Australian Uighur family reunited after leaving Xinjiang

Mr Sadam Abudusalamu posted on Twitter photographs of his family arriving at Sydney airport on Dec 10. PHOTOS: SMUSAPIR/TWITTER

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - An Australian man from China's Muslim Uighur community was reunited with his family, including a three-year-old son he had never met, after Beijing agreed they could depart Xinjiang.

Mr Sadam Abudusalamu posted on Twitter photographs of his family arriving at Sydney airport on Thursday (Dec 10) and thanked Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, human rights activists, and "everyone who worked so hard to reunite us".

In 2017, Chinese authorities banned Mr Abudusalamu's wife Nadila Wumaier and son from leaving Xinjiang by confiscating their passports, in what became a high-profile human rights case in Australia.

Mr Abdusalamu had gone to Australia as a student over a decade ago, and married Ms Wumaier in Xinjiang in 2016. Their son Lufty was born in Xinjiang, and granted Australian citizenship in 2019, after Mr Abdusalamu urged the Australian government to help the family.

In February, after China's deputy head of mission in Australia, Mr Wang Xining, said on ABC Television that Ms Wumaier didn't want to leave Xinjiang, she posted a photograph to Twitter holding a sign saying "I want to leave and be with my husband".

Ms Payne said in July the Australian embassy in Beijing had formally requested the Chinese authorities allow Ms Wumaier, a Chinese citizen, to leave.

China has been criticised at the United Nations Human Rights Council by countries including Australia and the United States for the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. China has rejected the criticism.

The family's lawyer Michael Bradley confirmed that Lufty, three, and his mother had arrived from China two weeks ago, and had flown to Sydney on Thursday after quarantining at a hotel in Brisbane.

Mr Bradley, who was at the airport, said Mr Abudusalamu was overjoyed to see his wife, and meet his son.

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

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