One Uighur Man’s Circuitous Journey to Safety

Ablikim Yusup is shown after arriving safely at Washington's Dulles International Airport, Aug. 6, 2019. Photo:RFA

By Andrew McCormick
2020-01-13

Ablikim Yusuf never imagined he would see America. Born in Hotan, an oasis town in arid Xinjiang province, he spent most of his life in China. In 2013 he moved to Pakistan for work, where, until recently, he expected to remain.

But on the second Sunday in August 2019, after a whiplash series of life-altering events, Yusuf, a member of China’s Uighur ethnic minority, stood before some 300 Uighur Americans in Fairfax, Virginia, in a makeshift mosque. It was Eid al-Adha, a day of celebration for Muslims.

Yusuf, who is 54 and slender, wore a blue-striped dress shirt. Speaking in Uighur, he thanked the group for welcoming him and supporting his recent arrival in the United States. He pledged to make good on their kindness. “I will do my best to help my people,” he said.

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