Before Anar Sabit’s story became public, I had read her poems online. They are full of poignant and vivid details perceived from inside the camp and personal experiences such as being on night guard duty, taking yard time, and witnessing the arbitrary detention and suffering of others with her own eyes. When I reached out to Anar to discuss the inspiration for these poems she told me that after what she had experienced in the camp and returning to the free world she had nightmares for an entire year. She has suffered from depression, fear, and low self-esteem. There was a time when she didn’t know if she could go on. Then one day she was advised to channel these traumas through writing. Anar humbly said that she is not really a writer or a poet type, but simply wanted to document what had happened to her and not forget them.
It’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder but, what if it just makes it feel emptier? Anyone who has lost someone they love can relate to this feeling. However, what if they just disappeared? Lacking information and holding on to memories from years past, Uyghur, Kazakh, and other minority groups in Xinjiang face this reality.
The mounting evidences of artificial intelligence surveillance and arbitrary detention in Xinjiang exacerbated the already tense public anxiety due to the worsening human rights condition in Kazakhstan. Surveillance becomes one of the key themes in artistic expression in Kazakhstan civil society.
Artist Shimizu Tomomi (清水ともみ) rendered Mihrigul Tursun‘s testimony given at US Congressional hearing in Manga form. Mihrigul’s testimony gave accounts of various torture and gender based violence inside one of the ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang. It is never easy to gather the courage to speak on the trauma and inhumane treatment from an unjust system, especially for Uyghurs; this could mean retaliation to their families from the Chinese government.
Kazakhstan is facing Chinese expansion and surveillance directly across the border. At the same time, the youths there are fighting against their government’s corruption and autocracy. Bravo to these young artists’ creative initiative to reflect the truth behind the government orchestrated tour of the Xinjiang ‘re-education camps’!
Artist Muhagant contributed this piece titled “Free… we want freedom.” Muhagant read a lot about Xinjiang human rights crisis on social media since Indonesian national TV seldom reports on it. He presents this illustration in solidarity with Uyghur struggle today.
Here is a Taiwanese artist’s reminder for people who are privileged to celebrate Mid-Autumn Day festival with their family members. “Remember there are many people who cannot reunite with their loved ones, there are many people who are drowning in pain and struggle… those who are arrested for no reason.”
Badiucao created the work titled “Xinjiang Auschwitz” on the 10th anniversary of the “7.5 Incident” which happened in Xinjiang in 2009—a violent clash broke out after long-term ethnic tensions came to a head, and was also a turning point for massive police surveillance and securitization of Xinjiang. The other work, “China’s Doctor of Death,” is inspired by an actual leaked photo from a concentration camp in Xinjiang. His work is an excellent visualization of how government policy aims to re-engineer Uyghur minds.
Sulu.art.co is an art collective who have generated iconic #MeTooUyghur images of dozens of Uyghur public figures and intellectuals who … More
by Yi Xiaocuo, Oct 14, 2019 In light of the PRC government’s overreach and censorship in the US today, this comic visualizes a thought experiment in which the American pop culture icons—The Simpsons—stand in the shoes of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic people in Xinjiang.