An ethnic Uighur man who fled China 10 years ago after the Chinese state brutally quelled a Uighur rebellion has claimed that state agents have pursued him across the world, sending him threats via text messages from New Zealand numbers.

43-year-old Shawudun Abdughupur told AFP that he fled China's Xinjiang region with his wife in 2009 after ethnic violence left over hundreds dead.

He said he first became aware of the state surveillance when he started to receive instructions to stop using Skype and to contact relatives back in Xinjiang on a single number, which could be monitored.

Then during conversations with his 78-year-old mother, who remains in her homeland, she started pressing Abdughupur for information about other Uighurs in New Zealand.

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"Someone pushed her to ask," Abdughupur told AFP. He claims that questions from security services would then come directly to him via text messages and calls.

Ethnic Uighur Shawudun Abdughupur claims that the Chinese state has pursued him across the world. Photo / AFP
Ethnic Uighur Shawudun Abdughupur claims that the Chinese state has pursued him across the world. Photo / AFP

He would hang up, then the threats would come.

"We can find you. We are in New Zealand," the text messages would say.

Then the number he had for his mother was blocked and Abdughupur hasn't spoken to his mother since 2016. He now holds grave fears for her safety.

"At the moment she is 78 years old, she is in a concentration camp," he said.

"I want to know if she is alive or dead."

Rights groups say a million Uighurs and other Muslims are being held in camps in Xinjiang, with reports of detainees being forced to renounce their faith and undergoing psychological torture.

China has consistently denied accusations of human rights abuses in its prison camps, which it describes as "voluntary" re-education schools.

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While people are not allowed to leave and classes are mandatory, it insists attendees want to be there to become better Chinese citizens.