The term “genocide” began to be used by more and more scholars and activists to describe the situation in Xinjiang. In her essay, “‘Never again?’ It’s already happening,” Anne Applebaum compared global indifference to the Xinjiang atrocities today to indifference toward the famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1933, which was widely covered in western media at the time like Xinjiang today. Fred Hiatt used “Kristallnacht” (Night of Broken Glass) — the destruction of synagogues, cemeteries, and Jewish businesses — to describe the mass demolition of Mosques and Muslim cemeteries in Xinjiang today.
Forgive me, I love you
Minam began to collect stories from the Uyghur diaspora to send to human rights organizations. Very quickly, she was inundated by the intense pain in these stories. They all have a common theme: family separation. “I don’t know if they are alive or not,” has become a catchphrase to describe the broken state of diaspora Uyghur family life, the same goes for many Xinjiang Kazakh refugees who fled to Kazakhstan.
Art of memory, act of survival, or vice versa
“Anjur (fig fruit)—is one of my favorite fruits! It always reminds me of my home and my beloved father! I ate my first fig fruit from my family’s orchard many many decades ago… now it all becomes memory!”
Aziz Isa Elkun traveled through Central Asia and the taste of anjur opened up a portal to his past, however, this past sweetness was immediately cancelled by the brutal present. Just several hundred kilometers away across China’s border, his family’s whereabouts is unknown.
My heart is like a burning forest inside
Sübhi’s poem depicts a Uyghur woman publicly experiencing cultural aggression from a group of ethnic Han men. At the moment, the state’s purge and cultural genocide of Uyghurs is working in Han men’s favor, allowing them to reach Uyghur women previously unattainable to them, resulting in many involuntary inter-ethnic marriages.
Three Poems by Uyghur Poets in Exile
Originally published on Darren Byler’s Xinjiang Column on SupChina, March 6 2019
Shared with authors’ permission, Sep 22, 2019
Fatimah Seyyah’s Poetry for Mother
Fatimah has testified for her mother and her people on different platforms many times, but this time she chose to present a poem to the world.
Juxkun, a concerned friend of Xinjiang, also designed this T-shirt to address the issue of China’s resource extraction in Xinjiang. Besides the cotton and oil industries, Xinjiang produces more than 70% of China’s tomatoes and a significant portion of canned and processed tomatoes for export into the global economy, for example Heinz tomato ketchup.
Juxkun’s Honest Labeling of Xinjiang Products
After seeing that Muji not only sources Xinjiang cotton but also brazenly advertises it, Juxkun, a concerned friend of Xinjiang, took to action. He customized a stamp from a local stationery store including a QR code link to a WSJ article about Xinjiang forced labor, then he stamped it onto the Muji shirt tags in hope of educating the consumers about the stories behind the Muji shirt.
A strange planet many, many light years away
A police walks up to an empty mosque
This is an otherworldly image, almost like a storm trooper on patrol on one of the empire’s colonial outposts. Photographer Theo Santana has walked the earth freely but never encountered the level of security checks and surveillance like in China’s Xinjiang. He shared these photos online at the end of 2018.
Yangisar on the abyss poses questions for the people who are forced into an exiled, stateless life, a life in which everyday existence is precarious and uncertain just like in this picture.