China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity

By: Austin Ramzy

Rahile Dawut, above with camera, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. She was detained in December 2017 and has not been heard from since. Lisa Ross

ISTANBUL — As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region.

It was a line that Mr. Mamut navigated successfully for 26 years, eventually rising to become editor in chief of the Communist Party-controlled magazine Xinjiang Civilization before retiring in 2011.

“My father is very smart; he knows what is the red line, and if you cross it you are taken to jail,” said his son, Bahram Sintash, who now lives in Virginia. “You work very close to the red line to teach people the culture. You have to be smart and careful with your words.”

Then last year, the red line moved. Suddenly, Mr. Mamut and more than a hundred other Uighur intellectuals who had successfully navigated the worlds of academia, art and journalism became the latest targets of a sweeping crackdown in the region of Xinjiang that has ensnared as many as one million Muslims in indoctrination camps.

The mass detention of some of China’s most accomplished Uighurs has become an alarming symbol of the Communist Party’s most intense social-engineering drive in decades, according to scholars, human rights advocates and exiled Uighurs.

As the guardians of Uighur traditions, chroniclers of their history and creators of their art, the intellectuals were building the Central Asian, Turkic-speaking society’s reservoir of collective memory within the narrow limits of authoritarian rule. Their detention underscores the party’s attempts to decimate Uighur identity in order to remold the group into a people who are largely secular, integrated into mainstream Chinese culture and compliant with the Communist Party, observers say.

The Chinese government has described the detentions as a job training program aimed at providing employment opportunities for some of the country’s poorest people. But a list of more than 100 detained Uighur scholars compiled by exiles includes many prominent poets and writers, university heads and professors of everything from anthropology to Uighur history.

“The fact that highly educated intellectuals and academics and scientists and software engineers are being held in these facilities is one of the best counterarguments to authorities’ claims that this is some kind of educational program meant to benefit Uighurs,” said Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The removal of high-profile Uighur scholars familiar with the Chinese government, and the country’s education and legal systems, is aimed at erasing not only the group’s unique ethnic identity but also its ability to defend such traditions, said a Uighur professor now living in Istanbul who asked not to be identified because of possible risks to family in Xinjiang.

Qurban Mamut, a magazine editor in Xinjiang who has been detained.
“My father is very smart; he knows what is the red line,” his son said. Bahram Sintash

Many scholars trace the assault on intellectuals to the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist, in 2014. Mr. Tohti, who was an outspoken critic of the discrimination Uighurs face in China, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of separatism.

More detentions came in 2017. Many of those targeted worked on preserving Uighur culture.

Rahile Dawut, one of the most well known of the disappeared Uighur academics, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. Ms. Dawut was detained in December 2017 and hasn’t been heard from since.

Before the crackdown, the Uighur intellectual elite offered a bridge between the body of Uighur society, who number about 11 million and are largely poor farmers, and the much wealthier Han Chinese, who dominate economic and political power. The scholars also worked carefully to try to improve the lot of a group that complained of widespread discrimination and draconian restrictions on religious activity.

These scholars offered a moderate path, where Uighurs could maintain religious and cultural practices without turning to extreme and isolationist ideas, said Rune Steenberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen.

“This is the really big tragedy about the clampdown,” Dr. Steenberg said. “They were actually bridge builders of integration of broader Uighur society into modern Chinese society and economy.”

Many young Uighurs have been inspired by the scholars’ accomplishments, said Erkin Sidick, a Uighur engineer who went to the United States for graduate school in 1988 and now works on telescopes for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mr. Sidick said hundreds would attend informal talks he gave on pursuing graduate degrees and many closely studied a book he published that compiled biographies of Uighur academics.

“Uighur people value education very much,” he said.

Now, Uighurs keep a grimmer list of Uighur intellectuals — those who have disappeared in the current campaign.

Tahir Hamut, a Uighur poet who lives in Virginia, began working with other Uighur exiles to collect the names of those detained over the past year based on news reports and information from families and classmates. The list has now grown to 159 Uighurs and five others from other minority groups.

“These people are all the most prestigious in Xinjiang,” Mr. Hamut said. “They are models who all study diligently and raise themselves up. Their arrest is a great injury, a great attack to all Uighurs.”

The Chinese authorities have accused Uighurs in official positions of being “two-faced,” or mouthing the official line in public but resisting the crackdown in private. Such labels have surrounded the removal of several top administrators at universities in Xinjiang.

Many scholars trace the assault on intellectuals to the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti,
a Uighur economist, in 2014.CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

The Xinjiang government propaganda department and the news office for the State Council, China’s cabinet, did not respond to faxed requests for comment. But officials in Xinjiang have clearly stated their resolve to pursue people they see as hindering efforts to rewire Uighurs and steer them from what authorities have called religious extremism.

“Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins,” wrote Maisumujiang Maimuer, a religious affairs official, in a commentary in the state news media. “Completely shovel up the roots of ‘two-faced people,’ dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.”

