Diary From Urumqi Part 3

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

I knew that these problems could only be solved if the Uyghurs can organize at least like chickens in the American drama cartoon called “Chicken Run” but, the uyghurs’ situations is worse than those chickens in the cartoon, the Chinese government has already blocked any chance that the uyghurs may get organized. “The government had spies everywhere. Uyghurs can’t trust each other.” whispered one of my friends when we talked about the cartoon in her quite living room.
“I don’t trust my home too, the walls have ears” she added to respond to my surprised face.
I almost laughed, but there was no humor on her cute face. Her big brown eyes were seriously rejecting the question mark on my face.
“did you ever see that cartoon?” I whispered.
-Are you kidding? China bans those kind of things, I never have seen it, but I really want to.
-You should see it if there is any chance to find out that cartoon.
-9 pm almost, you have to go back to the Hotel.
-To tell the truth, I’m scared to sleep in the hotel room alone in this country, would you please come with me and sleep in my hotel room since you won’t let me sleep here?
-You know we have to register to the police station if you sleep here. Why do you have trouble sleeping in the hotel room anyway?
Trouble of sleeping in hotel room alone is my biggest trauma that followed from my nightmare in Beijing in 1997. I had accompanied my parents and arrived to Beijing in the hot summer of 1997 to be Uyghur Chinese interpreter for my father who applied to the business immigrant visa to Canada. Moving abroad was a big decision. But my father was very exited and seems to ready to give up everything for the chance of going abroad. My mom as well genuinely supportive to my father’s decision despite the non stop tears of her mom , brothers and sisters whose imagining this is a life time separation. I understood that how Uyghur families desperately need security and peace since One of my handsome brother was killed by Chinese in his age 20, myself and other two of my young brothers were always under threat because of our open views and critics on injustices of the the society.
I remember my brothers repeatedly arrest by the Chinese police forces one after another and my father had to pay huge money to release them each time when they were arrested. Chinese police officers always have a bunch of political reasons to arrest young Uyghur men and sometimes even without reason.
“I have money , but no security here. We cannot sleep at night, we cannot enjoy our meals and we always worrying about our children. if one of your brother do not come home one single night, I had to believe that he was killed by Chinese police in somewhere…” said my father, when I hesitate to live and said: “ Dad, you think are we doing right thing? No matter what maybe we shouldn’t leave from our home land. each Uyghurs abandoning this land creating space for Chinese.”
“ even we don’t live , they have already taken our land our country…” added my mom.
I took with me my 4–5 month old baby who is in breath feeding and follow my Dad and Mom traveled to Beijing. We had a difficulty to find hotel in Beijing since each hotel has a policy to not to accept “ Xinjiangren” ( although literately translation of Xinjiangren suppose to residents of Xinjiang, but the policy was specifically targeted Uyghurs). I was very tired in that hot day carrying my baby and searching for hotels, finally young Chinese girl one of the hotel reception gave us the idea that we may should go to the Xinjiang Ban shichu ( Xinjiang office)
Late night we finally found hotel room in the building of the Xinjiang office. I took same room with my mom. my baby was already sleeping in my hand and he even did not wake up for his milk when I put him in my bed. I took shover and immediately fall in sleep.
Bang! I found myself jump out of  the bed and holding my screaming baby when 4–5 black uniform police officers kick out our hotel room door and pointing a gun to us:
By Ahsan Posted in Uncategorized

