Uyghur Update: May 2018

A monthly update… a late monthly update… in my defense there’s been a lot of coverage in the media lately…

 

In the Uyghur Region

Forced Marriage

Uyghur women are being coerced into marriages with Han Chinese. If they refuse, they and their families may be detained or sent to re-education. This has been covered by: AJ+ Francais and Arabic, Taiwan News, Asia Times, TomoNews US. There are pictures floating around on Facebook, Facebook, and a video of a man crying about how if his daughter doesn’t accept the marriage proposal of a Han Chinese, the family will be thrown into re-education. Unverified Facebook post with another example… then again, it’s difficult to verify anything… They sing the Chinese anthem at weddings too…

Re-education Camps/Prison

More religious scholars, Abdulehed Mehsum and Allaamah Abdulahatkhan Makhdom have passed away in the camps. Previously I talked about Dr Halmurat Ghopur being detained. Apparently he has passed away in prison. This Facebook post also notes that his name may also be erased from some of his scientific publications.

A literature professor has been detained. More elderly are being taken into re-education where they are dying. A student returning from Malaysia has been detained. Imams and businessmen all being sent to prison. They’re donating cellphones to residents…

China is branding the re-education camps as “free medical treatment” for people with “unhealthy minds”: Facebook. They also say they are allowing people to learn the constitution in “interesting ways”: Global Times. But two Uyghur civil servants were jailed for 11 years for not showing enough “enthusiasm” and not sending people to re-education: RFA. Doctors seem to have been told to diagnose sick people as healthy so that police can fill their camp quotas. Here are some photos of the camps. They’re really not hiding it

Shawn Zhang released a list of re-education camps found using satellite images from Google Earth. You can keep up-to-date with him on Twitter as he finds more re-education camps, for example here where he finds 15 more in Ghulja. Here is more proof and PDFs of the existence of these camps.

Miscellaneous

Here’s a story of a mother who died trying to get to a flag raising ceremony.

More photos of knives chained to tables of restaurants and food carts because the Chinese government suspects all Uyghurs of being a potential threat.

Apparently many (if not all?) ethnic minority teachers have been fired from their jobs: ChinaAid. Here’s a notification released in April saying “double-faced personals” will be detained, aka people who don’t speak Chinese.

Religion

Here, UHRP summarises China’s new policies/White Paper on the control of religion (released in April, 2018). This article talks about how religious symbols are being removed from Hui places – and how rolling out policies effective in ET would be disastrous. Obviously Ramadan is banned: China Aid. Here’s an interview with Salih Hudayar on the fasting ban. Here’s video of Uyghurs drinking alcohol during Ramadan. Here’s an article on China’s “war against Islam“. Here’s a video of Rebiya Kadeer talking about the restrictions on religious freedoms by Freedom Collection. All mosques need to raise the Chinese flag.

During the month of Ramadan, WUC has been releasing posts on social media about the religious repression happening in East Turkistan. You can see it on Twitter or Instagram.

 

Surveillance/Security

Reuters:

A big selling point of the technology, according to one policeman from the restive far western region of Xinjiang who was eyeing a Hisign scanner, was its claimed ability to get data from Apple Inc’s iOS operating system, used in products like the widely popular iPhone.

“We are actually using these kinds of scanners in Xinjiang already, but I am interested in this one as it claims to be more successful with iOS phones than other brands,” said the policeman, surnamed Gu, who traveled 3,000 kilometers to attend the fair. He declined to provide his given name.

More than a billion dollars has been spent on surveillance in the region alone.

German citizen Osman Tursun told RFA that the Chinese government had asked him to spy on the Uyghur diaspora, holding his 3 sons in re-education camps as blackmail.

Human Rights Watch released a short video on how Chinese officials are living with Uyghur families to keep watch on their behaviour. Here is the accompanying article. This was also covered by CNN and RFA.

Apparently there seems to be bomb drills happening in Korla and other cities…

A report on how Bingtuan has tightened its grip on areas like Hotan through land reclamation and demographic dilution: Financial Times

 

In The News

Two pieces of news opened the floodgates for reporting on re-education camps this month. Firstly, Adrian Zenz came out with a paper that detailed evidence showing the re-education camps were real: “Thoroughly Reforming them Toward a Healthy Heart Attitude” – China’s Political Re-Education Campaign in Xinjiang. You can see more of his thoughts/a summary/link to the full report on his Twitter thread (his Twitter is also pretty great for evidence of what is happening in ET). Second was this interview with Omir Bekali, a Kazakh man who was placed in prison for 7 months and then into a re-education camp before being released. He describes how he was tortured and the types of threats they used against him to ‘confess’ to crimes he didn’t commit. Another interview with Kayrat Samarkand echoes the same sort of unprecedented torture they faced. You can read this Twitter thread by Gerry Shih for more information. Since these interviews came out, more news orgs have been talking about the re-education camps: New York Times, The Globe and MailBusiness InsiderThe InterpreterChina Digital TimesDaily Mail, The Independant, ABC, TRT World (video), Daily O, Albawaba

The Economist ran a very comprehensive article on what is happening to Uyghur people (also in print): Apartheid with Chinese Characteristics. They also ran another article comparing China’s digital police state to what’s happening in the West, and how to deal with it.

The Washington Post is calling it a “repugnant campaign to destroy a minority people”. National Review is saying this is a state of emergency. National Review also posted a fairly scathing article that I’m surprised I didn’t write myself. Reuters describes it a pity that we aren’t paying more attention to what is happening, as well as an “Orwellian nightmare“.

David Brophy released an article outlining the history and current situation, and proposed an alternative approach to improving the political situation.

Jessica Batke writes about the complex leadership structure that is responsible for the mass detention of Uyghurs.

Aydin Anwar released an article describing the situation in East Turkistan, along with interviews with refugees in Turkey who had been detained in Chinese prisons.

Nury A. Turkel was interviewed in the Q & A podcast at the Ricochet Podcast Summit, hosted by Jay Nordlinger, titled: The New Gulag in China

Tom Cliff (author of Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang) outlines the situation again, this time drawing a comparison to the historical figure Wang Zhen, and poses the question: why? Unfortunately there is no answer.

Megha Rajagopalan gave a talk about how China’s mass surveillance is affecting Uyghurs at the Oslo Freedom Forum. She also gave an interview about the challenges of foreign correspondence in China.

Radio Free Asia released a short explanatory video on China’s repression on Uyghurs.

Aftenpoften, a Norwegian news press, also talked about re-education camps.

A news program in Turkey ran a 20-min long section with Uyghur guests on their Kanal 7 Iftaar Saati. The guests spoke on what is happening to Uyghurs right now and how their families are in re-education camps.

The Quartz put out an interesting article on the connection between “terrorism” and the Uyghur people. While the history is interesting, and I agree that China is helping to create the terrorist threat that they used to falsely claim, I don’t agree that Uyghur terrorism is a “genuine reason to fear”. ISIS isn’t going to attack China any time soon and I fear that these Uyghur kids are only going to be used to further their own agenda rather than fight China.

WashDiplomat published a piece on the April protests in Washington DC.

 

Detainment of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in “re-education camps” and the response of the diaspora

As more and more Uyghurs are detained, Uyghurs in the diaspora have been speaking out. Halmurat Harri Uyghur is one, and you can see his blog here, and his videos on his Facebook page. Women from France created a video during Mother’s Day. A doctor from Hong Kong expresses her support. Zumret Tursun has been posting a lot of live videos calling people to action. There are many more Facebook Live videos of Uyghurs speaking out, and more Uyghur-news-related Instagram and Twitter accounts surfacing now.

Talk to East Turkistan also posts and re-posts regularly about some of these stories, for example here. Follow them for daily updates on what is happening.

KJ Vids has started a “Voice of Uyghurs” campaign where Uyghurs can anonymously submit stories of what is happening to them.

If you have stories you would like to submit to Human Rights Watch, contact me through Instagram or Twitter.

Kazakh people whose relatives have been detained have been calling on the Kazakhstan government (or anyone) to do something about it, for example here, here, here (with Salih Hudayar speaking on behalf of her), here. Since then, Kazakh people have protested in front of the Chinese embassy in Almaty and Astana has apparently asked Beijing to release Kazakh citizens from the camps. Kazakh news has also interviewed ex-detainees.

