Abudujilili Supi

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A member of China's most persecuted minority was arrested for no clear reason, and his family fears he's going to be deported to China

Alexandra Ma Sep. 28, 2018, 5:30 AM


Abudujilili Supi, a Chinese Muslim Uighur who was arrested in the United Arab Emirates and whose family fears will be deported to China. Courtesy of Mijiti Yisake

Abudujilili Supi, a Chinese Muslim of the persecuted Uighur ethnic minority, was arrested for no clear reason in the United Arab Emirates last week.

His family fears that he was arrested for being Uighur, and that he will be deported to China and imprisoned there.

His wife witnessed the entire arrest, and has since fled to Turkey. Supi's brother, who is currently with her, told Business Insider what happened.

This is one of the first cases of a Uighur family in the Gulf region speaking out about an arrest and potential deportation to China.

A man belonging to China's persecuted Muslim Uighur community was arrested for no apparent reason last week, an act which his family fears is down to his ethnicity and could see him deported to China and punished.

Abudujilili Supi, a Chinese citizen living and working in the United Arab Emirates, was arrested by four men outside his local mosque last Thursday, Supi's brother Mijiti Yisake told Business Insider in a series of WhatsApp messages.

He says Supi's captors — it is not clear whether they are police — told him he will be taken to China. Yisake fears that if his brother is deported to China, he will be imprisoned in a detention center or re-education camp.

Rights groups have accused China of imprisoning up to 1 million Uighurs in such camps in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where some 8 million Uighurs live.


Abudujilili Supi's passport photo, as supplied by his brother Mijiti Yisake. Business Insider has redacted some of the personal information. Courtesy of Mijiti Yisake; Business Insider

The arrest

Supi's wife, a Muslim Uighur named Mayila Xianmuxiding, witnessed the arrest from their apartment, which overlooked the mosque. She described the incident to Yisake, who relayed details to Business Insider.

According to Xianmuxiding, Supi entered the Abdullah Bin Rawahah Mosque in Sharjah, a city northwest of Dubai, for daily prayers around 4 p.m. and left around 4:20 p.m.

While Supi was praying, his wife said four men who looked Emirati were waiting outside the mosque for prayers to end. Xianmuxiding doesn't know how long they were waiting there — she said she had been praying at home around the same time her husband was at the mosque, and only looked out when she was done.

After Supi exited the mosque, she said the four men approached her husband, grabbed his arms, and bundled him into a small white car. It all happened quickly, Yisake said, citing his sister-in-law.

Xianmuxiding thought the four men who approached her husband were fellow worshippers at the mosque at first, she said. She said she didn't realise who they were until the mosque's cleaner told her the four men were Emirati police.

Business Insider has not been able to establish who the men were, and the Emirati government has not responded to questions.

sharjah mosque arrest

The Abdullah Bin Rawahah Mosque in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, where Abudujilili Supi was arrested, according to his family. Google Maps/Business Insider

"I am going with people"

Supi called Xianmuxiding three days after the arrest, on Monday.

"Please travel to another country," he told his wife, according to Yisake. "I am going with people. I don't know where I am going. They said to me, 'You will be returned to China.'"

Supi didn't specify who the "people" were — his family thinks he meant the police.

That was the last time Supi and his wife spoke.

Xianmuxiding has since fled to Istanbul, Turkey, where she remains with her brother-in-law Yisake. "She is feeling very sad about her husband," Yisake told Business Insider.