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Streaming Mainstreaming Stories: A Day of Solidarity with Uyghurs

On April 26, scholars will hold a series of events called “Mainstreaming Stories: A Day of Solidarity with Uyghurs” at locations around the world. In twelve locations they will discuss the ongoing state of emergency in the Uyghur and Kazakh homelands.

These events on three continents will offer students and communities members a chance to hear and discuss the evidence of the mass internment of as many as 1.5 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs and the effects and implications of this mass trauma. It will also give audiences a chance to get involved in actively opposing these processes.

For all of you who won’t be able to make it to one of those locations, but still want to hear directly from scholars and Uyghur community members about what is happening in Northwest China, you can join the event at 12:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, April 26, 2019, by following this link. The Uyghur activist Halmurat Harri will be addressing the global audience at this time.

If you would like more information on the situation and ways to get involved beyond Halmurat’s keynote address, below is an expertly edited and recorded video of an event that took place on Saturday, April 20, 2019, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies.

This conference aimed to present the police state in China, where as many as 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have been forced into internment camps since 2016. It explored China’s use of technology to escalate the crisis by conducting digital, biological, and cyber surveillance on the Uyghur. It introduced the biopolitics of China’s “war on terror” in countering Uyghur people as an ethnicity; and it attempted to open a dialogue on our role as leaders, educators, and technologists in engaging with China while being aware of its massive human rights violations.

The conference begins with a moving introduction featuring conference organizer and Uyghur MIT undergraduate Zulkayde Mamat (30:54). This is followed by a talk from Sean Roberts on the introduction of the “war on terror” discourse in China and the way it has been used to label the Uyghurs as an ethnic group (50:30). Darren Byler picks up the narrative to discuss the economic drivers of the Chinese colonization of the Uyghurs and the way technology has been used to assist this project (01:15:06). Rian Thum then discusses the evidence we have of the massive build out of the internment camp system and the systems that support it by looking at satellite imagery, government documents, and detainee testimonies (01:41:30). This is followed by a Q&A with the speakers where they discuss the way these systems are connected to earlier population management programs in China, why Uyghurs are treated differently than other minorities among other topics.

The next panel (01:57:21) features Jessica Batke speaking about the way the evidence discussed in the earlier panel have been used to estimate the effects of the “reeducation” system (02:12:29). Gene A. Bunin then discusses the complexities of the “reeducation” system and the victims database he has built with Kazakh and Uyghur volunteers. He also speaks about the ways in which the system can be contested in focused ways (02:41:20). This is followed by talk from Joi Ito about the implication of what is happening to the Uyghurs and the futures of surveillance technology in general (02:58:49). This is followed by a Q&A with the three speakers that ranges from specific actions that can be carried out in response to the state of emergency to the role institutions like MIT should play in counteracting the large-scale human rights abuses.

The cosponsors of this event were the MIT Center for International Studies, Radius at MIT, Harvard University’s Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, MIT Student Activities Office, MIT CIS Human Rights and Technology Program

The event was held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 9:30am to 1:30pm at MIT Building 32, Kirsch Auditorium, Room 123 (Stata Center) 32 VASSAR ST, Cambridge, MA 02139

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