 

Western Responses to China

Various opinion pieces have surfaced in the wake of all the news of China’s abuses against Uyghurs, human rights activists and their relatives, as well as their growing power and influence in various countries like New Zealand, America and Australia.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released another document describing their deep concern for the repression of Uyghurs.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China respectively, released another letter, this time about selling surveillance technology to China. This was summarised in WSJ.

Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-IL) and James P. McGovern (D-MA), Co-Chairs of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, addressed the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights on the human rights situation – you can see the video and article here: Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

The U.S. Department of State: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor invited Zubayra Shamseden and Omer Kanat from UHRP to discuss Uyghur human rights in their Facebook live series: #HumanRightsHeroes.

Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom of the U.S. Department of State, Sam Brownback, talked about Uyghurs and re-education camps while responding to questions regarding whether the US Government takes human rights into consideration when considering trade between the US and China.

US Congressman Chris Smith gave China a failing grade for religious freedom and has been designated a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

The language seems to have shifted to describing what is happening now to something similar to Russian Gulags and South African apartheid rather than Nazi concentration camps. The Orwellian state continues to be used, but more in the sense of “this would give even Orwell nightmares”.

 

WUC

A good interview with Dolkun Isa after the Brussels protests last month: Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

On May 15th, WUC attended a meeting with the European Parliament. You can find the meeting agenda here and a video here.

On May 22nd (New York), Ambassador Kelley Currie strongly rebutted China’s attempt to defame Uyghur activist Dolkun Isa and their efforts to revoke UN credentials of the Society for Threatened Peoples at the United Nations. I recommend listening to it… it’s refreshing to say the least. Here’s the full video of the proceedings. Here’s an article summary. The US rejected China’s attempt to remove him from the UN.

Omer Kanat spoke on DW News about Omir Bekali’s case and Chinese policies.

WUC is holding some sort of contest revolving around our National Anthem, for anyone who wants to enter: Facebook. Also I feel like I mentioned it before but they have a video news series now.

 

Sherqi Turkistan Milliy Oyghunush (East Turkistan National Awakening)

A new group has been formed in the US, mostly by youth, and headed by Salih Hudayar (at least, he is the most outspoken member). The name had been floating around for a few months but they have become much more active this May. One of their first actions will be a protest held on the 4th of June:

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It is supported by the Lantos Foundation, Rebiya Kadeer, Anwar Yusuf Turani, and many Uyghurs around the world (with Facebook videos of youth from around the world extending their support to Salih Hudayar and urging Uyghurs to wake up and stand up: x x x). The protest will continue every day (in smaller groups) until Congress passes legislation.

 

 

Conferences

Symposium on the Identity Crisis of Uyghurs Today by UAA, Uyghur Academy, and UHRP was held on Friday, May 25th, 2018 at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies. You can find some of their proceedings and videos on Facebook.

When the Government Defines You: China and the Uyghurs by Forum on International Affairs (FIA) was held on May 31st, 2018 in Washington DC. Guest speakers included Nicole Morgret, Zubayra Shamseden and Louisa Greve.

“The Uyghur Diaspora and China”, “Uyghur Cybernationalism”, and “Uyghur Nationalist Movements and political manoeuvering in Japan” at The Association for the Study of Nationalities. You can see a summary here.

 

Outside of Politics

Here’s a cute video of a little Uyghur girl in Japan playing piano to a theatre audience.

I’m not sure what he’s saying, but here’s a video of Kashgar in 2017: YouTube

Check out Subhi Bora and her team in this video on ABC and how they created hijabi dolls, Salam Sisters.

Tahir Hamut’s poems were published (translated by Joshua L Freeman) in Asymptote Journal. Here are more poetry by the duo, published by Duration Press.

2lt. Shepket G. Tohti was recognised by the US army on their Facebook page during their Asian-American and Pacific Islanders awareness month. His picture displayed the East Turkistan flag with the US flag!

Abdusalam Abdureshit (“Abudushalamu Abudurexiti”) might be drafted into the NBA!

Uyghur Day – there seems to be more of these happening lately. This is the beginning of one in the Netherlands

For Ramadan, here’s a video of Uyghur men singing the “ramzan towlash” songs they used to sing when they were kids in East Turkistan. The Uyghur Language School students in Adelaide, SA also did Ramzan Towlash and was featured in AnaTil TV.

There will be an Uyghur scholar/intellectuals conference at the George Washington Institute on July 27-28, 2018. I believe they will discuss how best to preserve Uyghur identity while China is destroying our people.

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An interesting cable message from Stalin to Mao regarding the plane crash that killed Uyghur leaders: Facebook.

A Turkish series on YouTube on Uyghur history.

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Uyghur Update: April 30th – 6th May

May 5th is International Doppa Day! Here’s a nice little video explaining different types of doppa. Here’s the link to the infographic featured above.

 

In the Uyghur Region

Security

Navigating Xinjiang’s security checkpoints by Darren Byler speaks of one researcher’s recent experiences with the many security checkpoints. The last paragraph gave me chills.

Some data on how many Uyghurs are being detained in re-education, although the number is probably higher now: Twitter. More stats and stories on “successfully re-educated” people: Twitter, Twitter

More news of Kazakh and Uyghur people being imprisoned: ChinaAid. Here is a photo of a girl from a protest whose father is in re-education: TET.

A bit worrying — Erik Prince has set up a private security training school in East Turkistan, which will presumably help oppress Uyghur people: Washington Post

More on hacking by the Chinese government: ars technica

Media

On state-controlled media, propaganda and mind control: RFA

Policy

A paper on agricultural policies: Future Directions

China on bioethics: Foreign Policy

A summary of how China is “afraid of its ethnic minorities”: Axios

 

International

May 3rd was World Press Freedom Day: WUC

There was a protest in Canberra in front of the Egyptian embassy. You can read the open letter here: Facebook, video

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Here are the proceedings of the conference in the Hudson Institute about the police state:

 

 

Outside of Politics

A summary of modern Uyghur history by Rian Thum: Oxford Research Encyclopedias

On Old Uyghur history and how they withstood drought through trade: The Atlantic

The BizUyghurlar blog, which started out in Russian, now has an English section! They have a lot of interesting articles on Uyghurs, Uyghur culture and history, as well as current events and op-eds by readers.

Uyghur culture was celebrated in Sydney, Australia at the SSI community kitchen: Facebook

Uyghur Akademiye hosted a meeting of academics and students while celebrating Doppa Day and conducting the 3rd conference for the discussion and commemoration of Uyghur intellects: Facebook, Facebook

Cycling to Kashgar with Eleanor Moseman. Follow her Instagram for some amazing stories and photos of her travels.

Uyghur Update: April

I thought I would be back much sooner but things got a little crazy. I’ve started a new job, I’ve attended 2 weddings and 2 large protests, my grandfather passed away, inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon, and I’ve generally been running around a lot organising small projects. So we’ll see how that goes. But I’ll try to continue these news updates.

These will hopefully be shorter now. At least a quarter the size of today’s.

 

In the Uyghur Region

Religion

Religious symbols such as the crescent moon and star or minarets are being removed from mosques: Pulse, Twitter (!), Twitter. Christians are also being persecuted: Forbes, Express. Control over religion has generally increased since Xi came into power: Freedom House. Religions must be “subordinate” to Communist Party: RFA. A video showing how classrooms are anti-religion: Twitter. Profiling against women who wear hijab: Twitter. Tight regulations on Hajj applications: Twitter, Business Insider. Religious or traditional funerals are being banned in favour of “burial management centres”: RFA

Re-education Camps

Re-education camps have only been getting worse, and reports of people being sent there or dying there have only increased over the last month. Here are a few harrowing reports from Foreign Policy, RFA, RFA (Ghulja focus), Yahoo (this one goes into a lot of detail!). There are so many detainees that schools are being converted to re-education camps: ChinaAid. The families of those who have been hurt in the re-education camps are being told to pay high fees for their medical care: WND (the article has some descriptions of the type of torture they are receiving). Here’s a Kazakh man’s recount of a re-education camp: Radio Free Europe. More on orphanages and concentration camps: Medium.

