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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Re:

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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