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by M.H Uyghur
I don’t know since when my life was linked to politics, maybe the correct way to say is since when I was manipulated by politics. My late grandfather was a hydraulic engineer, he chooses his carrier because his father, my great grandfather didn’t want him to get involved with politics. The reason why my family always try to avoid politics is that the painful history.
My great grandfathers’ father Qadir was a carpenter in a village called Qaraghoja, located in Turpan, a historic town of Uyghurs, was a capital city of Idiqut (Gaochang) kingdom. Qaraghoja is located right next to Astana, a historic location where the palace of the king of Idiqut Uyghur kingdom. By telling this historic background, I don’t mean to say that I am descendant of the royal family, I think I definitely have nothing to do with that bloodline. My forefather Qadir has joined the rebellion of Uyghurs, led by Hojaniyaz, a former officer of Shah Mahsut’s army, the Shah was the last knight of the Qumul (Hami) kingdom. Hojaniyaz has rebelled the Shah, after losing in a fight in Qumul, came to the Astana, the village neighboring to Qaraghoja. He has summoned people to join his army, my forefather Qadir volunteered.
Hojaniyaz has allied with Muhiti family, one of the richest family of the time, then they went down to the south, where the Uyghurs are the absolute majority. I don’t know how far Qadir was made to go, then he has injured, settled in Toqsun (Tuokesun) for rehabilitation. At that time the first East Turkestan republic was announced by Sabit Damolla, Hojaniyaz was designated as president of the republic. But he has signed the peace agreement with Chinese militarist Shengshicai, he was ruling the Xinjiang region. Shengshicai has designated Hojaniyaz as deputy governor, he has accepted and went to Dihua (old name of Urumqi in Chinese), the regional/provincial capital, then Shengshicai openly executed him, and his followers were dismissed, many of them went to hide in different places because of the fear for retaliation, my forefather Qadir was among them. All those things have happened during 1930. Don’t know how long Qadir was hiding in Toqsun, later he has returned to his hometown.
My great grandfather Hemdul was a butcher, he was enjoying his peaceful life when Soviet founded second East Turkestan rebellion has started in Ili area. I guess he has listened to too many stories of Uyghur rebellion movement from his father Qadir, then he decided to join the East Turkestan national army, left his newly married wife, went to join the army. After years of struggling and sacrificing of thousands of martyrs, the leaders of the republic died in a mysterious plane crash, Sayfisin/Saifuding took over the government and signed the agreement with the communist party of China, was winning the civil war with the nationalist government. September of 1949, general Wangzhen led the Peoples liberation army has invaded/came in East Turkestan/ Xinjiang.
Hemdul went to settled in Toqsun after being dismissed from the Minzu army, former East Turkestan national army. My grandfather Ghupur says he was about 16 years old when it has happened, he was trained as a hydraulic engineer by soviet engineers, then he started the work as Mirab (cadre responsible for distributing water), then became secretary of the hydro and electric bureau of the district, then became the head of the office. Despite great grandfather Hemdul doesn’t want his son join the politics, grandfather somewhat became a political figure. Then cultural revolution started 1966, grandfather being sent to a labor camp, great grandfather Hemdul passed away after received government-organized “vaccination”.
My father was working as a government worker, he has retired and was enjoying his retirement with my mother. There were two choices before me after I finished high school, one was going to study literature, the other was medicine. He encouraged me to study medicine, I thought I was going to break the curse, live life doesn’t involve with politics, government work or community service. Unfortunately, fate hunted me down after concentration camps started. I became an activist for free my parents from China’s concentration camp for Uyghurs.
I still define myself as a human rights activist, I don’t hide, as an Uyghur, I wish my nation will be free again, I wish Uyghur emancipation, for me this desire could be the threshold between politician and human rights activist. So far, I have focused on the human rights situation of Uyghurs, and campaigning for the closure of concentration camps. Realistically speaking, my family story is a reflection of Uyghur nation’s history of the last hundred years. We were people who wanted to enjoy their way of life, and for protecting that freedom, we were fighting for political independence. Since the communist regime started, our fate changed fatally, the oppression and systematic assimilation have gone too far, it has pushed us nowhere to hide. My family always wanted to live away from politics, we would be satisfied if we could have a regular life, without racial profiling, without discrimination, most importantly, without concentration camps. I don’t believe my parents have any political ambitions, they are just regular people, never dreamed that big. And they taught me in the same way, I was living a peaceful life with my beautiful wife and children, have never planned to become an activist.
As the only son of my parents, I was keeping distance with other Uyghurs, avoid to become a target for the Chinese authority. I was planning to raise my family in Finland, wish to be able to go back to my parents regularly and wish to take care of them when they get old. As the only, it is my responsibility to take care of them. But now, after I have done so many activities for freeing them from the concentration camps, and continue my activism even after they have been released. I think I am already in the watch list of China, maybe I will never be able to go to see my parents and take care of them, this is the pain in my heart, the thing always makes me sleepless.
But, I don’t regret, I know what I am doing is right. Millions of people are being sent to the concentration camps, even after I know all these things if I still keep in silence is unethical. I can’t ignore it, I can’t live with that. If not, I would blame myself for my entire life. This is not what my family history teaches me, also I am an Uyghur, those detainees of the concentration camps are my kinsmen. Even if I am not an Uyghur, I can’t stand by, I should fight against this atrocity, injustice, shameful crime against humanity. It is not political, it is more about being a human.
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