Author: Darren Byler (雷风)

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and the Chinese “De-extremification” Campaign: Interview with Darren Byler

A version of this interview first appeared in the online journal Voices on Central Asia in English and the Central Asian Analytic Network in Russian. It is republished here with permission. Hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, as well as representatives of other Muslim nations living in China’s Xinjiang province, have faced religious restrictions and persecution by the authorities in recent years. Oppression has taken on a particularly large-scale character of late, with Uyghurs being forced to go through so-called “re-education camps.” The Chinese authorities justify their actions as security measures, while the international community claims that the rights of these religious and national minorities are being violated on a massive scale. The Living Otherwise project, founded by a group of young experts, is actively engaged in covering what is happening with Uyghurs in China. Dr. Darren Byler, who runs the platform, offers some insight into Islamophobia in China. Please tell us about Living Otherwise : The website I curate, LivingOtherwise.com, is a public-facing aspect of my doctoral research as an anthropologist at the University of Washington. By …

The stories of Kazakhstan citizens arrested in China

Translated by Gene Bunin on August 23, 2018; Republished with Permission The following is an English translation of an article published by Нұртай Лахан for Azattyq in the January of 2018. Though old, I found it quite insightful and as such have decided to translate it. It covers the stories of Omirbek Ali, Orynbek Koksebek, and Asqar Azatbek – all Kazakhstan citizens who had been arrested in China and sent to camps / detention centers at some point over the past two years. Omirbek had already been released when this article aired. Orynbek has been released since, in the March of this year. Asqar, taken in the special economic zone at Korgas, is still missing. News of a crackdown on ethnic Kazakhs in China have been coming in starting from April 2017. Among those detained are also those who had moved to their historical homeland from China and had already managed to obtain Kazakhstan citizenship. Omirbek Bekaly was born in China in 1970, in Turpan’s Pichan (Shanshan) County. In 2006, he moved from China to …

A Petition for “the Disappeared” in the Uyghur & Kazakh Homelands in China

By Darren Byler and Tahir Hamut with the support of Concerned Scholars of Xinjiang Also available in Uyghur (ئۇيغۇرچە) & Chinese (中文) Based on mounting evidence it is clear that the Chinese state is engaging in the extrajudicial systematic mass detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities. This process resonates with the most horrific moments in modern history. Such processes have resulted in generational trauma and social elimination. They shattered families, destroyed native forms of knowledge and, at times, resulted in mass death. We call on Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chen Quanguo, Chinese Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, to immediately abolish the “transformation through education” detention system and release all Uyghur and Kazakh detainees and prisoners that have been “disappeared” without due process or legal representation. Provide complete and open transparency regarding the location of all detainees and facilitate an immediate process of freeing and reunifying them with their children and their loved ones. Release of all Uyghur and Kazakh intellectuals and prisoners of conscience.  Allow Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other minorities …

Navigating Checkpoints in the Uyghur Homeland

On a visit in April 2018 to the Uyghur homeland in Northwest China I was amazed by the number of checkpoints that turn every city and town into a maze of ethno-racial profiling and ID scans. In some areas, the checkpoints are every several hundred meters. The checkpoints are only for those who pass as Uyghur. Han folks and obvious foreigners are usually directed to walk through the exits of the checkpoints with the wave of a hand. The checkpoints are not for them. Since 2009 there have been a number of large-scale violent incidents involving Uyghurs, state security and Han Chinese civilians. Since 2014 the state has conducted a so-called People’s War on Terror that has subjected Uyghurs between the ages of 15-45 to intense scrutiny. As a result of this campaign, the state has detained hundreds of thousands of young Uyghurs in a reeducation camp system while radically increasing the police presence. At the checkpoint exiting the highspeed rail station in Turpan I observed the way “native” (Uy: yerlik) people were directed through two long lines to have their IDs …