Those who “want to travel abroad” are detained: RFA. Those who show sympathy for those in the re-education camps are detained: RFA. Prominent poets: WUC and professors: WUC. A soccer player for going overseas (to play soccer): RFA, video. A young mother who never even went to protest: Twitter. Reports of famous show hosts and singers such as Abdulla Aburehim being detained have also been floating around. Personal accounts of a man whose parents being taken into these re-education camps: WordPress blog. A daughter speaks of her old and unwell mother’s arrest: video. An entire family detained because one of their family members live abroad: Twitter. Kazkah people are not safe either: Twitter Twitter. More families: Facebook.

These re-education camps are not new, although mass detentions probably started in 2016. By 2014 there had already been 1000s detained: Twitter/XJDaily

The students from Egypt are still missing: RFA

Security/Surveillance

Extensive report on domestic security spending: Jamestown

Total surveillance and facial recognition will be implemented to the whole of China: RFA. Surveillance apps have been installed in all phones: Motherboard (VICE), Buzzfeed (extensive). The internet censorship has gotten much worse: CNET

Grid systems/housing will be implemented to better monitor people: RFA

People who want to use the subway will now have to show their IDs: SCMP. This is just a continuation of older practices though…

Pictures of how Chinese men are moving into homes that need help now that the healthy or working men and women have been detained: Twitter

Chinese people who show support or sympathy for Uyghurs are also harassed: The Globe and Mail

An extensive report on how China is committing genocide against Uyghurs right now: Freedoms Herald

Summaries of how the security crackdown is continuing: The Diplomat, RFA (video). A disturbing propaganda video: Facebook.

 

Education

China is creating more Chinese language schools

Works by Kazakh, Turkish, and Kyrgyz writers have been confiscated: ChinaAid. Uyghur and Kazakh textbooks have been recalled: ChinaAid

Daily Life

Many images of “ghost towns” and deserted areas where once there were a lot of life: Twitter, Twitter, Twitter (video), Twitter, Facebook

A thread on one researcher’s experiences of the changes happening with regards to security and the skew in population: Twitter. A story of another researcher’s experience of getting evicted from Kashgar: Facebook.

Infrastructural and industrial government projects have been halted to stop the increase in debt that “XUAR” has accumulated: SCMP

 

 

Activism

Rebiya Kadeer will be going on hunger strike: ABC News (video) (video) (article)The Sydney Morning Herald

World-wide protests occurred on the 27th of April, the main one being held in Brussels, Belgium: UNPO, WUC, UNPOEuronews. Protests were also held in Australia, USA and Canada.

USA

Reporters from RFA spoke out about their families being arrested (article):

They also spoke with State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert. Here’s a video of her speaking on the issue. More from Acting Secretary Sullivan.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China respectively, urged U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to visit XUAR and prioritize the issue of mass surveillance and detention of the Uyghur ethnic minority population, including the detention of family members of Radio Free Asia employees: Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Washington Post, Straits Times.

Associated Press reports that US officials may start sanctioning Chinese officials involved in the security crackdowns/human rights abuses under the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act.

Protests in DC, with speeches from President of the Lantos Foundation, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett (video). Video and article by the Lantos Foundation.

A public statement by the UHRP on organ harvesting

An extensive report on the Bingtuan by the UHRP — The Bingtuan: China’s Paramilitary Colonizing Force in East Turkestan.

Ms. Zubayra Shamseden, Chinese Outreach Coordinator at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, spoke on the Religious Freedom and Empowering Civil Society panel during the International Religious Freedom Day on January 16th, with the Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the U.S. Department of State: US Department of State Official Blog

A group of Uyghurs were removed from the ICNA Convention for talking about the Uyghur genocide.

Japan

WUC and UHRP attended conferences in Tokyo: RFA, UHRP

Pakistan

Pakistani men with Uyghur wives who have been detained may begin protesting: Asia Times

Europe

WUC President Dolkun Isa was prevented from attending the UN Indigenous Forum again despite being approved: WUC. He was allowed in after some international outcry: Twitter.

WUC now has a broadcasting component.

China continues to spread misinformation about Uyghur people in order to justify their crimes: WUC

Speaking on repressions worldwide at the journalism festival.

An interesting video by Brut about a French Uyghur woman and re-education camps.

Online

Petition against organ harvesting

Petition to locate the missing Uyghur people

Petition against the locking up of people in re-education camps

A call for information by the WUC. If you know someone in re-education, contact them.

 

Chinese pressure Uyghurs overseas

China has been imprisoning families of Uyghur living abroad: Wall Street Journal

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This article talks about Uyghurs being sent to China and placed in re-education, and the silencing of Uyghurs abroad: The Economist

A summary of the type of policing the Chinese government has been implementing in different countries around the world: The News Lens

Personally I’ve heard of people in Australia and Canada receiving suspicious calls from Chinese embassies urging them to contact the embassies.

 

Chinese pressure everyone overseas

Clive Hamilton’s article asking why Australia is turning a blind eye to Chinese interference politically, academically, and in communities: The Conversation

How China has been kidnapping/disappearing Chinese and Uyghur people over the years: Foreign Policy

How academics self-censor their work for fear they will no longer be able to go to China to do their research, or for fear of intimidation: SCMP

Side note: The EU seems to be pushing back against the Belt and Road Initiative…

 

Talks

Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam by Rachel Harris April 10, New Haven, CT

The Political Economy of Han Xinjiang: Organised Dependency and Lucrative Chaos by Tom Cliff 26 April, Sydney, Australia

China’s Police State in Xinjiang by The Hudson Institute May 4, Washington DC

When the Government Defines You: China and the Uyghurs by Forum on International Affairs May 10, Washington DC

 

Outside of Politics

The indiegogo campaign to publish The Land Drench In Tears by Soyungul Chanisheff is still ongoing – please support!

A World Uyghur Writers Union has been established. President: Tahir Hamut, VP: Mutellip Seydulla, Secretary: Abdushukur Muhemmed, Committee members: Abdushukur Muhemmed, Alimjan Inayet, Exmetjan Osman, Tahir Hamut, Mutellip Seydulla, Muqeddes Nur.

A feature on the London Uyghur Ensemble in a Turkish newspaper:

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Uyghur culture was displayed at the Festival des Civilisations in France.

There will be another event in Turkey commemorating various writers.

Uyghur clothes for sale in Turkey: Facebook

 

How to Pronounce Uyghur?

Ever wondered how Uyghur is pronounced? Ever wondered who Uyghurs are? This was a fun and educational project run by POET, or People of East Turkistan, a group of Uyghur youth in Adelaide, Australia who ran a stall in a local festival to pose these questions to curious passersby. Participants also got pictures wearing the Uyghur hat, or doppa, and a little treat for their efforts.

Follow POET on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to keep up with future projects!

 

me update

I don’t think I will be able to post an Uyghur update for a while considering how busy these next couple of months are going to be. I’m finishing my Masters insha Allah (so much to do, so much to write) and I am also helping out with some of the protests and events happening — there will be some local February 5th events, March 15th is a worldwide protest organised by One Voice, One Step (Bir Awaz, Bir Qedem, a world-wide Uyghur women’s group – the main protest will be in front of the UN in New York), and in the last week of March there will be a 3-day silent protest in Canberra for those of us in Australia. Hope to see you there!

I will be back with Uyghur Updates in April. Til then!

Uyghur Update: 4th – 15th January

I have been travelling a little and it’s unfair how big of a difference time zones make so I am a little late but hopefully I won’t be travelling again until the middle of the year. Enjoy my jetlagged attempt at writing lol. So much happened?? I am certain I have missed something…

 

In the Uyghur Region

Environment

China’s environmental protection ministry admonished the Uyghur Autonomous Region for illegally exploiting natural resources without regard for the environment. This comes on the heels of weeks of reports from the Global Times about finding new natural resources in the region (as I’ve been documenting in previous updates). Will they stop mining and drilling there now?