The campaign has not spared scholars who expressed support for the party, such as Abdulqadir Jalaleddin, a scholar of medieval Central Asian poetry at Xinjiang Normal University who worked to preserve Uighur culture and identity.

“He was a very moderate man who always tried to give a balanced view, so much so that a lot of Uyghur nationalists accused him of selling out to the regime,” Rachel Harris, who studies Uighur music at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and has known Mr. Jalaleddin for more than a decade, said in an email. (Uyghur is an alternative spelling of Uighur.)

Last year, Mr. Jalaleddin joined a government-led campaign for prominent Uighurs to write open letters declaring their allegiance to the state.

Despite that declaration, he was detained in January 2018, according to overseas Uighur organizations.

“So many moderate intellectuals have been detained now,” Dr. Harris said. “I don’t know how else to understand this, except as a deliberate policy to deprive Uyghurs of their cultural memory.”

It is a pattern that has repeated itself in the far western region. The authorities targeted Uighur intellectuals after the People’s Liberation Army occupied Xinjiang in 1949, and even before in the late 1930s, when Xinjiang was ruled by a Soviet-backed warlord, said Ondrej Klimes, a researcher with the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences who studies Xinjiang and the Uighurs.

“It makes the community easier to be subjugated, more cooperative, more docile,” Dr. Klimes said. “You have this whenever an authoritarian regime comes, they first target intellectuals.”

By detaining so many influential figures, the government appears to be acknowledging that its efforts to woo Uighurs to accept the primacy of the Chinese state have failed, and that it must use more forceful methods, Dr. Steenberg said.

“The government has lost,” he said, “and now like a chess player about to lose, it swipes the board.”

The Source

هل يعمل الاتحاد الدولي لعلماء المسلمين من أجل الأمة ؟

الناشط الإيغوري عبدالغني ثابت:

هل هذه المنظمة (الاتحاد الدولي لعلماء المسلمين) تعمل فعلا من أجل الأمة الإسلامية؟

إن كانت تعمل إذا كيف ذلك؟ نحن الأويغور المسلمون في تركستان الشرقية نعاني من النظام الصيني منذ 68 عاما.
أنا شخصيا كتبت عدة مرات .لهذه المنظمة عن محنتنا، لكنني لم أتلق أي رد

هل هؤلاء العلماء يعيشون في هذا العالم أم في كوكب آخر؟

منذ ما يقرب من عامين تغطي وسائل الإعلام الدولية ما يجري في معسكرات الاعتقال الصينية في تركستان الشرقية.

أعلنت الصين بالفعل الحرب ضد الإسلام وأعلنت الإسلام أنه “معد” ومرض نفسي وعقلي في جميع أنحاء المنطقة.

الناشط الإيغوري عبدالغني ثابت

لماذا هؤلاء العلماء المسلمين هادئين؟ ما هي مسؤوليتهم؟

How is China fooling everyone?

How is China fooling everyone?

