My name is Gulnaz and I am a Uyghur Muslim


My name is Gulnaz and I am a Uyghur Muslim. My place of birth is East Turkestan but the world knows it as Xinjiang because China says so. When I was a child, entering my teenage, an eleven year old, my family flea “Xinjiang” and till then I had seen enough. Till then an 11 yr old girl had seen enough to understand that she was not safe in China. Today my age is 23 yrs and even after so many years, Xinjiang still Haunts me.
I remember being not allowed to attend school because I had to work in fields with my father. Sometimes I would work alone if my father was unwell. My little hands weren’t able to help much but I had no choice. I remember the eyes of Chinese guards looking at us in the market , it made me feel like I belong to a different planet which is disliked by them. This happened only because we were Uyghurs and Muslims. One Night, they stormed our house , checking every nook and corner. My mother hide me in the basement , gave me a little bottle with liquid in it and instructed me to drink it if an officer tries to touch me. Thankfully, nothing happened and we were told that these are normal search operations. But soon a horrific incident followed which forced us to flea the country.
One of my aunts in neighborhood was pregnant with her second child and her family was planning to send her away as Uyghurs weren’t allowed to have a second child. Somehow the Chinese officials came to know about my aunt and they forced her for abortion. In a dingy hospital room, one night, she died. Patime was 6 months pregnant and doctors operated her while risking her life.
This incident shocked my family and my father decided to leave China. We immediately fled to Turkey but kept changing places, sometimes countries, every two years or so.
All this time we kept hearing news about China’s crackdown on Uyghurs, Urumqi Massacre, demolishing mosques, arresting innocents and about their raids to find Uyghurs living abroad too. My father warned us to never reveal our Uyghur identities and refrained from teaching us about the Uyghur culture too. The terrifying news of Thailand detaining 300 Uyghurs and sending them back to China instilled fear in us again. The fact that no protests or hunger strikes by detained Uyghurs could save them made it clear that once China finds about our family then we will be punished too.
Despite of all the hardships we faced, My father never compromised with our education and he made sure that we got a good schooling. He thinks that only good education can lead us out of this path of slavery or fear. Today, he wants me to become a teacher so that I can contribute in making our world a better place for everyone. Although, I think that I am an activist from inside and whenever I listen or come across a news of Injustice , my blood boils and I become determined to do something. Our world has been seen as divided between First World and Third World countries but Uyghurs aren’t given place in any of those spheres. We are people living in a fourth country which has been left to suffer by the world leaders but Why? Aren’t Uyghurs Human beings too? So few years back, the Uyghur in me took over and I made my account on Twitter(@iamgul8).
Here I try to talk with as many people as I can to convey the struggle of Uyghurs in China. Why should we suffer just because we are Uyghurs or Muslims? What is our crime? Out of many people I contacted , some of them always asked about my story, so this is for them. But I can’t tell anything else because that can leave my family in trouble.
After this story, my chances of being chased by Chinese officials are increased and I may go silent . But our story is important . The world has long enough ignored Uyghurs and now they have to stand with us. Like many Uyghurs another Gulnaz may get abducted,tortured or killed but her fight, our fight against injustice must be continued by someone and it has to be you!
In search of a safe world,
Gulnaz Uighur
Advertisements

15 things You Need To Know About China’s Torture of Uyghur Muslims


By Gulnaz Uyghur

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is China’s largest provincial unit, accounting for one sixth of the Chinese territory. This region does not belong to the country as it was occupied in 1949. Uyghur Muslims are the ethnic population of this region and call this land, East Turkestan. Even after its occupation, the demands for freedom has always been alive and keeps growing due to the ruthless suppression of Muslims by the Chinese Government.

Below are the 15 ways through which Chinese authorities torture Uyghurs and suffocate them in their own land.

