For China’s embattled Uighurs, a bank transfer abroad can become a ‘terrorism’ ordealSeptember 19, 2019
The Chinese state has come down not once, but twice, on Mayila Yakufu.
First, the 41-year-old insurance company worker was taken away for 10 months of “vocational training” in one of the internment camps China has set up in the mostly-Muslim Xinjiang region as part of an extensive campaign to strip the Uighur minority of its culture and language.
She was out for barely four months before the authorities picked her up again — this time for financing terrorism. Now, the single mother of three is in a prison for criminals, serving a sentence of unknown length.
Uighurs living abroad have started to hear reports of family members being arrested and jailed on suspicion of financing terrorism after sending money to relatives abroad. Those relatives have also had their savings and assets confiscated by the state, they say.
This new and alarming effort appears aimed at keeping Uighurs in China from having any contact with their family members beyond the country’s borders, analysts say.
“The authorities also confiscated all of Mayila’s savings — the equivalent of about $56,000, Nyrola said. It was money she had saved from working three jobs. “They are now targeting people with money so that they can take it,” Nyrola said.
Mayila’s aunt and uncle, 60-year-old Gulebaikeremi Maimutimin and 63-year-old Hasimu Tuoheti, live in constant fear that the children will be taken from them.
Last month, they received notices from the Public Security Bureau that they were being investigated on suspicion of helping finance terrorist activities and illegally possessing articles of extremism.
They trace this action to the fact that their names are associated with the money sent to Australia in 2013 for Mayila’s parents’ house.
“We can prove that this money didn’t go to terrorist activities,” Nyrola said, referring to the bank statements and the housing contract.
Her mother has been busy teaching the children how to cook and shop and look after themselves in case she is jailed, Nyrola said. She has shown them where the winter clothes and bedding are stored and how to turn on the heating once the cold weather arrives.