Author: Darren Byler

Sealed Doors And ‘Positive Energy’: COVID-19 In Xinjiang

Recently a young Han man from Xinjiang who I will call Wu Yi told me a joke his friends in Ürümchi have been repeating since the end of January: “When will people in Xinjiang be allowed to go outside? When the last patient in Wuhan is cured.” Wu Yi and his friends have been grumbling about the way they’re losing money. The addition of checkpoints in 2017 already made it difficult to do business: Wu Yi, who grew up in an affluent family in the city, said his father had to meet business partners from Kazakhstan in places like Shanghai or Beijing. Now even that was impossible. Since January 27, five days before Huanggang, Hubei Province was locked down, Wu Yi’s family has been permitted to leave their apartments only twice per week. Everything is controlled by the auxiliary police (协警 xiéjǐng) and the neighborhood watch office. “Since there was already such a huge police force in Xinjiang for the ‘terrorism’ problem, it was easy for them to lock all of us up,” he said. …

Scenes from the Disappearance of Perhat Tursun, a Preeminent Modernist Uyghur Author

Perhat was disappeared at the height of his powers by the Chinese state, a victim of the government’s re-education campaign in Xinjiang. Perhat Tursun is a slight man with a receding hairline. To look at him, you wouldn’t know that he is one of the most influential contemporary Uyghur authors in the world. When I met him for the first time at a reception for a Uyghur-language publishing house in February 2015, his importance was clear from the way other Uyghurs looked at him as he moved through the crowd. He cut a wide swath. After we chatted for a bit at the reception, he said he was really bored. He hated formal gatherings and performing for strangers. He left immediately after the ceremony was finished, glad-handing and mumbling under his breath as he shuffled through the banquet hall. Many people stopped to shake his hand as we walked together to his house. His house was on the 26th floor of a new apartment building owned by the Uyghur grocery franchise Arman. Many Uyghur celebrities lived in the …

Xinjiang Action List

People often ask me what they can do to engage the issues confronting the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Hui in Northwest China. Here is a list of action items for people who want to get evolved in the United States. Contact Your Congress Members  The Human Rights Policy Act is currently awaiting ratification by the Senate. This bill will leverage sanctions on companies and key leaders who have been implicated in the camp system, and mandate a detailed congressional report on the global supply chain that supports these atrocities. Call your Senator and ask them to ratify Senate Bill 178.  Send a message to your Members of Congress using this action alert, and share it. Join Grassroots Movements Boycott and divest from companies and investment funds that profit from Turkic Muslim suffering. As much as 84 percent of the cotton used in Chinese made garments is sourced in the Uyghur region of China. For a report on the Fortune 500 companies that are connected to the Uyghur homeland follow this link. For a report on the …

Reeducation Time: A Decade Of Stories Of Loss In Xinjiang

All names in this story have been changed to protect the identities of the interviewees. I met Ablikim for the first time in late 2014 at a Uyghur house party in a neighborhood in Southern Ürümchi. He was a thin man with a closely-trimmed moustache. He sat hunched over, his shoulders drawn in. We told each other our names, but I wasn’t really sure how to place him. Over the course of the evening, he sat in the corner quietly, his eyes darting around the room. It wasn’t until much later, when we were walking to our homes side-by-side, that he began to speak. He said he didn’t like speaking in groups because he didn’t like talking openly with strangers. Like many of the young Uyghurs I interviewed over the course of the past decade, Ablikim had been deeply affected by his encounters with police and Han society. In the months that followed, Ablikim and I became close friends. We met nearly every day to drink tea, read novels, and talk about his job search …