Arrests

Four of the wealthiest men in Kashgar have been arrested, apparantly for religious extremism:

“Gheni Haji, Imin Hajim, and Memet Tursun Haji had displayed signs of religious extremism, so they were arrested,” [the Kashgar, Chasar township chief of security] told RFA in a phone interview, adding that their activities were characterized as “abnormal” by authorities.

“I was told that Memet Tursun Haji did not hold a funeral when his father passed away. Not holding a funeral is one of the signs of extremism. Gheni and Imin prayed only eight times at prayer service, not 20 as others usually do. That is also a sign of extremism.”

Imin Hajim, Yasinahun said, is “a man of few words” who normally kept to himself, but had protested police searches of his home.

“He expressed extreme displeasure with our visits to his house related to our security work and said, ‘I am a Chinese citizen, why do you conduct so many searches,’” he said.

They had also apparently went on un-sanctioned hajj trips.

Shafkad Abasi, a Tatar medical practitioner, was detained by Chinese authorities in March 2017 and no one has heard of him since. His brother was denied visitation rights when he attempted to look for him.

This Tweet links to a Chinese article which apparently talks about 3 high ranking Uyghur officials being accused of pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism.

More on Dr Halmurat Ghopur – apparently he was arrested for “spreading national extremism” according to RFA.

Re-education camps

An interview with a former Communist Party secretary reveals how even Uyghur Party members who promote ethnic unity and are loyal to the Party are being sent to re-education or being relieved of their jobs. Further information from RFA reveals the appalling conditions people in re-education are facing, including so much over-crowding that people are being turned away from these centres (although it is not known what happens to them after they are turned away):

Bawdun said that on the day he was brought to the re-education camp, a friend was also processed and admitted, although contacts from the Bayin’gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefectural Public Security Bureau and the detention center bailed him out three to four days later based on a health condition.

While inside, the friend said he had seen officials from the re-education camp tell the police to “stop bringing people … as it is already too full.”

He described cells that had previously held eight people now accommodating 14 inmates, who “were not allowed pillows” and “had to lay on their sides because there was not enough room to lay flat,” let alone space to turn over or stretch their legs.

Other acquaintances told Bawdun that they had seen “detainees walking barefoot,” and that inmates were “not allowed clothes with buttons or metal zippers,” belts, shoelaces, or “even underwear” in some cases, despite average low temperatures of around 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 degrees Celsius) at night in December.

There is more detail about the number of people in the article. Apparently they get health checks before being admitted, and he saw women who had fainted while waiting for the checkup, and many men over the age of 70, all waiting to be detained. These are clearly prison conditions, not “re-education” or “ugunush”, which is what it is being called in Uyghurche. Ugunush sounds so harmless, like you’re just going to school. It is a prison…

More rumours on what might be happening in those camps and prisons: unexplained deaths and graves.

Word on the street is many of the wealthy or well-to-do have been leaving as soon as they can, especially after they realised things were only getting worse after the 19th Party Congress despite being promised that re-education would be ending.

19th Party Congress

The Global Times reports that there are parts of the Uyghur Region that are still blasting parts of the 19th Party Congress throughout their towns using loudspeakers. Actually, just read the article because it’s really short (like most Global Times articles) and the author sounds like they are trapped in a factory and crying for help honestly. It also talks about the government officials that lived with Uyghur families:

About a million cadres and employees in Xinjiang participated in a campaign in which they spent time living, working and studying with people from different ethnic groups, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday.

The campaign is aimed at promoting the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the CPC to thousands of families in the autonomous region, the Urumqi-based paper reported.

Unity Week + Chinese “families”

Apparently a new “family system” is being implemented in March – a Chinese family will be placed in every(?) Uyghur household? The Times released an article that seems to be in line with this but I am not subscribed so I can’t see if they are talking about the “unity weeks” (where they had government officials living with Uyghur families for a week or so) or if they go into future plans. In any case, here is the official report on how amazing the unity week activities went, and how some of these people have actually known their “family” since 2014 since these programs are in no way new.

Propaganda songs

Here’s a translation and audio of a propaganda song that is blasted ubiquitously throughout Urumchi.

Here’s a video of Kazakh people being made to learn a Chinese propaganda version of a popular traditional folk song (Karajorga). The uploader provided a translation of the lyrics:

The Communist Party is the sun,
its radiance felt in every household.
Chairman Xi is the leader.
All the people of the country…
The society is stable and harmonious.
How happily are we living and working!
Our life is so good.
Construction has given the countryside a new outlook,
with wide asphalt roads, and tidy affordable homes. …
Fifteen years of free education,
land-use extended by 30 years,
we farmers…
Communist Party is good!
Chairman Xi is good!
Communist Party is good!
Chairman Xi is good! …
Rural areas are now on the same level with urban areas. …
The kindness of the Party shouldn’t be forgotten.
We support the Communist Party. …
Let’s revive the nation…

Education

The Global Times reports that people in “Xinjiang” (and Uyghurs in the mainland as well!) are being educated about their history and religion:

The campaign is necessary as Xinjiang still faces threats from terrorism, extremism and separatism, and problems in ideology still threaten social management of the region and local people’s national identity, Xu noted.

“The understanding of such history is the foundation to better insist on core socialist values in the region,” he said.

Lectures are also being held outside Xinjiang.

An open history class was held for Xinjiang students studying at Shanghai Yucai High School in May 2017, together with a seminar and lecture about how to improve such classes, according to the school’s website.

Xinjiang students studying in regions such as Beijing and Shanghai also need such knowledge as they are more easily approached by terrorists and separatists, Xu said.

“…as they are more easily approached by terrorists and separatists” … … …

 

Organ Harvesting

NTD.tv released a video about organ harvesting in China. In it, Enver Tohti talks about his time as a surgeon for the Chinese. There are also excerpts from speeches from activists and other surgeons. It’s a little graphic.

Dissolution of Uyghur Culture

Xplore Film released this trailer(?) and an excerpt of an essay that is yet to be published… seems like they are ready to expose something.

On Forced Disappearances

An interview with Michael Caster (editor of The People’s Republic of the Disappeared) on forced disappearances (he talks about Uyghurs but also China).

Ethnic Cleansing of Uyghurs

This article was published by CJ Werleman Independent, titled “Uyghur Muslims: Victims of the World’s Largest Ethnic Cleansing”. It outlines the atrocities Uyghurs are facing and really hits home the fact that this is large-scale ethnic cleansing.

 

China

Marriott in hot water for liking Tibetan activist tweet

The hotel group Marriott is under fire because their Twitter account liked a post that supported Tibet. They issued an apology but users found that they had liked another post by “Friends of Tibet” so they were under more fire. According to this article, “Authorities in Shanghai shut down the company’s Chinese website and launched an investigation after it emailed a Chinese-language questionnaire to its customers in which Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were named as countries.” Apparently the tweets were congratulating Marriott for listing Tibet as a country. China ordered Marriott to shut down its Chinese language website and app, and Chinese booking sites withdrew Marriott from their listings. Marriott responded by saying “Marriott International respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. We don’t support separatist groups that subvert the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China… We sincerely apologise for any actions that may have suggested otherwise.” lmao.

Surveillance and Security

More on the facial recognition and surveillance technology China has been using. The article talks mostly about the technology itself, then sums up all the problems it is facing, all its aspirations, compares it to other countries’ surveillance technologies, then ends with privacy and rights abuses:

At Megvii, marketing manager Zhang Xin boasts that the company’s Face++ program helped police arrest 4,000 people since the start of 2016, including about 1,000 in Hangzhou, where a major deployment of cameras in hotels, subways and train stations preceded that year’s G-20 summit.

Very likely among that number: some of the dozens of dissidents, petitioners and citizen journalists who were detained in and around the city at that time.

Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders in Hong Kong, argues that China’s tech companies are complicit in human rights abuses.

“It’s basically a crime in China to advocate for human rights protection,” she said. “The government treats human rights activists, lawyers and ethnic Uighurs and Tibetans as criminals, and these people are being caught, jailed and possibly tortured as a result of this technology.”

Christianity

China is continuing to shut down churches.

