Amnesty Aotearoa throws weight behind NZ woman’s bid to free her brother

For the first time in decades, Amnesty International has launched an Urgent Action campaign with a New Zealand link.

Kiwi, and Fulbright Award holder Rizwangul NurMuhammad is fighting from far away in Aotearoa to have her brother released from a detention camp in China.

NurMuhammad has already collected over on her own petition calling for the release of her brother, Maiwulani Nuermaimaiti.

In addition to Amnesty International’s Urgent Action, an AI petition calling on the Chinese authorities to immediately free Maiwulani has just been launched.

Amnesty International Community Manager Margaret Taylor says the case is core to much of Amnesty’s work advocating for the freedom of oppressed peoples.

“The fight for freedom is something everyone understands and supports. We all want to be free to live our lives, to be with family, free to love and care for our families.”

Margaret Taylor Community Manager Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand

Taylor says Chinese authorities must immediately release Maiwulani.

“This is what injustice looks like. Maiwulani has been detained since 2017 and we see no evidence of the basic things you’d expect in a just process such as regular access to a lawyer of his choice. No information about a trial or evidence of the ‘crime’ he has committed has been made public. He has been sentenced to nine years in prison. His family believe it was for his time studying in Turkey. This is not a crime. His freedom must be returned to him. He must be reunited with his family.”

She says the campaign is strengthened by Riz' determination for justice.

“It's rare for Amnesty NZ to have an Urgent Action with such a strong local angle. And Riz is just the best of big sisters and her strength and perseverance will galvanise fellow New Zealanders to take action with us.”

Margaret Taylor Community Manager Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand


Maiwulani Nuermaimaiti was arrested during his lunch break from work in 2017. He was then sentenced to nine years in prison by Chinese authorities for so-called “Separatist activities” in August 2017.

No evidence against him or information about his trial has ever been made public. Riz believes that he was charged merely for having visited Turkey to study Turkish between 2012 and 2014.

She says he has no interest in politics and is no threat to the state what-so-ever.

“When I think of my brother, Maiwulani, I think of his beautiful face lighting up when he plays with his son. I think of his passion for his work as an IT technician and love for his wife and our mother’s cooking. It’s time to bring my brother home to his family.”

Maiwulani is part of the Uyghur community. Amnesty International estimates the Chinese Government has detained more than one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in “re-education camps” since 2017 — including Maiwulani.

Mailuwani was arrested when his son was only nine months old. He has had four birthdays without his father since. Maiwulani is a loving brother, son and father to a beautiful little boy.

Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s previous work on the detention of Uyghurs can be found here;

Amnesty’s original report: