Uyghur Australian woman breaks her silence as her husband is sentenced to 25 years in a Chinese jail in XinjiangApril 19, 2021
Melbourne woman Mehray Mezensof has been married for five years, but her husband has been absent for most of that time.
Instead, he has been in and out of detention centres and concentration camps multiple times in China’s far north-western region of Xinjiang.
After marrying in Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital city, Ms Mezensof applied for an Australian visa for Mr Taher. The visa was granted on April 1, 2017 . . . The couple’s worst fears were realised on the night of April 10, when police came knocking.
“They confiscated my husband’s passport and one of the first things they asked was, had my husband travelled overseas,” Ms Mezensof recalled.
“Prior to us getting married, my husband travelled to Turkey and he lived and worked there for about a year so.
“So hearing that straightaway, they were just like, OK, we have to continue this at the police station, and then they took him out.”
He did not return that night. It was the last time Ms Mezensof saw her husband for more than two years.
After being questioned by local police for three days, Mr Taher was taken to a detention centre for 10 months before transferring to a concentration camp.
Mr Taher was unexpectedly released on May 22, 2019, Ms Mezensof said . . . Mr Taher told her what had occurred behind the high walls of the concentration camp.
“He said it was constant brainwashing … it just sounded crazy,” Ms Mezensof said.
“Learning about the Chinese Communist Party, reading books, and memorising speeches.
“After they released him, police officials were still keeping a really close eye on him.
“They pretty much called him whenever they got the chance. It was constant surveillance.”
[O]n the morning of May 19, 2020, Ms Mezensof noticed something was up: her messages went unanswered for hours.
“I was freaking out … every time I’d text, he’d always get back to me,” she recalled.
“I was constantly calling him and video calling him, and he just wouldn’t answer.
“Then that was when I found out that [police] had come in and taken him again.”
She said her husband was detained again on that day and allegedly taken to a camp until August 30, 2020 . . . But only weeks later, Mr Taher was detained for a third time.
7.30 has seen a notice of arrest issued by Hami police in Xinjiang on October 23, 2020.
According to the notice, Mr Taher was arrested for the alleged crime of “organising, leading and participating in terrorist organisation” and was detained in Yizhou District’s detention centre in Hami, south-east of the capital city Urumqi.
. . .
“My husband had been sentenced to 25 years prison by the [Chinese Communist Party], all because of time that he spent in Turkey,” she said.
“In their eyes, what they’ve convicted him of is separatism. What they’ve got on him is that when he went to Turkey, [they claim] he basically organised and participated in these kinds of political activities to try and establish an independent country.”
“It’s just outrageous. The whole reason he went to Turkey was for a holiday, and he ended up really liking it there, so that’s why he decided to live and work there for a little bit.”