by Halmurat Uyghur
(My speech for an event organized by an embassy of a foreign country)
I wasn’t preparing to become an activist, to be honest, I haven’t ever thought to be an activist. I am not ashamed to say, I didn’t have political ambitions until they detained my parents. For me, like my parents and grandparents, avoiding politics is for the sake of a peaceful life. I was satisfied with my life in Finland, was eager to build and fulfill my American dream in Finland. By the way, I have to add this to here, people in China have always been admired America, we’ve been brainwashed by the Hollywood movies. Having a good car, good carrier and family-centered worldview is central to our life. someone, who was born in at the edge of Taklamakan desert (this is a huge desert in the centre of our homeland) shares the same desire with everyone else, who lives at the time of the Great American Empire. We are not American, but American Spirit living within us, thanks to American soft power, I mean mc Donald’s coke, and superhero movies.
2017, my peaceful life has been interrupted, my mother had been sent to a study facility, according to my father. Later I learned, it is not somewhere to study, evidence shows it is in fact internment camps, which I prefer to call concentration camps. As the only son of my mother, I was terrified, it is intense and painful to recall the memory of those days. 2018 my father too being sent to a concentration camp, soon after, grandmother passed away. And the Chinese authorities didn’t allow my father, the only son of my grandmother, to attend her funeral. That was the point, when I decided to stand up openly, tell the world what is happening to Uyghurs.
Although the mass detention has started since April of 2017, Uyghurs kept silent until the beginning of 2018. I was among those, who were afraid to stand up against the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown on Uyghurs, unbearable crime against humanity. I was awakened by intense barbaric treatment of the CCP, and I started to be an activist. The first thing I did was give testimony on social media about my parents’ situation, and encouraged others to do so. I made hundreds of encouraging videos in Uyghur, uploaded to the social media, mostly on Facebook. Then, I decided to travel to different countries, to meet face to face with Uyghurs, tell them my story and my opinions, encourage them to speak up for their relatives. One thing I need to add here is that Uyghurs kept silent, mostly because of their fear for China retaliation of their relatives, who are still living in our homeland. Lack of sense of security and lack of support by international organisations and governments is one of the biggest obstacles why Uyghurs kept their silence. Along with Uyghurs living in the diaspora, I have organized a freedom tour, a series of demonstrations in the majority western European countries. Then I traveled to different countries, like Turkey, Japan, the USA, etc., to meet with Uyghur communities there and talk to them, understand their situations, and learn their thoughts. That was very useful. Later, I build a very good connection with journalists, and became a bridge between journalist and Uyghurs, who want to highlight their personal stories.
Then, I came up with idea that people need a platform for highlighting and creating awareness of their personal stories, their family situation, so I started different online activities, mobilized Uyghur diaspora to use social media for their advantage. 2019, after Turkey rebuke China for possible death of a famous Uyghur singer, China responded with a video of proof of life of that singer. Then, I took this as an opportunity, launched hashtag movement #MeTooUyghur, it was a great success, many says, it is the shifting point of creating awareness of the situation of Uyghurs. Thousands of Uyghur who walking alive in the diaspora posted videos and pictures of their relatives who are detained in China’s Uyghur camps, and asked China to show their relatives’ proof of live videos. The twitter campaign has gained wide media attention, I was interviewed by major international media. Hundreds of reports were made and published, it created a temporary momentum on international media. Many joined the movement after the movement, that was a big push, which made China very uncomfortable. Even the spokeswomen of China, Hua Chunying, have arrogantly and ignorantly responded to the movement. Of course, as usual, she misunderstood our intention, she thought we wanted the video of the entire population of the country. We didn’t ask that, but even if we ask so, I believe China is capable of doing so because China is the one and only country, which has more surveillance cameras than its population.
In the beginning of 2019, I visited the United States of America for the first time in my life, shockingly, I didn’t feel I was traveling in foreign soil, everything was so familiar, people, culture, buildings, and food. America and Europe are very good at exporting their soft power and ideology, I think that is why someone like me, who was born in remote central Asia, who lives at the northern edge of Europe feels at home in America at my first-time visit. By telling this, I want to remind you, when you dealing with China, please remember, who you are dealing with, These are people who understand the American culture, behaviors, and thoughts, who have a wide knowledge of you. People in China understand you at their grassroots level, but how many Americans really understand China? Their thoughts? Behaviors? I am not challenging your knowledge of China, but what I want to say is, from top to down, America needs to understand China, needs people who understand China to effectively deal with it. That is why you are precious for your country, and you also need allies like Uyghurs, who are willing to contribute to the fight against tyranny.
I believe you already have a lot of knowledge about the Uyghur’s situation, I don’t want to hurt the feeling of my Jewish friends, by recalling the most painful history of mankind in the 20th century. What Uyghurs are facing now is possibly similar, I hope not as horrible as the holocaust, but something similar is happening to my beloved nation. I know it is a fantasy to ask America to liberate concentration camps in Urumqi, Turpan, and Kashgar, like 80 years ago they did in Poland, Germany, and other Nazi Germany occupied territories. But, I think it is not too much to ask you, please don’t ignore what is happening to Uyghurs, speak for us, support us with every possible way you could do. Help us to be a voice for those voiceless souls, let their voices be heard. Empower us, support us, help us to win this unfair war between lamb and dragon.