Diary from Urumqi Part 2

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

I got the chance to take the following interview from him:
“Do you come from another city?” I asked.
“Yes, from the south of Xinjiang,” he responded.
“You look very young. Why don’t you go to school?” I asked.
He had a lot to say in response to my question. “Even if we have a degree, they don’t give us jobs. I know many Uyghurs who have a degree but still do not have jobs and have the same life as me. Last year, in my village, twenty of us kids, the youngest was twelve years old and the oldest was sixteen, followed one Chinese guy for work. He told he would take us to Bortala for work, and we followed him because he said that he would pay us. Like this I left my city and I haven’t been able to return up to now. He brought us to one village in Bortala. That village was full of Chinese and there were not any Muslims. We explained to him that we don’t eat pork and that we only eat halal meat, so everyday he gave us vegetable soup and one piece of Chinese bread from a Chinese family. At that time, we didn’t have any choice and we ate whatever he gave us. We worked for Chinese peasants for one month, starting at 6 o’clock in the morning until it got very dark outside, without any rest. After one month the guy paid us 50 jiao [half a yuan] for each day and then abandoned us. Think about it. Only 15 yuan total [about $ 2 USD], equal to one day’s worth of food for a normal person in Urumqi.”
“Didn’t you guys tell the government this? Didn’t the guy receive any punishment for this?” I asked.
“The law is for the Chinese,” he said. “Even if we had complained, nobody would have listened” Then I didn’t have any choice and I went to Urumqi to look for work. I thought Urumqi is a big city and maybe I can find a way to survive. I started by helping to clean up someone’s barber shop and I slept in the barbershop at night. After that, I found some kids who were like me and I slept in their small room offered by one of the Uyghur restaurant owner. We decided to make our own sweets and to sell them on the street, but they didn’t let us do this either. Not only did they throw everything on the ground and destroyed the few sweets that we had made with much difficulty, but they took all of my money as well. Now I have to go hungry again until I find another job. If I go to a Uyghur restaurant and ask for food, maybe they would give me free food one time, but I am shy, because I’m healthy and young. I don’t like to ask free thing. Why is this world so dark for us? We never did anything bad. We didn’t steal something from someone.”
He continued, “The government didn’t give this Tungan [Hui] woman a death sentence, who was caught with 2 kg heroin) When the people start to forget her a little bit, I’m sure they will accept a bribe and release her. For us, it is impossible to survive even with a clean job. Now I understand why some Uyghurs risk their lives and go to Beijing to sell heroin.”.
Listening to his story, I felt very sad. I thought, “How can I help them? Financial help? But this cannot help them survive forever…” I called one of my closest friend in Urumqi who was managing his uncle’s restaurant;
-I got a boy for you; do you have a place for him?
-Don’t tell me you are trying to collect jobless boys and girls at the street, sweetie.
-So what? He has no place to go
-We already have 30 kids working here. All of them are homeless, if he has a home sent him back please.
-I don’t think it is a good idea, he has nothing to eat if he goes back.
