This is Tahir Hamut, one of the most renowned contemporary Uyghur poets, starting his life all over again in US at 47 years old. Displacement is not just the physical removal of one’s body from their native land. In the film, the psychological stress of uprooting and struggling hides in the silent gestures of his performance. Tahir is still writing, he writes poignantly about the distance between all the capital cities in which he has lived his life: Urumqi, Beijing, and Washington DC. The experiences of everyday life as an exile, a transnational being, struggles with immigration paperwork, survival, and witnessing the violence in homeland from afar… still linger and shape his poetry.
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.
What is it like to be a Uyghur student in Beijing suddenly snatched up by the Chinese police state? Addy McTague writes about the friendship she had with Zainur, a Uyghur student graduated from Beijing University of Chemical Technology. Zainur is disappeared by China’s Muslim crackdown since 2017. Addy, back in US, recollects her memories with Zainur and submitted a testimony for her.
On December 9, 2019, Kazakhstan National Security Committee announced the decision that Murager Alimuly and Qaster Musakhanuly, two young Kazakh men who fled Xinjiang, will be deported to China. This angered Kazakhstan public. A civil group took to action.
By an anonymous singer friend. Shared with artist’s permission on Sep 17, 2019. Featured image is credited to photographer Theo Paul. The image shows a skeleton of yurt in the open air. This is an object that symbolizes the reduced mobility for nomads in Xinjiang. Due to the state development projects, more pastoral nomadic populations were sedentarized or pressured to change their livelihood. Metal yurt structures replaced original wooden ones, which are dissembled and resembled quickly in mobile pastoral lifestyle.
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.
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.