1. Forced Labour is Mandatory for Uyghurs

In Xinjiang, it is compulsory for Uyghur residents to participate in unpaid labor, called hashar. They are not provided any compensation for their labor and forced to pay for their own transportation and meal costs. Workers who are injured are also required to look after their own medical expenses. In some cases, if someone sends a family member to work, then Uyghurs need to pay a fine for that.
2. Children are also pulled out for forced labor

Uyghur families that do not have an able bodied young men are also not exempt from the system. Men and women as old as 70 and children as young as 12 are reported to have participated. Uyghur secondary school students are at times pulled out of classrooms in order to meet laborquotas.
3. Teenagers are arrested due to posts on social media

Young Uyghurs are arrested for posting comments on social media or watching Islamic videos online. Once a 15 yr old was arrested in the same case and sentenced for 10 years!.Other than this not many people are given internet connection and Police can arrest anyone for watching anything online! Uyghur homes are also raided for materials deemed “extreme” or “subversive.

4. Muslim farmers are required to sell below market rates

Government regulations require many Uyghur farmers to sell their produce to local governments at below market prices. This results in extreme poverty for the Uyghur families as they are not able to earn appropriate money to feed their own families.
5. Farmlands are confiscated by the government

It has become common for Chinese authorities to confiscate farmland and property of Uyghurs. These assets are then redistributed to Chinese migrants. Uyghurs who petition these practices are often charged without trial for “harming ethnic unity”.
6. Discrimination of Uyghurs

On paper, the Chinese migrants are shown equal to Uyghurs. In reality, they enjoy far more entitlements than Uyghur farmers. The Chinese migrants not only enjoy the freedom to harvest any crop, they can also take out bank loans and are entitled to greater water resources.
7. A man was shot for keeping a beard

No man, in Xinjiang is allowed to keep beard. Uyghur men refusing to shave their beards are frequently harassed, intimidated, with one man having been shot by police in one instance. According to the Chinese Government keeping a beard is a sign of being an extremist.
8. Most Uyghur don’t know about their basic rights

Most of the Uyghur population, especially those of the older generation, lack a basic knowledge of human rights and don’t even know their rights as citizens according to the constitution. This is because they have never been given these rights and lack of education has also played a very large role in it. Most of the times they are exploited by claiming that it’s a law.
9. Nikah is considered illegal in China

In April 2014, Chinese authorities instigated a system of rewards, some exceeding more than 50,000 Yuan (USD 7500), for whistle-blowers who reported on a range of illegal religious activities including the wearing of beards and the practice of Nikah, a traditional religious marriage ceremony. Chinese authorities take harsh steps to ban religious freedom in East Turkestan.
10. Muslims are ordered to sell Alcohol

Chinese authorities in Hotan County, Hotan Prefecture ordered shopkeepers to stock alcohol and cigarettes in a campaign to “weaken religion,” as Uyghur residents refrained from drinking and smoking for religious reasons. All these actions are a part of ‘Strike hard campaign’ by the government, which is actually a campaign against Uyghur Muslims.
11. Muslim names are banned

The Chinese Government has banned Muslim names in the region. The security officials go from house-to-house ordering parents to ensure that their children’s names do not fall on a list of 22 banned names. Which include mostly Muslim names. Uyghur parents are not even allowed to name their child according to their wish.
12. Imams are imprisoned

No one in Xinjiang is allowed to teach Quran outside the mosques. And children below 18 years old are not allowed to enter the Mosques. It is a crime to give any kind of teaching related to Islam in Xinjiang. Often parents are harassed for even keeping the Quran at home. Religious leaders often serve prison sentences for the peaceful observation and practice of Islam.
13. Every year Ramadan is banned

During the holy month of Ramadan, restaurants in Hotan have been forbidden from being shutting down. Workers are forced to participate in educational activities on atheism. Government servants, students and anyone working for the party is not allowed to celebrate Ramadan. Various competitions related to eating and drinking are organized in the region to force feed people during the month.
14. Women are forced to abort their child

Pregnant Uyghur women in stages of gestation as late as 9 months have been forced to undergo abortions in some cases under China’s one-child policy. This practice is still brutally followed in Xinjiang and Uyghur women are sometimes forced to flee their homes due to this.
15. Uyghurs are not allowed to leave China

In 2014, Chinese authorities in Hotan began limiting Uyghurs’ ability to travel, both domestically and abroad through passport restrictions. These restrictions have increased now as the police authorities are collecting the passports of Uyghurs and keeping them in the office. At present , it is impossible for Uyghurs to travel abroad as first they would need to face interrogation which will most probably result in their arrest.