Symposium on the Identity Crisis of Uyghurs Today- Friday, May 25th, 2018 9:30 am to 4:00 pm


The Uyghur American Association, Uyghur Academy & UHRP are pleased to host a “Symposium on the Identity Crisis of Uyghurs Today”

This one-day event will be held from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm on Friday, May 25th, 2018 at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Room #214

Address: 1957 E Street, NW, Suite 412, Washington, D.C.

Symposium Agenda
9:00-9:40 Refreshments and Registration
9:40-10:00 Opening Remarks

10:00 – 12:00: Session A
Challenges in Uyghur Education & China’s Harsh Policy towards Uyghurs
Chair: Rishat Abbas, Research Scientist, USA

1. Rebecca Clothey, Drexel University, USA, “Education Policy Appropriation, Ethnic Segregation and Cultural Transmission in Urumqi”
2. Nury A. Turkel, Lawyer, USA, “China’s Re-Education Detention Centers: Examination Uyghur Rights under China’s Constitution and International Human Rights Law”
3. Lauren Hansen Restrepo, Bryn Mawr College, USA, “The Middle Can not Hold: Unpacking the Role of Development on the Rising Culture War within Urban Uyghur Society”
4. Memet Emin, Colombia University, USA, “Mental Impact of Chinese Harsh Policy towards Uyghurs”

12:00 – 1:30 LUNCH TIME

1:45 – 3:15: Session B- China’s Cultural Assimilation Policy towards Uyghurs
Chair: Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, Uyghur American Association, USA

1. Louisa Greve, Washington Fellow, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, USA, “The Campaign to “Sinicize Religion” in the XUAR”
2. Abdulhamit Karahan, Uyghur Academy, TURKEY, “Uyghur Language Crisis in Education both in Uyghur Homeland and Diaspora”
3. Nicole Morgret, Uyghur Human Rights Project, USA, “Uyghur Intangible Cultural Heritage”

3:15 – 3:30 Closing Remarks
3:30 – 4:00: Post-Symposium Social


For more information please contact Mr. Mehmetjan Bugra,  Phone: +15712149208   E-mail:

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UHRP’s Director Speaks in Japan About the Belt and Road Initiative’s Effect on Uyghurs

UHRP’s director Omer Kanat spoke this month in Japan at a conference sponsored by the Japan Uyghur Association on China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its effects on the Uyghurs. He presented UHRP’s report on the BRI and recent developments in China’s overseas investment and loan strategy.


Mr. Kanat argued that the fact that East Turkestan lies at the heart of the land route of China’s massive infrastructure investment project is a major reason for the current securitization push. The massive increase in the size and militarization of the police force, the propaganda mobilization campaigns, the ramping up of assimilative policies like “bilingual education” and last and perhaps most shocking the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in “re-education camps” are all being done in the name of “stability” which will supposedly help economic growth, according to the official Chinese argument.

However, these policies do not create the impression of stability- they make East Turkestan appear to be a war zone. Although the human suffering caused is a more pressing issue, the securitization campaign’s effect on the economy is also an interesting question. It is difficult to believe that it has a salutary effect. There have been reports that the propaganda campaigns and re-education camps have deprived farms of the labor needed to harvest crops, leaving them to rot in the fields, and fewer people going to buy in the markets. Others report that the delivery system is randomly shut down for “security reasons,” making life for small traders difficult. Trade with neighboring nations has not quite matched the lofty rhetoric. It was recently reported that all government financed projects were being halted to check if there was enough capital to complete them without additional debt. The government has for years boasted that the GDP growth in the region is faster than other provinces, but it is fueled by unsustainable center-led infrastructure and industrial investments. Fixed asset investment had increased 20% in 2017, compared to a nationwide average of 7%.


Once-busy Kashgar night market now half empty @Uyghurcause


Shuttered shops, Kashgar Old Town @Salih_Hudayar

The success of ventures like the Khorgos trade hub with Kazakhstan is in question, with the free trade zone seeming to function more as a tax haven. What the Chinese government says will create trade networks and international cooperation has instead damaged them. There has been trade though the Khunjerab Pass for millennia, but now Pakistanis face challenges in the form of intrusive security checks and high tariffs, and it is one of the countries which Uyghurs will be punished for have any ties to or communication with.   Uyghurs married to Pakistanis have been placed in the camps, and the Chinese government refuses to allow the Pakistanis communication with their wives and even children.

The Chinese government frames the BRI plan as a great opportunity to open up the world to trade and communication. The experience of the Uyghurs should raise doubts about their sincerity- the Uyghur homeland has been transformed into a security state with no regard to the economic effects, and travel, trade and communication across borders is being made difficult to impossible for most Uyghurs. This is a fundamental contradiction at the heart of the BRI plan.