Free speech & reporting

Reporters Without Borders released an article saying China is “one of the worst free speech predators”.

 

Chinese vs China

Social Credit

More on China’s social credit system and how it affects outspoken individuals:

What it meant for Mr. Liu is that when he tried to buy a plane ticket, the booking system refused his purchase, saying he was “not qualified.” Other restrictions soon became apparent: He has been barred from buying property, taking out a loan or travelling on the country’s top-tier trains.

“There was no file, no police warrant, no official advance notification. They just cut me off from the things I was once entitled to,” he said. “What’s really scary is there’s nothing you can do about it. You can report to no one. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

Open letter from Chinese youth

This open letter to Xi Jinping is being circulated on the internet, titled: “A Youth Letter to Xi Jinping on the Last Judgement”. It is quite strongly worded, explicitly stating, “We are a group of young Chinese and non-Chinese committed to subverting your regime and dividing your empire.” It is actually quite poetically written… it has been a while since I’ve read something so unapologetically religious, rebellious, and proactively peaceful…?

Chinese billionaire vs Chinese government

Guo Wengu, an exiled Chinese billionaire, seems to be making a few headlines. Apparently he has made himself an enemy of the state for exposing certain Chinese government officials and is seeking asylum in the US. This is a report by the BBC. A quick Google search reveals that he has been speaking out against corruption in China since last year. This blog seems to have translated some of the things he said against officials who targeted Uyghurs? I’m not sure how reliable it is but it also links to some YouTube videos, which is one of the platforms through which Wengu has been releasing information. There has been some weird drama around him. It’s interesting to see Chinese billionaires speaking out against the CCP though.

 

International

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a group.

BRI

Update on Belt and Road and potential financial hurdles.

Chinese influence over academia

An extensive look at China’s influence over academics in Australia and the US, and another one that focuses more on China and the world.

Switzerland & Security

In the last few weeks reports have come out from Germany saying China was using LinkdIn to gain information – now Swiss intelligence says they are aware of the threat of “…Chinese intelligence services… systematically trying to extract information from Swiss researchers and decision-makers by initiating contact via LinkedIn.”

USA

AT&T (a mobile service provider) have dropped Huawei amongst security concerns. Also WhatsApp group chats might not be as secure as one would hope.

The Congressional Executive Commission on China says the situation in “Xinjiang” has further deterioted since their 2017 report.

A delegation from the Uyghur Region went to the US to meet with “…leaders of overseas Chinese communities, local cultural organizations and scholars from local think tanks” and “…promote understanding of Xinjiang, especially among scholars in the US.” However, from my understanding there were no Uyghurs in the delegation, and they didn’t meet any Uyghurs or any scholars or thinktanks who are currently writing about Uyghurs…

Canada

This article came out talking about Chinese intimidation in Canada among human rights activists. It talks about Chinese people trying to speak out against China but getting threatened or admonished by the government. Their families living in China will pay. It talks about Falun Gong practitioners too – apparently Canadian politicians now get fake emails from the “Falun Gong” disparaging their reputation. They talk about Uyghurs who can’t call home for fear that their relatives will be imprisoned. It ends with a former Miss Canada who was barred from competing in Miss World in 2015 for talking about the Falun Gong. Her father in China is constantly harassed by the government, and her pageant sponsor (a dress shop owned by a Canadian-Chinese) dropped her after the Chinese Consulate emailed them.

France

WUC released a letter to the President of France ahead of his visit to China this week. But he didn’t do much about human rights issues.

UK

Carrie Gracie, the BBC China Editor, resigned recently due to lack of fair pay between her and her male counterparts. Her website has a few stories on Uyghurs and this link has a video that was taken down from BBC servers a day after it was published. Anyway wage gaps based on gender and race need to end now.

 

Activist Groups

Torchlight Uyghur Group

“Torchlight Uyghur Group” has been circulating this petition on change.org called Stop Chinese Government’s Inhumane Treatment towards the Uyghurs. As of now it has been signed by 9,800 people. It is available in a number of different languages and basically says:

1.     Close the “political re-education camps”; they are in violation of the China’s relevant laws and the relevant international regulations;

2.     Stop the policy that prohibits the Uyghurs in East Turkestan to travel a foreign country and the Uyghurs abroad to travel to East Turkestan;

3.     Guarantee that the Uyghurs abroad can receive money from, send money to and communicate with their parents and/or siblings in East Turkestan;

4.     Stop the surveillance of the Uyghurs who have relatives abroad, and allow them to communicate with oversea relatives;

5.     Stop the surveillance and the remote control of the Uyghurs living abroad;

6.     Stop examining the home computers and mobile phones of all the Uyghurs living in East Turkestan;

7.     Stop the arbitrary search of Uyghur homes, and mandatory assignment of Han-Chinese “relatives” to every Uyghur family.

IUHRDF & RFA

Rebiya Kadeer released a letter of appreciation for the publication of this article from the Wilson Centre (particularly the translation of certain Russian documents). Here is an interview David Brophy (the author) did with RFA.

 

 

Outside of Politics

Sports

Apparently Mardan Mamtimin is the first Uyghur bodybuilder to compete on a world stage (WBPF?). Not really a fan of bodybuilding but there you go.

This came out in December but I thought it was still a really cute video of a kid just trying to play soccer and look after his parents T_T. Abdulla Abdureyim gheyret qil lol.

History

A cool little article on research about old irrigation and farming systems in Central Asia. A fun quote at the end:

Li told Newsweek that the biggest insight he felt he gained from the research was that ancient Central Asian agropastoralist societies might have lived a more sustainable lifestyle than Han dynasty colonists, and that their irrigation technologies were more adaptive than those that the Han troops introduced to Xinjiang.

“The systems built by the local agropastoralists were oriented towards conservation and efficiency,” Li wrote to Newsweek. “They were built in an energetically conservative way and they emphasized water storage rather than constant supply of water. The Han dynasty systems, however, were oriented towards maximizing the water supply with much less consideration of the labor cost and the efficiency of water use.”

(Apparently the Han dynasty were present in the Tarim Basin for a while but the history’s contested whether the region was a protectorate/tribute state or if there were just trade relations. Either way relations between the “Xiongnu” and Han Dynasty were very up and down, the Great Wall still served as a demarcation line between them, and ties were severed when the Han dynasty fell)

This video by The Nomadic Professor was released on YouTube. It outlines Uyghur history and refers to it as East Turkestan, which is nice. It’s not entirely accurate and he forgets to mention the Qarakhanids and stuff but you get the gist of it all.

Nature

A big iron meteorite (“The Tear of Allah”) was found in Altay and a Kazakh herdsman had been looking after it for years, but it was taken away by the local government so now he is suing. The article mentions that the world’s 3rd largest iron meteorite (“Silver Camel”) was also found in Altay a century ago which I thought was pretty cool.

 

Fundraiser

There’s this fundraiser going around — an Uyghur couple need help because the husband was shot by a stray bullet in America. Link to their GoFundMe for anyone who wants to help.

 

Education

Ana Til Care in Virginia, USA had their open day which was really nice. There were a lot of performances by the young children currently enrolled at the school and then presentations from the teachers about past curriculums, achievements, and future plans. I think this is a great start and hope it will last a long time!

I believe Abduweli Ayup and his group are producing Ana Til TV for anyone interested. (It’s for kids).

Psychology

Dr Mamtimin Ala gave an interview about Uyghur psychology.  His presentation slides can be found here and a recent lecture on psychological wellbeing here.

New Reads

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The Uyghur journal “Izdinish” released their second issue. You can read their first and second issues on their website.

Yet another Uyghur book website has been published! This one is called UyghurKitap. Looks pretty neat.

Food

Another positive piece on Kebab Empire in New York for their polo/kawap/doghap deal.

Uyghur Update: December 27th – 4th January

Happy new year! I have started the year by visiting the other side of the world so hopefully this still makes sense despite the jet lag. May 2018 bring more successes and freedom for Uyghurs okay let’s go

 

Uyghur Region

There is news of prominent Uyghur doctor Dr Halmurat Ghopur being detained.