-I know you’re gonna insist, send him to me, I am in Budun restaurant right now.
-Oh! My God, thank you! God bless you!
-But stop collecting jobless people, you know we don’t have a binanchu ( refugee camp ) here
-Stop it! Ok, I know that…
The boy that I send to my friend got the job from Uyghur restaurant, but what about the thousands of other young, jobless and desperate Uyghurs? I couldn’t answer, because there was no answer.
What else did Rukiye Turdush found in Urumqi? Keep reading the Diary From East Turkestan
By Ahsan Posted in Uncategorized

Diary from Urumqi

p { margin-bottom: 0.1in; line-height: 120%; }

After a grueling train ride, we finally arrived in Urumqi, my city. However, I didn’t even feel like I was in my city until I reached Yen’en road and the Dong Kowruk area because I didn’t see any Uyghurs on the streets. The Chinese had occupied every place. Uyghurs were squeezed into Yen’en road and Dong Kowruk. They did business with each other in this area. Some Uyghurs who had a little bit of money had small businesses, such as small restaurants. My friends refused to give any interview to film maker. one of my friend was so angry and said to me in a quite restaurant in Uyghur: don’t walk at the street with him, uyghurs will hate you, we don’t trust them anymore, Americans sold us, they enlisted Uyghur freedom fighters as a terrorist in UN Terrorist list. I know you said that he is Canadian, but they are all the same shit.
Film maker was extremely upset that I cannot find for him anybody for his interview.
I explained to film maker the Uyghur frustration about westerners and asked him to enjoy with his beauty shots and to leave me alone for a while. I invited him to a nice Uyghur restaurant at lunch on forth day of Urumchi. he was getting very angry wanted to quit his work and go back to Canada right away.
“ look, I am not your personal interpreter, it is impossible to do this work if you want me to stick with you always, if you do not want to continue, up to you then, you can go back, but I will stay. I know you are alone, do not know the language here and frustrated, but again you are not hiring me, we are cooperating here. I ‘ll give all of the information that I got, but please don’t try to follow me always, if anywhere is convenient I’ll call you and take you with me.” he did not say anything and went back to his hotel room.
I was relieved and felt more independent, because it was extremely hard to work with the film maker who is following me like my little child.
Poor Uyghurs secretly engaged business on the street by selling homemade food or homemade handicrafts, always fearing the market police who would look for them. With my own eyes, I witnessed Chinese market police beating young boys and old women who were selling their wares on the street, throw their wares on the ground, and search them, taking what little money they had. Some sellers who resisted the police brutality only a little bit were arrested.
“Did you see that?” a Uyghur businessman with fur Russian hat who is trying to sell me silk scarf in his windowless wooden store said: “The police are real bandits in this country!” his clean shaved sharp chin was tightened with anger. We can’t do anything, hide your camera, fast! They don’t care you are the guest or women; they will destroy your camera and arrest you.” I hide my camera and quietly left from head scarf store and secretly followed the boy who had been left empty-handed by the market police.
What happened when Rukiye followed the boy? Keep following this space to read the next part.
By Ahsan Posted in Uncategorized


