Uyghur Update: 10th-17th November

I just had my progress review for my master’s today and they said I am on track to finish my degree (this is my excuse for always being late). Also I am currently doing 2 experiments at once lol okay time to talk about Uyghur news:


The Uyghur Region

A series of photos from David Brophy’s Twitter account looking at daily life for Uyghurs right now. Here’s a teaser:


Part 2 of Darren Byler’s article is out: Love and Fear among Rural Uyghur Youth during the “People’s War”. In it, he describes the sort of police state the Uyghur region has been turned into. The article also contains photography by Eleanor Moseman to represent “…the way love and fear are woven through the everyday lives of two young people, who we call Gulnar and Memetjan, and the community that surrounds them.” The stories and photos are from fieldwork conducted over 2015-2017 and are really… sad… I didn’t realise you could be detained for not using your phone!?

Thousands of young Uyghurs have been arrested for things they have said or written on the Internet or because they are not actively using their phones to communicate with other Uyghurs. Many of them are accused of being “two-faced” (Ch: liang mianzi) people who perform their patriotic duty during political struggle sessions, but then privately complain about government policies with their friends.

Think of the children T_T:

After one of the parents of a child are taken by the police, government workers often come to the family and take the children of the family. This removal of children from the home is referred to as a “Rectification of Islam” policy that is justified by the existence of “extremist” ideology in the home. The child is thus separated from his or her family and raised as a ward of the state. In other cases, after a father is taken, children are immediately sent to live with relatives in order to keep them “safe” from the state. Often, conditions of poverty force the children to work in the cash economy in order to earn their keep as an extra mouth. Reports indicate that the state orphanage system is overrun with children who have been taken from their parents. Many Uyghurs talk about how these children are being housed like animals.  The deepest fear of many of the Uyghur men and women we spoke with was that their children will be taken or left behind in the streets without family.

The effects of detaining so many people:

Some women have been able to escape the poverty of subsistence farming by supplementing their income with skilled labor in the cash economy. Over the duration of “the War,” incomes of Uyghurs have dropped as restrictions of work and travel have intensified and people are detained. At the same time, the need to participate in dance festivals and political celebrations have increased, giving life to some industries while stifling others.

Most Uyghur families in the countryside can only afford to allow one sibling to finish high school and go to college. Other siblings must remain at home, working to provide for the immediate family. Now with so many men gone, those who have not yet been taken behind “the black gate” (qara derwaza) have been forced to work even harder to simply get by, leaving school aspirations behind.

Just read the article before I quote the entire thing here lol. Also, the photos by Eleanor Moseman are beautiful:


Banned books and disappearing TV shows

Bruce Humes writes about how Saipidin Aziz’s books have been banned in China – it seems like people believe he is being recast as a nationalist rather than someone who sided with the CCP.

This is unconfirmed, but it does seem true that TV shows like Yipek Yoli Sadasi (The Voice) are disappearing? They were wildly popular a couple of years ago, and there were plenty of non-Uyghurs on it too, like Elise, an American student, who went viral (and is currently studying muqam – awesome!). I know one of the judges now lives in the US… I wonder if there will be news about sort of thing…

Security and Detention

As mentioned last week, the prerequisites for being considered a religious extremist has been “updated”, and this news has been picked up by UCA News.

Here’s another article looking at the security clampdown in East Turkestan. It’s short and reminds the readers of some of the things that happened earlier in the year.

Kazakh homes are now being invaded by Chinese authorities to confiscate Qurans, prayer mats and other religious items. Kazakh business owners are also being hit by law enforcement.

More news outlets have picked up on Amnesty International’s report that Rebiya Kadeer’s relatives (up to 30) have been detained by China.


Chinese rankings

China has been ranked the worst in the world for Internet freedom as reported by Freedom House.

AP reports on how the human rights situation in China has been worsening since Xi’s rise to power. One researcher describes it as “…the worst since 1989′s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.”




The son of a human rights lawyer in China was barred from leaving the country (to go study in Australia), and his passport cut up in front of him because he would be a “threat to national security”. His mother is a human rights lawyer who was arrested for “subverting state power” – she defended Ilham Tohti, the “Feminist Five” women’s rights group, and followers of Falun Gong.


The Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has decided to stop the publication of a book that criticises the Chinese Communist Party, called Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State by Clive Hamilton, a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University. It seems they have made the decision because they were concerned about “…potential threats to the book and the company from possible action by Beijing” and that the “most serious of these threats was the very high chance of a vexatious defamation action against Allen & Unwin, and possibly against you personally as well” (“you” referring to the author of the book). So China isn’t only censoring foreign publishers inside China, but are also coming on strong to those in foreign countries.


Apparently the surveillance cameras being used in the US are… made in China? I get that it’s business but shouldn’t America be a little more worried? Just a little?

Apparently anything criticising Trump in his visit was blocked on the Chinese internets… Also what the flying fuck is this mess

US Congress wants Chinese journalists to register as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as they are using their journalist status as a “loophole” while spreading propaganda and sending confidential reports to Chinese government agencies.

Middle East

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism released a report on Uyghur foreign fighters. It concluded that it is difficult to know whether the figures are being exaggerated or understated, but that China’s current policies are turning this “Uyghur terrorist” narrative into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Some pictures of Uyghur children receiving aid in Syria


Uyghur Diaspora


The 12th annual InterEthnic/InterFaith Leadership Conference was held in Tokyo, Japan, 14-17 November. The topic of this year’s conference was “Advancing Human Rights, Democracy and Peace: New Tools, New Strategies, New Generation”. The proceedings were broadcast live on YouTube: 1, 2, 3, 4. (The 2nd one is just Steve Bannon so you can probably skip that. The 3rd one has speeches from human rights activists, including Uyghur representatives from USA and Japan).


The 6th General Assembly of the World Uyghur Congress opened on the 10th November 2017 in Munich, Germany. You can read more about that here and here. Apparently China continues to pressure Germany to stop the meetings somehow. I guess they elected new people? It looks really… male… *sigh*


ETAA held their annual celebration of East Turkestan National Day at Thorndon Park, Adelaide. You can watch some of the speeches and performances through these links (Facebook live videos): Welcome & Quran recitation, Australian anthem, Uyghur anthem, Nurmuhammad Turkistani, Michael Atkinson, Uighur Mektep Dance (Uyghur Qizi), Uyghur Mektep poem recitation (National Anthem), Auction 1, 2, 3, Aghamcha Tartish 1, 2, 3. I don’t think he got all of the speeches but in any case, looks like it was a lot of fun!

The Uighur Language School of SA was featured in RFA! Recently they performed at the Children’s Week Parade, which they have been doing since the 90s. (I performed there from when I was about 4 to 13!) In the interview they discuss how there are a number of Chinese schools who also perform at the Parade, but for some years they have been performing Uyghur dances instead of their own culture. The school wrote a complaint to the Ethnic Schools Board and they haven’t performed an Uyghur dance since, which is nice. The schools should be teaching their own ethnicities’ language and culture, why would Mandarin schools be teaching Uyghur dance? Anyway, the interview also goes on to discuss why it is important to retain the happier parts of our culture while so much negativity and oppression is happening, and why we should be teaching our kids. Clearly, if we don’t practice our culture, the Chinese will just claim it as theirs!


Fun stuff

Found this neat video of a guy singing local Uyghur folk songs from Qumul, Turpan, Lopnur, Kucha, Qaghiliq, Khoten, Dolan, Atush, Kashgar, Ghulja, Turpan… yeah he does Turpan twice lol?



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