and hundreds of people were taken back home. #SaveUyghur
  • Governments like Egypt’s were complicit in the rounding up of the Uyghur people. These majority Muslim countries allowed the Chinese government to capture these people. Some countries are greedy and would turn in their Muslim brothers and sisters for the political gain. #EndMuslimCountryComplicity
  • So many women’s husbands were taken back home and they were left in Turkey.
  • There is no legal recourse in East Turkestan and many attempts to contact people are often met with blocks. #SaveUyghur
  • Another fear is that the concentration camp that Alim may have been taken to was known for organ Harvesting. Quick turnaround for organ orders in China is something that the country has boasted about, while other countries wait for donors to pass before harvesting the organs, China has in the past used death row prisoners and other unwilling participants for speedy surgery. #EndOrganHarvesting #ChineseAccountability
  • Like many other atrocities, China uses the “separatist” or “terrorist” label to brainwash the doctors to perform the organ harvesting on Uyghurs and other unwilling patients. #EndPatriotAct #StopTerroristExcuse
  • China is advertising a halal organ business to specifically rich Middle Eastern countries. They have videos touring facilities with prayer rooms and Qurans on display. #EndMuslimComplicity
  • China’s big selling point is basically organs on demand.
  • China sends spies to work in prestigious Universities.
  • Advocacy projects have cracked down on the collaborations between universities and the CCP, and have caused institutions such as MIT to cut ties with the Party. Some Chinese students are also escaping the CCP and they are advocating for education on the treatment and conditions that religious minorities face when they celebrate Chinese achievements. #SaveUyghur #FreeReligiousMinorities
  • There are Uyghur people all over the world, especially in Turkey and European countries, that are speaking out about their missing loved ones. Some are missing parents, some siblings, some siblings, and some friends. #FreeUyghurs. 
  • China is secretive about a lot of their motivations and they are using the attacks by Western countries as a cover to say that any negative press about them is propaganda.
  • They financially support infrastructure in Eastern countries through the Belt and Road project starting from East Turkestan and expanding through Asia and other countries.
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