All posts filed under: History

The Future Of Uyghur Cultural — And Halal — Life In The Year Of The Pig

The Chinese version of the lunar new year came early for Uyghurs in 2019. In mid-January, Uyghurs were asked to begin to write couplets describing their hopes and dreams for the year of the pig. They began practicing their lion and dragon dances. In an unverified screenshot, a Uyghur government official made a public display of dividing up pork and distributing it among villagers near the Muslim-majority town of Ghulja in celebration of the coming year. Many Uyghurs in the diaspora who I spoke with fear that the “pig” in the year of the pig will be all too literal: that this will be the year when Uyghurs in their homeland will be forced to eat pork as yet another way to perform Han-ness, along with being forced to shave off their mustaches. In late 2018, numerous reports emerged from Uyghur Chinese Communist Party members calling on Uyghurs to eat non-halal food. One personal testimony written by a Uyghur official named Shireli Behit noted that Uyghur officials who refused to eat non-halal food were “two-faced” people who were influenced …

A Death Sentence For a Life of Service

Note: This article written by Amy Anderson is based on interviews with Tashpolat Tiyip’s friends, students and relatives. Their identities cannot be revealed due to obvious reasons.  Sometime after he disappeared in 2017,  Tashpolat Tiyip, the president of Xinjiang University, was sentenced to death (with a two year reprieve) in a secret trial.  The Chinese state has provided no justification for this horrifying violation of human rights. Like hundreds of other Uyghur intellectuals, it has simply taken his life away. Drawing on interviews with Tiyip’s students and relatives, this article tells the story of his life and demonstrates the grotesque absurdity of the Chinese totalitarian state. A man who has dedicated his life to furthering the vision of the state and his people appears to have been sentenced to death for this effort. A Geographer with a Dream Tashpolat Tiyip, born in 1958, came of age during the infamous Cultural Revolution during his teenage years. Upon his graduation from high school in 1975, he was asked to join the “Down to the Countryside Movement” and …

“The Uyghurs of Kazakhstan have been pressured into inactivity”

The following is a translation by Gene Bunin of the Azattyq interview of Kakharman Kozhamberdi by Ayan Kalmurat, published in Russian on October 4, 2018. Gene decided to translate it as it answers a question that he often found himself asking during his time in Kazakhstan: “So, where are the local Uyghurs in all this?”  The Kazakhstan Uyghur Association has not been active in searching out relatives arrested in Xinjiang, nor has it made many statements regarding the issue. Azattyq talked to a main advisor of the World Uyghur Congress, Kakharman Kozhamberdi, about the reasons behind this state of affairs. Azattyq: It’s been over a year now that both activists and Chinese Kazakhs have been talking of the “oppression of ethnic minorities” in Xinjiang. However, there does not appear to be any activity among the ethnic Uyghurs in Kazakhstan with regard to this issue. Why is that? Kakharman Kozhamberdi: The reason is the pressure that comes from the law enforcement authorities. As an example, I was taken to administrative court three times [editor’s note: the …

“It was like being in hell.” Accounts of those having been in Chinese camps

This is a translation of an Azattyq article by Нұртай Лахан that was published this past May. It is translated here by Gene Bunin for documentation and “broader consumption” purposes. An additional two Kazakhstan citizens have recounted how they were detained and forcefully placed in so-called “political re-education centers” in China. 38-year-old Orynbek Koksebek was born in China and moved to the Urzhar district of East Kazakhstan Region together with his parents in 2004. He obtained his Kazakhstan citizenship in 2005. On November 22 of last year, he took a trip to the city of Ghulja (Yining) in China, where he was born, in order to carry out his deregistration procedures there. [translator’s potential correction: in my interview with him, he said that he went there out of the curiosity to see his hometown; he also said he went to Chochek and not to Ghulja] “The first time I crossed the border [through the Bakhty crossing],” he recounts, “[the Chinese border guards] asked me if I had completed my deregistration in China. They told that …