|[Published: Monday July 19 2021]
One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps
The Atlantic, 14 July 2021
WASHINGTON, 19 July. - (ANA) - If you took an Uber in Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago, there was a chance your driver was one of the greatest living Uyghur poets.
Tahir Hamut Izgil arrived with his family in the United States in 2017, fleeing the Chinese government’s merciless persecution of his people.
Tahir’s escape not only spared him near-certain internment in the camps that have swallowed more than 1 million Uyghurs; it also allowed him to share with the world his experience of the calamity engulfing his homeland. The following articles are Tahir’s firsthand account of one of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises, and of one family’s survival.
Among the galaxy of talented Uyghur writers in Xinjiang, Tahir is to my knowledge the only one who has escaped China since the mass internments began. His account combines a poet’s power of expression with a clear eye for the moral ambiguity found in even the most extreme circumstances.
While the system of state terror in Xinjiang is orchestrated by an inhuman bureaucracy, the individuals running that system—and those crushed by that system—are human in full, and their complexity is present throughout Tahir’s narrative. The world revealed by that narrative is one we all must grapple with. The Chinese government’s war on its Uyghur minority is new, but the tools it employs are familiar.
Human-rights groups, academics, and multiple governments contend that China has interned more than 1 million Uyghurs, along with thousands of individuals from other Muslim minority groups, and undertaken a campaign of forced sterilization against Uyghur women. The U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands have officially recognized the crisis as a genocide. Beijing rejects these charges, insisting that Uyghurs are voluntarily undergoing “reeducation” at the camps. - (ANA) -
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