All posts tagged: Kazakhstan

A Road to Forgetting: Friendship and Memory in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

In the midst of the mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz in the so-called ‘reeducation camps’ in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, a Sino-Kazakh coproduction based on the life of Chinese musician Xian Xinghai is close to release. The Composer portrays the friendship between Xian—the mind behind the Yellow River Cantata and On the Taihang Mountains, classic patriotic ‘red’ songs that every middle school student in China learns to sing—and a Kazakh composer named Bakhitzhan Baykadamov. It is not the first time that the life of Xian has been depicted on the silver screen. Previous iterations include a film directed by Wang Hengli in 1994 and a TV drama directed by Duan Guoping in 2005, both of which were entitled Xian Xinghai and mostly depicted his years studying in Paris and his transformation into a ‘people’s musician’ (人民音乐家). Now that Kazakhstan is one of the most strategic partners of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is not surprising that The Composer focuses instead on Xian’s life in Kazakhstan. The film was originally inspired by Xi Jinping’s 2013 keynote speech at Nazarbayev …

Gene A. Bunin: On Xinjiang, Atajurt, and Serikjan

A video and transcript from Gene A. Bunin on the contribution of the organization Atajurt and its founder Serikjan Bilash to understanding what is happening to Uyghurs and Kazakhs in China and why they must be protected. Thanks to some volunteers who were willing to sacrifice their time and skills the video archive of Atajurt is now safely stored in a third location. All right. Big hello to everybody. My name is Gene Bunin (for those not aware). It is currently 11:07 at night – 11:08 – in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and I am here, I am in good health, and I am recording this video on my own free will (regardless of what Western media might tell you). Now, the reason I’m recording this video, which is very unusual for me… I think people who read what I write or generally follow what I do probably know that I don’t really record videos, I just write. And I would prefer to write. And here I am going to make a sort of rare exception. This is …

‘As If You’ve Spent Your Whole Life In Prison’: Uyghurs Starving & Subdued

When Chinese state authorities prepared to release Gulbahar Jelil (Gulbakhar Jalilova), an ethnically Uyghur woman born and raised in Kazakhstan, they told her that she was forbidden to tell anyone about what she had experienced over the one year, three months, and 10 days in which she had been detained. She was not to mention the stench and sickness that hounded her, and pervaded her crowded cell. But most critically, the prison workers stressed that she not talk about the food she had been served. They told her to get her story straight regarding her starvation diet: She was not to mention that she and others had received only about 600 calories per day — equivalent to two or three plain bagels— and that she had lost close to 50 pounds over the course of her detention. “You will eat more food now, since you will soon be released,” they said. They told her that the food she had been given and the filth that she had lived in — a cell with an open-air toilet and 30 unwashed bodies pressed together — were a thing of the past. It was a nightmare that she should put behind her. …

“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 …