The 18-month-old boy’s Australian father is fighting to be reunited with his family.
An 18-month-old Australian boy is trapped in China, and his father in Sydney fears he will be taken away from his mother and sent to a state-run orphanage unless he can find a way to get him out of the country.
The boy, whose case is being reported for the first time here, was recently granted Australian citizenship. He is the youngest Australian thought to be caught up in China’s brutal campaign of repression targeting Uighur Muslims in the country’s west and is among just a handful of such cases that are publicly known.
The boy’s mother, a Uighur who holds Chinese citizenship, was detained by Chinese authorities shortly after she gave birth in August 2017. She was only released a few days later because she was breastfeeding.“For more than a year now I haven’t given up. My hope is not dead yet.”
She now faces being jailed or interned in one of the many sprawling “political education” camps in China’s far west region of Xinjiang, where upwards of 1 million Uighur Muslims are being held without charge, subject to indoctrination and abuse.
Her husband, a 28-year-old Uighur Australian who is the boy’s father, is fighting a desperate battle with Australian and Chinese authorities to be reunited with his wife — who does not have Australian citizenship — and the son he has never met. Based on what Chinese authorities have told his wife, he believes that if he does not bring his son to Australia soon, the boy could be dispatched to a state-run orphanage, like many other children of Uighur migrants and detainees.
The man agreed to be identified by his initial, S. BuzzFeed News is withholding S.’s name and the names of his family members at his request because he fears naming them could endanger their security. His story has been corroborated using both public and private Australian immigration and citizenship records, correspondence, and family photographs.
“For more than a year now I haven’t given up. My hope is not dead yet,” he told BuzzFeed News by phone from Sydney. “Until I see my wife and son, I will not give up.”