Fairfax, Virginia, USA
4 March 2019
I have been working as a full-time activist since 2017 April, after my beloved mother has detained into one of the concentration camps in Turpan. A city located in the east part of the Uyghur autonomous region. My mother Guherhan Tomur, journalist, have retired from Turpan Daily News agency, a beautiful Uyghur mother. I am her only child. After her detention, I have suffered from mental and psychological challenges. In the very beginning, I have tried to do advocacy for her release, but it wasn’t going well. January 2018, as retaliation, my father Seyitniyaz Ghupur, too, detained into one of the camps in Turpan. February, grandmother has passed away, which, I believe because of her only son, my father’s arbitrarily detention. My father wasn’t able to attend her funeral, so do I and many other relatives. So far, I don’t know where and how she has been buried.
Spring 2018, I have openly started my activism. Made a video of me cutting my hairs off, for demonstrating against the Chinese government’s unlawful, unbearable, unjust treatment of my parents. Which went viral, RFA has interviewed me and made a report. That was the first time I was on media with my own name. I have contacted human rights organizations, but nobody believes what I am telling, because I was one of few, who claim China have detained family members into so-called re-education camps. I think I am the first person on social media, who made this on the public. I was upset and disappointed, but have not given up. I have made a video, call upon my fellow Uyghurs to stand up for their family member, to give witness for their loved people. I may not the very first person, who have this idea. But I was definitely the most outspoken, later more people start to give witnesses on their social media, some of them became an influencer, start to encourage others.
I have spent a good amount of my time in 2018, for my activism and advocacy. I have run a few successful campaigns, one of them was FreedomTour, a serial demonstration, aim to create and promote awareness of my parent’s tragedy and the current situation of Uyghurs. During the campaign, I have visited 9 different European countries, have a chance to meet and listen to hundreds of sad stories from the Uyghur diaspora community. Gradually, I am tired, or depressed. I was about to burn out. Thanks to Lord almighty, my parents have been released 24th December 2018.
I am continuing my activism, now I have more experience and network. After I have started the MetTooUyghur movement, it got viral, within a week, I have been interviewed over thirty different media, over 120 articles and reports have published about the campaign. I was on CNN, BBC, TRT, Polish TV, i24News, Austrians TV, France 24 and DW. Now, my schedule is full until May, since January, I have traveled 6 different countries, as scheduled I will be going to another three.
I have to be honest to myself, I feel so tired. Ì don’t want to be arrogant, but I have to be realistic, I have offered and sacrificed enough to my people, I am about to burn out. I know there are many other Uyghur activists are doing more sacrifice, offering way more than I did. As a father of two beautiful daughters, I have to be realistic, I can no longer continue my activism with my own finance and a good amount of my time as a full-time activist. Maybe it is too selfish to make such a decision, after this summer, I really need to stop my activism. I already fall into psychological and financial problems.
I am really tired. Every time I see other people could spend their time with their children, I feel so sorry for my daughters, I love them so much, but I am missing their childhood. In the future, I don’t want to be regret for this. Before I am leaving to the USA, my eldest daughter has hugged me from my neck, and told me “dear father, I love you, please don’t leave”, but I have no other choice, I have left her behind, flight to the USA for a great chance to do advocacy for my people. In this very moment, I really miss her, I hope she will forgive me. I have spent almost all of our family saving for my activism, and a good amount of my time. Now, I feel so empty.
I have made up my mind, from this summer, I will going back to my family, I want to have a normal life like others have. All that I have done, I have never done only for my people, I did it because I have strong faith to my Lord, the God who created me. If I am not a believer, I would not continue my struggle so far. I hope the Lord Almighty will forgive me, I am not strong enough for this.
I am glad I have written this, express my struggle, my pain, and my depression. I know many Uyghurs have hope on me and they are expecting unrealistically. Maybe I have read them wrong, but I have done enough in my power.
I have written this in English because I don’t want most of my people to understand, and disappointed. Many things made me very disappointed, but I don’t blame anyone, I know, I need to learn how to be realistic, so do they.
I feel so tired and empty, I am so sorry…