Here are some photos of the house-sharing project with Uyghur families and Chinese officials. Here is the Chinese report on unity week. I particularly like the last sentence: “Liu also helped Tursenjan shake off poverty, the report said” Cool. Just “shake off” poverty, how nice.

Here’s a video of what appears to be a very small group of villagers conducting a flag raising ceremony:

And for those who know Chinese – here are photos regarding prohibited Uyghur texts.

Security

The Guardian published an article outlining the heavy-handed security measures those in the region are facing right now. The article is a bit like a summary of all the intense journalism that’s been coming out from WSJ and AP over the last few weeks.

Moderate voices silenced

Gerry Shih (AP) released another article, this time on the silencing of moderate voices. He profiles Zhang Haitao, who for years had criticised the government’s treatment of Uyghurs on social media. I don’t think a lot of Uyghur activists even knew him – he was a businessman, not an activist. He is now sentenced to 19 years because he “resisted, attacked and smeared” the Communist Party and its policies on Twitter and WeChat (15 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power) and talked to/provided photos to foreign reporters on the intense police presence in the region (5 years, providing intelligence about China’s anti-terror efforts to foreign organizations). Apparently he had first been arrested for “inciting ethnic hatred” but it was upped to subversion and espionage when he wouldn’t confess. Shih also describes other moderate speakers who were imprisoned:

Ma Like, a Muslim hostel owner in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, was accused in April of “propagating extremism” because he had retweeted two Weibo posts — one about how Chinese policies were alienating Uighurs, the other a veiled reference to restrictions on the Islamic headdress — according to two of Ma’s friends, who provided copies of Ma’s indictment and spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

The prominent Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti was handed a life sentence in 2014 on charges of fanning ethnic hatred, advocating violence and instigating terror on a website he ran. He, too, was known as a moderate who argued against Uighur separatism and stressed the need for dialogue.

But when it comes to Xinjiang, calling for public debate amounts to an intolerable act of defiance, said Wang Lixiong, a Han Chinese writer and dissident.

“The government removes the middle road so it leaves two extremes,” Wang said. “You’re either their mortal enemy or their slave.”

I have heard personal accounts of Han people in the Uyghur region being taken into detention or re-education these days. The problem has grown to encompass not just Uyghurs, but anyone who criticises the government’s policies in any way. Perhaps that is why people are showing more of an interest these days… In any case, the article seems to resonate with a lot of people such as Josh Summers of FarWestChina who says this is exactly why he and others don’t talk about politics.

North Korea + South Africa = “Xinjiang”?

Nathan Vanderklippe also released a new article, this time interviewing scholars who recently visited the region:

“It’s a mix of the North Korean aspiration for total control of thought and action, with the racialized implementation of apartheid South Africa and Chinese AI [artificial intelligence] and surveillance technology,” said Rian Thum, a historian at Loyola University in New Orleans. “It’s a truly remarkable situation, in a global sense.”

He also describes the photos Rian Thum has been posting to his Twitter account recently. The other scholar he interviews is Dr David Brophy:

“Xinjiang very much feels like a military occupation now,” he said, albeit one with an ideological objective. “Every night on TV, there was a lot of footage of oath-swearing ceremonies,” in which people pledged to root out “two-faced people,” the label given to Uyghur Communist Party members not fully devoted to Chinese policy.

“It really gave the feel of a serious purge in process,” said Dr. Brophy, who first went to Xinjiang in 2001, and at one point lived there for a year.

“The Uyghurs are basically being expected to wage war on themselves,” he added.

China Digital Times also released a report outlining these stories and adding that Ilham Tohti’s niece, a 25 year old nurse, was sentenced to 10 years for having a picture and a foreign media article of him on her phone.

Biodata Collection

The Diplomat interviewed Darren Byler on the topic of biodata collection. It’s in a nice Q&A format so it’s easily readable for people who aren’t too familiar on the topic.

Social Credit scoring in China

This isn’t specific to the Uyghur region but: social credit scores are still gaining traction, and there’s even an app you can use to report illegal activity around you in exchange for your ID and location, and in return you can get freebies and coupons.

Natural Gas

This is on of the reasons why China doesn’t want to let go of East Turkestan.

 

July 5th

Interesting article on the July 5th incident that states that the Chinese government may have had a direct role in perpetuating it.

 

International

Syria

More on the Uyghurs in Syria narrative – a follow-up article by Shih on how Uyghur activists are trying to prevent new Uyghur refugees from being recruited to terrorist organisations. Again, another fantastic article you should read. There are some really interesting viewpoints and Shih has a really heart-wrenching way of telling stories.

USA

An article by James Millward about publishing on China and being blacklisted/denied travel visas. It is a re-upload from a piece he wrote in 2011, but basically he argues that academics should not self-censor.

Japan

For anyone who knows Japanese – there is a long-running Uyghur/Japanese news program available on YouTube called Uyghurlar Awazi.

???

This video has been circulated a lot lately – it seems to be an interview with a guy who is confessing to spying on the Uyghur community. Apparently he has been sending photos, videos, and information about individuals in the Uyghur community to Chinese government officials. He says the government told him to so that his family would be released from detention, and he was also paid to do so. The video comes with an accompanying audio that warns Uyghurs to be careful of spies and to share the video so that people are aware that this guy is a spy.

 

BRI

More on the peace/trade talks between China-Pakistan-Afghanistan.

An article on… new Chinese movies promoting BRI… featuring Jackie Chan, Mike Tyson, Steven Seagal… and another article on Chinese movies that then goes into relations between China and Trump…

 

Outside of Politics

Education

UyghurYar – Uyghurgha Yardem (Assistance for Uyghurs) – read more on the initiative here.

Yet another website that is uploading Uyghur books and journals! AltunOq

A new Uyghur language school/day care is opening up in Virginia soon:

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Food

An article profiling Sama Uyghur Cuisine (Union City, USA) and its 3 owners. Really nice read on food and identity.

I’ve heard some frustration from those who despise the idea of an entire people, especially a minority, boiling down to just food and music. I can see where that sentiment comes from… but I also agree that food and music are a universal language lol… also someone on Instagram tagged me in this:

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She has been posting quite a lot on her travels (and not just about food!) and if that is the sort of difference a restaurant can make then isn’t it good?

Soccer

More soccer tournament news – this time in USA:

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Poetry

A podcast by Asymptote Journal on some of their favourite poetry they published this year, including translations of Tahir Hamut’s poetry.

Pop Culture

Uyghur actress Dilraba Dilmurat entered The 100 Most Beautiful Faces of 2017 at #26:

(Also Dimash Kudaibergen from Kazakhstan (who went viral recently) came in #76 on the men’s list lol)

Uyghur Update: 18th – 27th December

This one isn’t as in-depth as it could be because it’s holiday season aka family season ie I am t i r e d. Happy holidays, China wants to ban Christmas lol.

 

The Uyghur Region

Regular life

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XJ Daily 12/25: “Eat Together; Live Together; Work Together; Study Together” slogan in celebration of the “Ethnic Unity ‘Family Ties’ Week”

The “relatives’ week” has begun! Local officials will be living with Uyghur families in rural areas to eat, drink, and work together, such fun. Much bond. As the article points out, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened – similar programs occurred during Ramadan, for example, and it is clearly a way to survey the population and keep an eye on who is inclined to religious practice or some sort of “subversion”. Watch more people be moved into re-education by the end of the year…

Arrests

In fact, more Kazakh people have already been detained.

Last week Gerry Shih wrote about the surveillance state – this week RFA confirmed that one of the Uyghur students he wrote about has died in state prison, along with another student.

Here are a list of political prisoners in East Turkestan according to the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China’s Political Prisoner Database.

Security

China will be handing out rewards to anyone who reports “terrorists” and “extremists” but also “two-faced” people. Surely they have better things to spend this much money on? But no, they’re hiring even more police.

