All posts tagged: Xinjiang

This is what the Stanford Prison Experiment would look like if it targeted an entire society

The situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in north-western China has been rapidly deteriorating over the past few years. Local ethnic minorities are targeted by central government’s re-education campaign seeking to sinicize and “normalize” them. Sinopsis interviewed Darren Byler, an anthropologist studying the Uyghurs (currently at the University of Washington) who has recently visited the region to conduct field research. He has been a prominent voice in the international debate about this human rights crisis affecting millions of lives, namely through his website The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia. What follows is an interview about Uyghur history and culture, the oppression from Chinese state and also about the situation of an academic abruptly entering a heated public debate closely related to his studies. Why and when did you get interested in studying Uyghurs? I first became interested in Uyghur society and culture when I visited their homeland in 2003. At the time I was a photography student. I was really taken with the vibrant street life in the Uyghur oasis cities. The courtyard houses …

“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 …

How is Abdukerim Rahman surviving without his books?

For decades there was an inside joke that was told by generations of Uyghur students in the School of Humanities at Xinjiang University. The joke went: “How can you be a doctoral advisor without having a Ph.D. degree?” In response they would say, “Work as hard as Abdukerim Rahman!”  Mr. Rahman is a legendary figure among students and faculty not only for his knowledge but also his humble and caring attitude toward his students. Students know that if a Uyghur language book had been published, it could be found in his home library. Everyone knows that even those books that are not available in the university library can be found there. Mr. Rahman is known for his passionate scholarship, for his love of book. But most importantly students recognize him as the father of Uyghur folklore studies. His humor, inspiration, and positive feedback always encourages their young souls. All folklorists, anthropologists or Uyghur literature researchers who are interested in Uyghur culture view him as an essential resource. His scholarship has become the critical texts in …

“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 …