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Uyghurs Organize Protests Around the World

The current crackdown in East Turkestan is beginning to draw wider attention, not surprising given the shocking and rapid deterioration of the situation there in the past year. The Chairmen of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith released a letter to the US ambassador to Beijing on the third of April calling for U.S. officials to begin investigating possibly using Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against Chinese officials who are behind the re-education camps currently holding between 500,000 and one million Uyghurs. This would be a significant step in pushing back against China’s policies in the region.


China has been extremely effective in instituting an information blackout in East Turkestan by preventing independent reporting and intimidating Uyghurs both at home and abroad from speaking out, most often out of fear of retaliation against their loved ones. However, the situation has gotten so bad that more are finding it necessary to speak out.


March 15 protest, Turkey

A coordinated campaign of protests organized by Uyghur women took place on the 15th of March, including in Australia, Turkey, the Netherlands, and New York and numerous other countries under the title of “One Voice One Step.” A further protest took place in Australia on the 26th of March, and another is being planned for April 27th in front of the European Parliament headquarters in Brussels.


March 27 protest, Australia

Below is a poem written by Munawwar Abdulla, who has previously written We protest because our people in our country can no longer do so. We protest because we need to remember who we are. Every new affront to our way of life is another reason to voice dissent. Why does China think the only way for peace and harmony is restriction and suppression? 

She writes: I wrote this poem as a performance piece for the #OneVoiceOneStep protests that happened across the world on March 15th, so it’s not my usual (subtle) style but it is my usual passion. Freedom for East Turkistan!

From: A Uyghur Girl

To: China

cc: The World


You say that you want peace and harmony

You want the unity of ethnic minorities

You want us all to be one big family

Uyghurs, Tibetans, Han Chinese

Yet Falun Gong, Taiwan and democracy

The five of us are Poisons? The hypocrisy

Of your words reveal Chinese hegemony


Here’s the ‘peace’ you constantly proclaim,

Our freedom is in jail, our mouths detained

We face economic advances that starve and maim,

Educational opportunities that divide and tame.


Ethnic unity to prevent unification

Anti-separatism that enhances separation


Freedom of speech where our words are taught

And moving off scrip will get you caught


Religious freedoms where our God is Xi

Our only congregation is the CCP


If we decide we want to learn our tongue,

And if we decide to keep our traditions

Or is we happen to think a stray thought

Perhaps a memory of what freedom once brought

We are chained en masse and kept in dungeons


With chains like puppet strings praising Xi Jinping

Chains to destroy the language of the hearts within

Chains to mould our brains to the Party’s whim


Hundreds of thousands in the molding classes

Cramped and tortured to re-educate the masses

A mistake away from the killing gasses


And those outside, those outside, those yet to be confined

Must forget half their family or replace their seats inside

It’s not a prison, there is no sentence, they are interned for life

Or until they come out broken, a psyche suicide

Witnessing the cultural cleansing, slow boiling genocide

Unable to escape China’s overheating eyes


So they cut ties with those overseas, for communication is a suspicious act,

Or students cut their wrists to bleed, for after their parents they are next,

Or they are cut after blood is taken, their organs kept intact,

And all the while their wombs are cut to prevent hope or life in this attack


Oh, but you see us smiling on TV?

Yes, we shine with the reflection of our blood-stained properties,

Our sweat and oil excellent commoditities for a rapidly growing economy,

And beautiful dances, cruelly twisted so each step is beautiful agony

In a colonialists standard of beauty

And each breath is the slow erasure of our true identities


So Uyghur rise up! We are unwilling to rest

Before our people can freely breathe

Before we can leave our boundaries


Before we can live as Uyghurs without being suspected of being radicalized

Without our religion being terrorized

Without our history being revised to fit a culture

Ready to be commodified

Without being denied to learn in our language

Rather than of our language

Our way of life brutalized to fit a shoe unfit for Life

Punished when our feet bleed and swell and protest


You speak of peace then quash communication

Bridges are burned and face condemnation

Human rights and compromise face humiliation

In the push to show the world a “great Chinese nation”

That fights imaginary disease with greater inflammation

And rots with overcrowded prisons, and murders in obscurity

And creates predicative policing with militarized security

And tries to prevent any word of this from dissemination

By blacklisting and torturing our families and relations


And so here we are today to implore the United Nations

To take action on our behalf, to look into the situation

Of how China has sentenced us to an oppressive subjugation


We must stand up now to claim our rights before its much too late

From here on out the world will only share our fate


To march for our human rights is our only salvation

We fight for our freedom from China’s damnation


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