The Wall Street Journal released a widely shared article titled Twelve Days in Xinjiang: How China’s Surveillance State Overwhelms Daily Life. It is really well-written and well worth your time to go through it in its entirety rather than have me summarise it. It includes photos of what they are describing and really good graphics such as this one:

Untitled

The article is accompanied by a video which shows the WSJ team going through “China’s total surveillance state” and is a really good 8 minutes for those who need to see to believe. In it, they interview Tahir Hamut (side note: I could never have guessed this is where he would end up when I started reading his poems at the beginning of the year) and he gives really interesting insight from someone who has lived this reality. He also shares this form all the citizens of the region had to fill out, which scores you as “safe”, “average”, or “unsafe”:

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Annotations in red added by The Wall Street Journal. Notes: * Xinjiang considers it suspicious for Uighurs to visit a list of 26 mostly Muslim countries, including Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. ** “Persons of interest” refers to people on the police watch list; “special population” is a common euphemism for Uighurs seen as separatists risks. Sources: Tahir Hamut (provided the form), Uighur Istiqlal TV and Adrian Zenz (confirmation of 26-country list).

One of the authors provides more info on his Twitter account, and here are comments from another Xinjiang reporter. One reporter says that the points matter because only those with high points can vouch for those who are being deemed suspicious.

DNA

More on China’s DNA database plus comments from the author of the article.

The Epoch Times has picked up on the news that there are fears that biometric data collection may be used for organ harvesting purposes.

Twitter

I’m not sure how Twitter feels about being used as a political tool for so many countries but yeah so China:

China anti-terrorism expert proposes beefing up state-run media Twitter accounts with positive Xinjiang coverage and asking Twitter to change service rules, to combat “fake news” passed about by Uighur activists

Wild.

Re-education

This is a new article by Nathan Vanderklippe of The Globe and Mail but it is blocked by a paywall so here’s the description for those interested but don’t have a subscription:

Expanding on a playbook used to squelch dissent in Tibet, and employing Mao-era techniques of social engineering, China is systematically rounding up thousands of Muslim citizens in the country’s far western Xinjiang region and quietly submitting them to ‘re-education.’ Nathan VanderKlippe reports.

Abduweli Ayup (based in Turkey) seems to be starting a letter campaign for those people who are being sent to re-education camps. I’m not sure if we are to send letters individually or if it would be better to create a campaign where we can add the names of our relatives to an ever-expanding list, but here is the general format they have proposed:

Fax: +41 22 917 90 06
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Address:
Quick Response Desk
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14 avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

Dear OHCHR Officer,

My name is <insert name>. The following are my relatives who were taken to a re-education camp in China six month ago, without any explanation. I have recently learned from Associated Press’s news that a young Uyghur man whose name is Yasinjan disappeared in a re-education camp and soon after Radio Free Asia confirmed that Yasinjan and another young man were killed in the re-education camp. I have had no contact with my relatives, and I am extremely worried about their safety. I learned from unofficial sources that almost half of the Uyghur population are taken to so-called China’s re-education camp. Uyghurs in re-education camps include women, children, and elderly people. They are suffering from extensive torture, forcible disappearance, and some of them end up with mysterious dead or abused for organ harvesting. I would like to ask Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights take urgent action for this case to save these innocent people’s life.

  • Rishat Ablikim, male, age 55, resided in Ghulja
  • Munire Mijit, female, age 25, resided in Urumchi
  • Buhelchem Rishat, female, age 60, Urumchi

Sincerely,

<name>, <date>

Chinese Response

China responded to articles from last week with a video of their own. They say that surveillance (ex/ CCTV) is a Western invention and the West shouldn’t criticize China when they use it. However, they didn’t comment on anything else? The cameras are literally the least of our problems. If all they did was watch, and use surveillance cameras to track down actual criminals, no one would care. That’s not the biggest issue here. But nah, all our problems are just “some of the fake news Trump rants about.”

Apparently China is being open about the levels of surveillance and the restrictions on human rights on Uyghurs because 1. they are confidently rejecting Western human rights and 2. they want to use Western media to ‘strike fear’ in Uyghur ‘terrorists’ outside of China. I don’t really want to dwell on this op-ed because I am tired and it sounds dumb. But I do agree that China seems less worried that the world is seeing what they are doing. Ever since the rise of the right-wing in Europe and Trump in the US, it seems like China is confident it can get away with abusing human dignity without any significant retribution.

 

International

UK

Rahima Mahmut spoke as an audience member about China’s intentions in a panel discussion called CPEC: Diplomatic debt-trap or economic game-changer for South Asia?’ – organized by The European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) at Royal Asiatic Society in London on the 15th of December 2017.

Syria

Apparently China is serious about sending troops to Syria to fight Uyghurs.

Gerry Shih also released a new article for AP: Anger with China drives Uighurs to Syria fight. A fascinating read on some of the Uyghurs who were driven to Syria to fight against China. I urge you to read the whole thing and understand the nuances provided. I still stand by what I said about China exaggerating the threat of Uyghur militancy. But it is interesting to read from the perspectives of China, Uyghur activists, and Uyghur militants. More comments from the author’s Twitter.

 

Belt and Road

A new book called China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its Impact in Central Asia was released by the Central Asia Program (George Washington University):

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September 2013 at Nazarbayev University. It is therefore natural that, for its launch, the NAC-NU Central Asia Studies Program, in partnership with GW’s Central Asia Program, seeks to disentangle the puzzle of the Belt and Road Initiative and its impact on Central Asia. 

Selected from over 130 proposals, the papers brought together here offer a complex and nuanced analysis of China’s New Silk Road project: its aims, the challenges facing it, and its reception in Central Asia. Combining methodological and theoretical approaches drawn from disciplines as varied as economics and sociology, and operating at both micro and macro levels, this collection of papers provides the most up-to-date research on China’s BRI in Central Asia. 

It also represents the first step toward the creation of a new research hub at Nazarbayev University, aiming to forge new bonds between junior, mid-career, and senior scholars who hail from different regions of the world and belong to different intellectual traditions.

Representatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan met with Chinese officials and agreed to “work together to tackle the threat of terrorism” in East Turkistan… and other security stuff

Here’s an article on the difficulties of trade from the Kazakh border and how this may hinder BRI ambitions.

 

 

Outside of Politics

Books

I came across this Google Drive with a whole bunch of Uyghur books for anyone interested in reading.

Documents and papers

I found out the Central Asia Program at George Washington University has an Uyghur Studies Initiative which is pretty cool! So far they have a list of studies and academic papers and links to past conferences.

New declassified documents reveal official estimates of the death toll at the Tiananmen Square Massacre. There’s a comment at the end by Rose Tang that is :(.

Music

A performance: Ozhal Muqam, Jula, Senem // Sufis on the Silk Road // Nava’i at the Asia House in London, UK.

Soccer

The Uyghur Australian soccer tournament was held over the 25th-27th December. This year it took place in Adelaide, SA, and the teams were Adelaide (A team), Adelaide (B team), Melbourne and Sydney. There are some live videos here and photos from the event here: 1, 234. The trophies are looking better every year lol! Adelaide (A) won, followed by Sydney, Adelaide (B) and Melbourne. My favourite part was on the first day where both Melbourne and Sydney teams needed more players; Adelaide supplemented both, and Sydney let a girl (Dana) on to the team! She scored one goal and assisted another and Sydney won that match! This means there is no excuse – PROVIDE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GIRLS TO PLAY!!!

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Education

There is a new thing happening called UyghurYar, a sort of organisation created to help Uyghur children and youth. I think we will be hearing more about this later.

Travel/photos

Rian Thum continues his photo journey on Twitter so follow along for some cool pics.

Uyghur Update: 9th – 18th December

A bit longer because I will probably be late again next week…

Also, just a reminder that if you’re feeling down or you need help, please reach out to someone or call a help hotline. Trust me, it won’t last forever.

 

In the Uyghur Region

Biometric data collection

The big news this week appears to be the Human Rights Watch report that DNA and other biometric data were being collected from residents of the Uyghur region under the guise of a public health program.

According to the guidelines, different authorities are responsible for different types of biometric collection. Party cadres and police officers are responsible for collecting pictures, fingerprints and iris scans, and “household registration” (or hukou) information using mobile apps designed for such purpose either during home visits, or by setting up central collection points. Local health authorities are responsible for collecting DNA and blood type information “as part of” the Physicals for All program, according to the guidelines. The collected blood type information is directly sent to the police, while the “blood cards for DNA collection will be sent to the county police bureaus for profiling.” All of this information is stored and linked to an individual’s national identification number.

