On the morning of Tuesday 24 May, when I first looked at my phone I saw a post from my little sister that said, “I feel terrible, I am in pain.” I messaged her back immediately, asking “Are you ok baby girl? Who hurt your feelings? Where are you?”
I feared someone must have done something very bad to her because she has become very tough over the years from living alone in Istanbul, and she barely posts anything about her feelings. When I was about to send her another text she shared the link ‘XinjiangPoliceFiles’, and said nothing else. I then realized what her pain was about.
I was shaking, and I couldn’t look at Hawagul’s eyes. She still has tears in her eyes, and her face is telling me that she is terrified. What have they done to her that scared her so much?
I couldn’t look at Anihan Hamit’s face, the 73 years old grandma. She has been arrested and mistreated ruthlessly instead of resting and enjoying her life like an elderly person is supposed to.
I also couldn’t look at Rahila Omer, the 15 year old girl who looks so scared. She doesn’t know what the future holds for her inside the concentration camp.
Another little girl with a huge, old black jacket and pink shirt caught my eye. Her head was shaved, and they had tried to make her look older with the jacket, but that didn’t change anything because she is so young and innocent.
Later, I saw a lot more children with the same black jacket, some who were too little to predict their age.
There are many other innocent children on this list in similar situations. I wonder where their parents are. What happened to them? How did they end up in a concentration camp? When are they supposed to go to school, play games, and grow up with their families?
Although it has been mentioned that these lists of victims are those who were detained during 2017, and are only from Konasheher (Shufu) county, I still wanted to confirm if my father is on the list. This is because my father is currently detained in my hometown region, which is only about 20km away from Shufu.
I searched for my father’s name, Elijan Mamut (and his Chinese name, Ailijiang Mamuti). I held my breath, not knowing what I would do if I saw his name show up. Would I click the picture? I thought, his head might be shaved, or he might have bruises on his face, or tears in his eyes. But his picture didn’t show up.
Even though my tears keep rolling down my face I felt a little bit relieved because I don’t think I can see him like that.
I continue to read the reports, and try not to look too much into the victim’s eyes because I wouldn’t stop myself. These files contain a long list of 300,000+ personal records, including reasons for internments, police operation manuals including shoot-to-kill policies and security plans for the camp.
There is even a whole article about Xijinping’s direction on mass detention. This is real, and this is the proof that the camps are real. It’s systematically organized and directed by the top leaders of China.
I feel that indescribable pain my sister had, but it is somehow familiar. I had this shocking and helpless feeling when I heard my father had been taken to camps for the first time. I felt this again when I heard Mihrigul tursun’s, Zumret Dawud’s and Gelbinur’s testimonials about what was happening inside the concentration camps.
I couldn’t stop myself from crying when I heard their speech. I still have nightmares about re-living their experiences. Despite their heartbreaking testimonies, the UN has failed to take immediate action, and there are still some countries that deny the existence of concentration camps and the Uyghur genocide.
How can the genocide be denied when there is credible evidence of horrific crimes like forced organ harvesting happening?
For years, the UN has failed to investigate and take needed actions against China to stop the oppression. Rather they continue to have strong ties with China.
Now, the undeniable evidence of ‘XinjiangPoliceFiles’ has come into the spotlight, at the same time the UN high commissioner, Michelle Bachelet went on a trip to China. The UN has chosen their side; the high commissioner stood with the oppressor, but not the victims as she had promised.
Uyghurs have waited for years, hoping that the UN investigation might change the fate of the victims. Unfortunately, there is still no word from the UN human rights high commissioner, despite all of the facts.
I felt disappointed and betrayed after learning that Michelle Bachelet too was persecuted by a dictator, and was brave enough to fight for justice and equality when she was young.
I sent her a letter before her trip, stating my admiration for her bravery and effortless work for human rights. Now I realize she didn’t give a damn about my words or any of my fellow Uyghurs who have begged for her to take action.
Uyghurs are again left alone, but our desire for justice and our strength to fight is at its peak. The faces of our innocent brothers and sisters will forever stay in our hearts.
The world failed to save the victims of the holocaust in the last century, and now Uyghurs have become the tears of this century.