Note: This Diary was written by Rukiye Turdush while she visited East Turkestan ( illegally known as Xinjiang)  in November 2003. The present situation has only got worse for Uyghurs living in East Turkestan now.

I had left my country almost four years before. In the summer of 2002, one of my friends introduced me to a journalist who was interested in making a documentary film about my country, East Turkestan. He was looking for someone to accompany him but I could not find the right person for him, and so finally I decided to go with him myself. Coincidentally, I had been eager for a long time to travel every inch of my motherland as well, given that I had never been to any other cities in East Turkestan other than Gulja and Urumqi. However, all of my close friends and family members, including my parents, disagreed with my decision. All of them thought that it would be a very dangerous trip for me. Some of them even said that if the Chinese authorities became suspicious of you, they would kill by staging a car accident or some other kind of accident. “Do you want your five-year old son to lose his mother?” they asked me.
I was hesitating a little bit but I did not want to change my mind and believed what my gut feeling keep telling me : “ If everyone had been scared about taking risks in the past, no one would have ever done anything meaningful.” I staring at mirror, The young women’s face on the mirror smiled at me, she look calm and serious. I left front of the mirror, my 5th flour bedroom window was wide open, white cream color curtains are slightly moving through September’s mild wind. Outside was beautiful, I can see the red maple leaf threes and busy cotedes neiges street from the window. cars are slowly running out from Timhorton’s drive thorugh way at the corner. People from different origin are staying on the line in the the bus stop front of my apartment building, when the bus arrive they politely smiled each other and yielded each other. 
I saw few Chinese people on the line and they were so polite like others. I start to think about the bus stops in Shanhai, while I was student in East China Normal University in Shanghai, everyone glued each other, push and squize, even kick and fight, it is a war for the bus…. I have to go again to that glued and aggressive world, totally different world that I escaped before…..- still some hesitation and another worry came out: “My people have become so paranoid because of Chinese oppression. If all of them are scared and nobody is willing to give me an interview when I go there, what will I do? If I come back empty handed, then it is better not to go at all.” I didn’t know what the right decision was, I troughed myself again into too much mixed feeling. Better I prey to God and ask guidance, I always prey to God ask guidance whenever I need to take tough decision. I prayed to God and asked him to give me the right decision, than opened the Koran, and as soon as I opened it, I saw the following “sure” I don’t know it was coincidence or I accidently opened this page . but I truly believed that this was not accident and God want me to go:
There is no excuse for anyone to plead that he cannot do well or was forced to do evil by his circumstances and surroundings, or by the fact that he lives in evil times. We must shun evil and seek well. The creation of Allah is vast enough to enable us to do so provided that we have the will, the patience, and the perseverance. If we look at the animal creation we see many creatures that seem almost helpless to be able to find their own food or to sustain their full life, being surrounded by many enemies, yet in the plan of Allah they find full sustenance and protection (translation of the Holy Koran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).
Those words swept away all of the worries from my head. “God stays with people who fight for justice”, I said to myself. As soon as I obtained my Canadian passport, I left for my motherland with French journalist and with feelings of hope and confidence.
As the journalist and I traveled by train from Beijing to Urumqi by train, I had a conversation with a Chinese man from Beijing. He was staring at me with his small eyes with curiosity as all other Chinese do when they see the foreigner. I had no doubt that he was a middle class government worker due to his yellow stained glass tee bottle that Chinese government officials used to keep in their office table.
“What a boring trip” I said in Chinese on purpose to open conversation with him.
How come do you speak Chinese? He smiled with surprise.
“Beijing never feels secure and always worries about Uyghurs”, he said to me once he knew that I was Uyghur.
“Why?” I asked him, pretending not to understand anything.
“Why? Because they always want to be independent. We think that those people who want to be independent are crazy. Don’t they know how powerful China is? Don’t they know the speed with which China is developing? For China, the Uyghurs are nothing. Look, we don’t want to give independence to Taiwan, how can we give it to Xinjiang? Actually, we would also like to take Mongolia. If Taiwan would declare independence, China would never even think about the fact that they are the same nationality as the Chinese, and they would bomb them, destroy them, and kill them!”
I thought to myself, “ Nothing is impossible if Allah wants it. In comparison to God’s power, China’s power is nothing.”I continued talking with the Chinese man. I said, “I think that the Taiwanese are Han as well, but they want to become independent. I remember when I was overseas I asked one Taiwanese lady whether or not she was Chinese. She became unhappy and said that she was not Chinese but that she was Taiwanese. So I think that there is nothing to be surprised about us — Uyghurs — because we are completely different from Chinese.”