 By Rukiye Turdush
“We are not confiscating Qur’an. That is an entirely distorted story of Radio Free Asia.”
The Chinese officials denied that their government was attacking Islam in East Turkistan. They claimed that the story of Chinese authorities confiscating the Quran and prayer mats was fabricated. However, a viral audio announcement via China’s enormous social media apps – WeChat – had demanded Uyghur Muslims to submit their holy books and prayer rugs.
In an interview with RFA, a Chinese Communist Party member had said that they were seizing prayer mats with pictures of Ka’aba and Qur’an that Uyghur Muslims were not allowed from engaging in entertainment activities – referring to alcohol and smoking – if they had photos of Ka’aba and Qur’an at home. 
A Chinese government official stated in Xinjiang Daily that people should not believe the lies that western media was spreading against them. He further said that Uyghur Muslims were the “happiest people in the world” and stability they had restored in Xinjiang.
In fact, Uyghurs are classified as Islamic extremists in these days if they differentiate between halal and haram, or they absent in Chinese flag-raising ceremony in case, or they couldn’t memorize Chinese red songs. Every Uyghur person can confirm that at least one member of each Uyghur family is in jail because of wearing a headscarf, having holy verses in phones, preserving Uyghur mother tongue and teaching children about God.
It is also well known that China is forcing Uyghur students from all over the world to return home.
 “Police already have questioned my wife many times; they told her that if I don’t return in this summer, she will be arrest along with my baby. I know I can’t come back again to continue my school if I return, and they will take me directly to detention center upon my arrival. But I have to go back, I can’t put my wife and my baby at risk” said Uyghur student in the United States, who requested anonymity.”
China’s motive of oppression on Uyghurs is to arrive their desired satisfaction of famous Chinese proverb dictates, “fen lin er tian, jie zee er yu” (Burn a forest to farm and drain a pond to fish.)
East Turkistan (also called Xinjiang in Chinese) is rich with oil and natural resources, and it is the significant gate of China’s OBOR plan, which aims to dominate the world. Beijing attacked culture, religion, and language of people of East Turkistan and devised security measures by turning them into Nazi camps to burn the Uyghurs like a forest or kill them like a fish by draining their history and culture.
Although available evidence contradicts what China claims, Chinese government firmly believe that as long as they are not admitted and not going to see their ugly behavior, no one can see it. In fact, this is precisely like what another Chinese proverb said that “stealing a bell with ears plugged.” it Sounds like China is fooling itself, but it is apparent that stealing the bell with ears plugged in here is aim to deceive the whole world.
Governments in the free world hesitate in mentioning China’s human rights’ (HR) violation and humiliate China in bilateral meetings to obtain trade benefits. Governments remained silent because of their economic interests when Uyghur professor Ilham Toxti sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014. Middle Eastern allies have turned a blind eye to Uyghur Muslims. Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum silently accepted China’s HR violation as a driver of Canada’s economic growth. In a recent meeting between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, Trump failed to mention China’s HR violations.  If China did not deny its oppressive behavior, are these governments would be still silent? Probably not, because, being silent within the excuse of being fooled by others creates less guilt than being silent without any explanation. 
The Chinese Communist party has brainwashed leaders, journalists, government employees and ordinary Chinese citizens into believing that they conceal the truth for political benefits. As a result, none of the regular Han Chinese people in East Turkistan tend to analyze the fact about Uyghurs endless suffering cognitively, and they can’t dare to reject the communist party’s brainwashing lies.
Only some Chinese people with egalitarian, democratic values in free countries have spoken against this oppression.
For example, one of the Han Chinese writers resided in the United States questioned in his recent article in Boxun news that why only the Uyghur children were criticized for being thieves in China; what kind of parents would risk having their children stabbed to death on the streets each time they caught. Uyghurs have -no way out because the Communist party has put them in a desperate situation. The writer sympathized with the Uyghurs and criticized the Communist party from a humanitarian point-of-view, and this is the only one article written by the Chinese person who tried to understand the misery of Uyghurs I had ever seen in my life.

However, China’s denial of oppression in East Turkistan should come as no surprise, as long as the silence of world chooses to be China’s fool and ignoring the crying of bell ring even their ears are unplugged.

China’s New Berlin Wall

 Written By: Rukiye Turdush
Follow : @
The recent pilgrimage of Chinese government muslim delegation, including elderly Uyghurs and Hui Muslims to Saudi Arabia revealed how the Chinese government has tried to build a wall between free Uyghurs living outside China and the chained Uyghurs in East Turkistan. Uyghurs living in Saudi Arabia took to social media to describe how Uyghurs from East Turkistan who have recently come to Saudi for the annual Muslim pilgrimage are avoiding restaurants and shops belonging to Uyghurs. However, they report that Hui Muslims visited the Uyghurs living in Saudi.
One Uyghur taxi driver in Saudi said that Uyghurs who had just arrived for the Hajj pilgrimage looked very scared and immediately got off his taxi when they learned he was Uyghur and knew their language. They knew they would be punished by the Chinese government upon return to China for speaking with Uyghurs abroad. Let alone meeting or even saying hello to other Uyghurs when they travel abroad. This is because strict government surveillance and intensive spying makes it nearly impossible for Uyghurs to communicate with their loved ones online. All online communications are strictly censored and monitored by the Chinese government. In 2016, global watch dog Freedom House ranked China as “the world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom.”
To date, countless Uyghur writers, journalists, bloggers or other Uyghurs who try to reveal the truth by posting pictures or videos showing Chinese oppression are harshly punished and imprisoned. The World Uyghur Congress has published dozens of names that have been arrested, but that is only the tip of the ice berg as it is very difficult to get the exact number under such restrictions on information flow from the Chinese government.
Looks like no one is paying attention to China’s new kind of Berlin Wall that it is trying to create between the free world and the Chinese communist colony of East Turkistan, almost 30 years after the Berlin between East and West Berlin collapsed. From 1961 to 1989, during the existence of the Berlin Wall more than 5000 people tried to escape over the wall and over 200 were killed.
The number of sacrifices Uyghurs have made and the countless deaths that have occurred because of China’s new Berlin Wall is far beyond physical territorial border — it is both cyber and psychological.
The Chinese wall extends its border in every Uyghur’s brain. The wall can stick on every Uyghur and follow them wherever they go as it followed the Uyghurs who came to Saudi Arabia for the annual muslim pilgrimage. It not only tries to conquer the Uyghurs body but tries to conquer their thoughts, words, behaviours, and soul. Because, it is a wall between disappearance and survival; slavery and freedom; it is a wall between fear and bravery. The Berlin wall in Germany was made with stone and people tore that wall down with hand tools. However, China’s new Berlin wall is made with terror, it can be only thrown over with hearts for freedom. What did our ancestors say? Lose your money, lose your life, but not your heart.

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

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.