It is unclear whether citizens can opt-out, or if collection officers are required to gain consent before collecting this information. It seems as though citizens who are told they can get the free physical believe that if they don’t, it can be seen as grounds for a ‘thought problem’. So far, there is only information for a few districts in the region, but presumably they will be expanding it the way they did with the ‘bilingual’ education programs and the changes to worship.

A number of local governments in different parts of Xinjiang – Yining countyTacheng prefectureTiemenguan city (which is part of the Xinjiang Military Corps), Korla city, and Jinghe county – have issued local versions of the directives instructing the collection of biometrics. The directives in Ili and Tacheng largely reproduce the provincial-level guidelines verbatim. In Tiemenguan, though, the collection of DNA is limited to those aged 14 to 65. The Tiemenguan directive also instructs the propaganda authorities to be responsible for “monitoring public sentiments on the internet” about the biometric collection and to “guide and handle negative information.”

The Financial Times notes that it could be used to match organs to potential recipients post-execution. China Digital Times comments more on the issue and responds to the Global Times’ response to the initial report. In it, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson says:

“Xinjiang has witnessed economic development and social stability, and the people there are living and working in a joyful mood, a scene that some people overseas might be unwilling to see”

I’m thinking he is unwilling to see our misery each time another one of our family members are thrown into prison or “detention” for no reason.

Apparently some of DNA collection equipment are being bought from Thermo Fisher Scientific. Yet another disappointment from big science names. Others reporting on the issue: The GuardianBuzzfeed, CNN, Financial Times. Nature reported on this in May so it has been going on for a while…

Arrests, detentions, re-education

Associated Press released a new report outlining all the terrible things that are happening right now – from forced repatriation to re-education camps, biodata collection and heavy surveillance. The author interviews people and families going through it right now and it’s a really well-written report so click the link and read through it. Apparently it is the first in a series of reports to come out soon.

RFA reports that nearly 10% of residents from a town has been arrested.

I am hearing more about my friends’ families being taken into detention/re-education camps without any notice of when they will be allowed to leave. The police have quotas to fill, they say, and so people get taken in. I can no longer name any Uyghur friends who don’t have detained family and friends. Having relatives overseas is suspicious already. I met a person recently who had only gone there for a few weeks and the new friend they made there was taken in to “education” soon after they left. It’s heartbreaking.

More Kazakh people have been arrested for contacting family in Kazakhstan or having a copy of the Quran.

An Uyghur woman died due to an untreated medical condition after being detained by Chinese authorities. This Tweet talks more about the sorts of conditions detainees sometimes face in those prisons.

Arrested journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a report outlining the record number of journalists arrested this year. China was reported to have 41 journalists in prison, with most of the charges being something to do with being anti-state. RFA writes further on the matter and states that 13 of the 41 are Uyghur.

Education

Global Times reports teaching Han culture, Confucian analects, and socialist values in schools in Kuqa. “By learning traditional Chinese culture, China’s core competitiveness can be promoted”. Other things China seems to be doing to “build cultural confidence” is ban Christmas on campus. While I myself am a bit of a grinch I don’t think banning religious holidays is that best way to stop the influence of Western culture.

China is pushing its official version of history to Hong Kong students, which takes out keys events like the Tiananmen Square massacre and the Cultural Revolution.

Ethnic Unity

Party secretary Chen announces a month of “ethnic unity” building activities, including reprising the old program of having party cadres stay with Uighur families to monitor them:

every government employee and Party official in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region will be required to visit and even live with local families, in a bid to enhance ethnic unity in the region.

Government employees will be required to eat, live and work together with local people and pay for their meals during their week-long stay, according to the report, adding that the activity will be carried out over the remaining weeks of December.

 

Surveillance and security

The BBC team put China’s surveillance cameras to the test. It took them 7 mins to catch the reporter being tested. In general I don’t have anything against this sort of technology if it is put to good use, like catching criminals, but when things like protesting the government, praying, or gathering in groups deemed too ‘large’ without a permit are considered criminal, it is an incredibly easy system to abuse. Especially as they seem to want these surveillance systems to be able to predict criminal behaviour in the future:

“We can match your face to your car. We can match every face to an ID card. We can track your movements one week back in time… We can find your relatives, who you’re in touch with, and who you meet frequently.”

This is a report looking at the recent media campaigns in China that basically say everyone is responsible for the safety and security of China.

A researcher on Chinese issues, Adrian Zenz, reports that there are 1000s of poorly trained assistant police groups cropping up in China

A… fascinating… read on social credit scoring systems like Zhima Credit (in place since 2015)… and China’s move to having a national social credit system where everything you do is scored and you are ranked as a member of society. Y’know, ~soft totalitarianism~ lol.

 

Daily life…

Rian Thum, a historian on Uyghurs, is currently in the Uyghur region and his Tweets are pretty fascinating. Here is a thread on ethnic unity building (he offers more info for people who want to know more/write about it), facial recognition (again), Uyghur women waiting for men to leave Friday prayer, being turned away from shrines, This photo of cherishing ethnic unity like you cherish your eye because why the hell not:

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Apparently the crescent moons from the Id Kah Mosque have been removed:

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Human Rights Journalism – <recap>

A list of “The Best Human Rights Journalism in the World 2017” was released, and includes reporting on Uyghur issues such as:

The author of the list includes some of the best photography taken this year as well, and includes: shopkeepers forced to participate in “anti-terror” drill, Kashgar, Xinjiang (photo: Thomas Peters):

The following photo is from a series taken by Thomas Peters in Xinjiang. The series in general presents the breadth of Uighur life there, and every photo is excellent, but this is one of the few directly related to the Chinese government’s repression in the name of a war on terror. It’s just so ordinary, and the story behind it testifies to the ordinary coercion of the Uighurs’ everyday life under Communist Party rule. “Shopkeepers line up with wooden clubs to perform their daily anti-terror drill outside the bazaar in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, on March 24, 2017. Three times a day, alarms ring out through the streets of China’s ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, and shopkeepers rush out of their stores swinging government-issued wooden clubs. In mandatory anti-terror drills conducted under police supervision and witnessed by Reuters on a recent visit, they fight off imaginary knife-wielding assailants. Armoured paramilitary and police vehicles circle with sirens blaring.”

The Wider Image: Uighur heartland transformed into security state

 

Ilham Tohti Initiative

The Liberty Web interviewed Enver Can, Founder and President of The Ilham Tohti Initiative (ITI), about ITI and the Uyghur situation in general.

 

 

International

Apparently China has been learning to export its censorship over the years.

Tibet

Here’s a video of 770 Tibetan monks pledging to love China and Buddhism.

Australia

I honestly thought Dastyari quit last year when they found out he was being influenced by China but I guess third time’s the charm? I assume he’ll get some cushy sponsorship with a Chinese company next year, like most politicians who deal with China.

UK

The UK Parliament hosted the Roundtable on Organ Harvesting in China on December 13th, where Dolkun Isa spoke on putting the practice of organ harvesting in the context of the Chinese government’s repressive policies towards Uyghurs. You can read his full speech here. And Ethan Gutmann’s speech here.

Last week was international human rights day and there were demonstrations held in London.

Germany

According the Germany, Chinese intelligence is using LinkdIn and other social media platforms to establish contact with German politicians and officials. Also just… stop buying Huawei?

 

BRI

Belt and Road update: apparently its back on in Europe and the UK is putting a billion dollars or something. I heard there was some pushback from New Zealand and Europe but? I guess we’ll see?

 

Outside of Politics

David Brophy released an interesting article on called The 1957-58 Xinjiang Committee Plenum and the Attack on “Local Nationalism”. It includes some commentary on current day practices of the Communist Party as well.

For people who speak French: a video called The Silk Road and other wonders: Kashgar, the gateway to the middle empire, where the filmmakers go to Kashgar and then Tashkurgan.

Also, Adelaide will be hosting the annual East Turkistan Soccer Tournament next week! I wish they would check spelling and grammar when they make these posters honestly… oh well lol:

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