“But you guys are very weak. No army, no weapons. For you guys, independence is like a daydream. In past years Uyghurs demonstrated but the government suppressed them all. Now Uyghurs can’t even open their mouths; they have become very quiet.”
“If they have become quiet, why did you say that Beijing never feels relieved of the Uyghurs?”
“Because even if they don’t let it show, they hate us inside.”
I laughed and said,“You are right. Between you guys and us there is no space for friendship!”
He responded, “But not all Uyghur girls think like you. I know some Uyghur girls who have married Chinese men.,”
“Maybe they couldn’t find a way to survive and married Chinese men just to be able to live, but I don’t believe those are real marriages,” I said.
“You are right,”he said,. “If Chinese men wouldn’t consider the beauty of Uyghur girls, they would know that it is difficult to get along with them.”
“I think that you guys really can’t accept Uyghurs,” I said. “So which nationalities do the Chinese like in Xinjiang?”
“Of course, if you want me to tell you the truth, we don’t like any of the nationalities,” he said “‘Two can’t separate’,( two cannot separate policy was referred to Uyghur and Han Chinese nationalities in East Turkistan) ‘Unity of all nationalities’, and so on, those are slogans. All of them are empty words. We only give them lip service., We can’t get along with Uyghurs and Uyghurs do not like us at all. But Kazaks are very quiet people. Conflict doesn’t happen with them easily.”
“Because they have an independent country, you forgot that part!” I said, filling out his statement, but quickly realized that I am going farther in the sensitive subjects that can cause suspicion. I left for a walk inside the train, and passed hard chair wagons: dirt, along with stenches was everywhere, tired people are sleeping under chairs appearing as if they were dead. It was impossible to walk through; Chinese passengers were stepping across them.
Almost all of them were empty handed poor Han Chinese settlers in the train, looking for better opportunities in East Turkistan. They saw that I was stuck in the door and couldn’t step over the sleeping people on the floor, started to encourage me and some of them saying: “go, go, that is ok, doesn’t matter.”
“Oh, No!” I said, and didn’t go any further; I just stayed beside the door step and started a conversation with a Chinese woman who was carrying two babies, and was just sitting on the empty space on the floor, front of a toilet with her husband.
“American?| Ask her husband surprisingly with a Shandong accent.
-No! Americans are blond..
-But they have some brown hair too..
People around him start to argue and tried to guess where I was from.
-Must be French… French girls are pretty
-How come she does not have blue eyes?
-She doesn’t have a fair skin at all, French people have fair skin…
-You crazy guy, I saw too many Americans with brown eyes and yellow eyes, she must be American!
I felt dozens of small eyes and flat faces pressed around me and I was very uncomfortable with that much attention, I wanted to escape right away, but I didn’t since I was curious as much as they curious about me.
“I know that there is a one child policy in China, but how come you managed to get two kids?” I said to the Chinese woman, while ignoring the curious faces.
-She speaks Chinese!
-How come she speaks Chinese!?
-Wait a minute, maybe she is from Xinjiang, she is not just telling us the truth, Uyghurs look like foreigners ( lao wai). I know that..
“I learned the Chinese. I am Spanish” — I replied quickly and frimly. I don’t know why I said I am Spanish. While in Canada I was told many times by others that I look like Spanish. I was thinking it is the best way to hide my identity as I do not reavel that I am Uyghur to do not want to be the subject of the conversation again:
“ so why do you guys going to Xinjiang?” I ask them
– We heard that we can have a many kids over there , government policy toward Chinese immigrants were very loose and beneficial. You can hide and can get as much as kids you want. Also Xinjiang is very rich place, easy to make money..
– But, I heard that lot of unemployment among Uyghurs in Xinjiang, how could you sure that you can find a job? I interrupt them.
– Government help us find a job, Xinjiang people are wild and lazy, they don’t work. we have to go to develop Xinjiang.
– So, your guys just like Xinjiang but do not like the people? I ask again.
– Yes, because Xinjiang people are mainly Uyghurs, they are totally different from us, looks like foreigners, they don’t eat pork, because pig is their ancestors and they pray to pig.
– No, I know that, they don’t pray to pig, pig is not their God. Mohammad is their God, they start to argue again.
– “ Wrong! Mohammad is not a God of Muslims and pig is animal, can’t be ancestor of Human!” I sharply break the conversation. I couldn’t control myself, I am totally pest of. I don’t know were they got those crap. Are they trying to create bad image of Uyghurs, so saying with purpose? Or they were misinformed by the government ? it was not clear….
I really want to ask too many question from them, but the rude and noisy police officers sudden appeared beside us and staring at me with suspicious eyes that deeply interrupted me. I pretend to waiting for the line front of the washroom. Toilet door was locked, so I turned back and left from the hard chair wagon to look for another washroom …
By Ahsan Posted in Uncategorized

