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.
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.
This short film is based on Aziz Isa Elkun’s real life experience. Just like every ordinary British citizen, he takes his daughter to school on a beautiful day; just like every Uyghur living in exile, he has lost contact with his family, even their well-being has become questionable. Aziz interrogates this painful disjuncture and his identity becomes the answer. Yet, he tirelessly explains to the world what happened, unraveling his childhood, youth, and generational trauma inflicted by the Chinese state.
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.
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.