A Uighur woman living in the Netherlands has gone public about helping to leak secret Chinese government documents regarding human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province because of fears for her safety.
Asiye Abdulaheb told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that she was involved in last month’s leak of papers to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which highlighted the Chinese government's crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang.
The reveal, which followed an earlier document leak to the New York Times, showed how the Chinese government has indoctrinated and punished over a million Muslims, mainly members of the Uighur ethnic minority, in internment camps.
Ms Abdulaheb, 46, told the New York Times that she went public to dissuade Chinese authorities from harming her, her ex-husband Jasur Abibula and the former couple’s two children.
She said that after tweeting an excerpt from the documents in June she received a message on Facebook saying: “If you don’t stop, you’ll end up cut into pieces in the black trash can in front of your doorway.”
Ms Abdulaheb and Mr Abibula are Dutch citizens and have lived in the Netherlands since 2009. Ms Abdulaheb said she had worked in a government office in Xinjiang, and was sent the secret documents electronically by an unnamed source or sources in June.
Mr Abibula was convinced by a Xinjiang-based friend to travel to Dubai in September where, according to Ms Abdulaheb, he was met by Chinese security officials.
They allegedly questioned him for days and attempted to convince him to help them hack his ex-wife’s computer. “I thought that this thing has to be made public,” Ms Abdulaheb said. “The Chinese police would definitely find us. The people in Dubai had told my ex-husband, ‘We know about all your matters. We have a lot of people in the Netherlands.’”
Beijing dismissed the documents as “fake news”, claiming that the internment camps were “re-education centres” built to quell terrorism.
On 3 December the US House of Representatives passed the Uighur Act of 2019 bill, which could lead to sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the abuses.