My Travel Journal and Todays East Turkistan

I will always remember how angrily and strongly I had rejected what a film maker told me about Uyghurs before we left East Turkistan in 2001, at the end of our risky trip to China.
“Your people are dying, if I made a documentary the title will be requiem for Uyghurs. I didn’t see anything in here, except people who are slowly dying and disappearing from this world. I couldn’t see anything even tears of cry, but acceptance of slavery, weakness, numbness and being ready to be buried for forever… ”
“No! You are totally wrong!” I immediately cut the French filmmaker with my broken French as he didn’t speak English. “Vous ne comprenez pas mon peuple! Ils ne meurent pas, ils ne vont pas mourir et disparaissent!” (You don’t understand my people! They are not dying, they are not going to die and disappear! )
I was a rebellious young woman and my blood boiled with everything at that moment. The filmmaker, probably very scared of my outrageous eyes, shut his mouth and looked away.
But maybe he was right, Uyghurs are under tremendous pressure and it is impossible for them to even move slightly. Something inside me stubbornly rejected the reality and I strongly believed that my people will not accept slavery and slow death. I strongly believed that I would, one day, see how they can stand up against China, that one day I would see freedom. Maybe that was a hope that came from GOD, maybe that was my faith in my people, maybe both.
Eight years after the argument with the filmmaker, the outburst of the July 5th incident, brave uprising of Uyghur youths in East Turkistan against the red communist China’s oppressive policies proved and refreshed my memory and hope. Even though Uyghurs were crudely repressed and the uprising ended up with the death of thousands of Uyghurs, it left the Uyghurs’ souls alive once again — Uyghurs were not dying.
Today, compared to the situation that I wrote in my diary 15 years ago the situation in East Turkistan is much worse. Religion is strictly forbidden and new legislation was announced for the implementation of many restrictions. Parents are not allowed to teach children religion at home. Halal food logos are banned. Circumcision for Uyghur boys has been banned along with Islamic funeral ceremonies. Chinese market police crackdowns on the streets that I witnessed 15 years ago seems like a normal issue compared to how today, the Chinese army is regularly searching every Uyghur at midnight.
It is common to search only Uyghurs at police check points. They block the streets and search Uyghur homes at night in order to arrest young Uyghurs and spread terror. Some Uzbek friends who visited East Turkistan recently told me that it has been over two years that many Uyghurs are not dare to sleep with their pajamas at night, and put on their full clothes because of the night raids on their homes. I can’t imagine the trauma they have to endure every night. The people who opened Uyghur mother language daycare centers were arrested and all Uyghur daycare centers were shut down.
Many young and talented Uyghurs were arrested for no reason and mysteriously disappeared from the prison. However, it seems that is not enough for China as the Chinese government started pressurizing the families of Uyghur students abroad, forcing them to return. Many returned, but disappeared in reeducation camps that have been established by China for Uyghurs, bearing a striking resemblance to Nazi concentration camps in Germany before and during the Second World War.
Recently, students in Egypt who refused to return were rounded up by Egyptian police. While some escaped, dozens were repatriated and more than a hundred are still incommunicado in Egyptian jails. They were interrogated by Chinese police officials invited to Egypt and forced to confessions that they have contacts with some or the other terrorist organization from all around the world. Despite it being very obvious that China is orchestrating the Egyptian police round of Uyghurs, the Chinese consulate in Egypt is pretending that China has nothing to do with the issue.
The Chinese consulate also kept telling the world that there is no oppression in East Turkistan and they are only combating terrorism. Even Chinese officials said Xinjiang muslims ( East Turkistan Uyghurs) are happiest in world. Sadly, the Yarkand massacre in East Turkistan killed thousands of Uyghur civilians. Testing Chinese military drones in the name of catching terrorists in legitimate for China, but is it terrorism if a desperate and oppressed Uyghur man takes a Chinese official’s or a few Chinese police officers’ lives to get revenge for his dead children or raped wife?
To establish Chinese character and the new world order over US global leadership with the so called OBOR project, China is searching every nook and cranny to recruit follower governments. To gain their trust, it is acting deviously and hiding its own brutality.
As we all know, American invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has allowed the notorious CIA to torture Iraqi prisoners. Americans support the blocking democracy in the Middle East to get cheap oil from dictators, but the Middle East population hates the US global dominance. According to US poll agencies, Arab opinion in the Middle East seriously regards USA and Israel as the major threats they are countering. Approximately 80% of Egyptians strongly oppose the US policy. The success of China’s opportunistic steps to global dominance should be viewed against this background as well.
Besides, China’s economic rise allows it to expand its military spending and increase it aggressiveness with confidence. Meanwhile, the United States’ withdrawal from Asia under President Trump, the only power that can offset China, has turned on the green light for China to abuse human rights openly.
Distorting the history of East Turkistan, trying to hide its invasion in East Turkistan and the brutal oppression against the Uyghurs, are part of the cold reality created by China and welcomed with silence by the whole world.
I was lucky to be back safely maybe because China was less dangerous compared to what it was like in today.
Brave Canadian journalist Mr. Vander Klippe, who tried to visit the Elishku Township of Yarkand County of East Turkistan last week was detained by Chinese police and his computer was confiscated.
Mr.Usman A Khan Tahir, the senior editor of “Pakistan Today” may face to be seen as an Indian agent by some pro-China officials in Pakistan under pressure of Chinese consulate. As he trying to bring Uyghur voices to Pakistani media, in attempt to highlight their suffering.
Only the journalists like Mr. Vander Klippe and Mr.Usman A Khan Tahir are the brave voices today who dare to destroy China’s game of playing innocent regarding the oppression against Uyghurs. Emperor has no clothing, Journalists like them are the honest kid here who dare to tell the crowd that the emperor has no clothing.
It is not clear when the world will hear these voices and scream — “emperor has no clothing,” at least once and respond to the brutal truth, the truth that is much worse than what is in my travel journal.
By Ahsan Posted in Uncategorized