The Uyghur Turks, the long oppressed ethnic group in the Xinjiang region of China also known as East Turkestan, are facing ethnic genocide with concentration camps, labelled as “re-education centers” by the Chinese Communist Party. 

According to Vox, The Guardian, Quartz and many other news outlets, about one million Uyghur Turks and other ethnic groups such as Kazakh have been inside of these Nazi-style concentration camps. Scholar Adrian Zenz wrote this to Twitter, “At today’s press briefing in Geneva (Palais de Nations) I will provide a substantive refutation of Shohrat Zakir’s key assertions of the camps, made during yesterday’s Xinjiang press conference in Beijing, and also detail my updated total internment estimate of up to 1.5 million.”

As the camps had originally started in 2016, and the discrimination against Uyghur Turks long before that, it has just gained popularity through social media and news in 2018 to 2019. 

Before, thousands of Uyghurs feared testifying to the public due to endangering family members who still reside in East Turkestan. But now, Uyghurs are sharing their experience to the world, in hopes of not letting the innocent humans trapped in the camps be silenced. You can find over 300 testimonies on the YouTube channel, “Uyghur Aid.”

Uyghurs are now utilizing social media platforms to raise awareness for their family members that have gone missing. One of these Uyghurs is Olivia Akida. Her mother, Rahile Dawut, is a professor of Anthropology at Xinjiang University and international scholar, as well as a renowned folklore scholar. 

“I still remember that day vividly. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I couldn’t wait to tell her about my day. But she was in a rush boarding a plane to Beijing. I was waiting for her to call me back. Two years later, I’m still waiting for that call,” said Akida.

Dawut is an extraordinary anthropologist. Her work is inspiring and is published at the University of Hawai’i Press, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Press, Indiana University Press, The Monacelli Press, and many more. 

Her daughter Akida gave testimony at The New York Times, the video published titled “China: Why They Must Free Our Parents From Concentration Camps| NYT Opinion,” along with two other Uyghurs on the disappearance of their parents. The video currently has 27,000 views. This must gain more views, this is happening to Uyghurs now and must be seen by the public eye. 

These are Nazi-style concentration camps, not the re-education centers that the Chinese government is trying label them as. There are many stories of rape, abuse, murder, and torture that are being told by Uyghurs to the public, which is very truamatizing for them.

Who are Uyghurs, is the first question to be asked, the second following should research on their culture, customs, food, religion, home. The third should be to listen actively on their testimonies, whether from Uighur Aid on YouTube or attending local Uyghur events that occur rarely to listen on Uyghurs affected by this ethnic genocide. 

Maybe you’re wondering how to help Uyghurs, and in what way, as many things related is shut from the public and news media. 

You can first go on “freemymom.org” where you can find images on Rahile Dawut to share on social media, a letter template ready for the release of Dawut, and a link to sign a petition for her. 

Secondly, write to your local officials. As of now H.R. 649, which is the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, passed in the House, and must be ratified in the Senate. Reach out to our Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray and urge them to ratify this bill. 

China is committing a human rights violation and they must be held accountable. You can boycott Chinese products and help in raising awareness on your campus through contacting the Chinese study abroad programs, and letting your campus know that if they are to send students to a country that justifies concentration camps, then they must at least let the students know that this is taking place in the country.

Rahile Dawut, Professor of Anthropology.
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