Campaigning to End the Uyghur Genocide with Babur Ilchi
This week we’re joined by Babur Ilchi, program director at Campaign for Uyghurs, which works to promote and advocate for the human rights and democratic freedoms of the Uyghurs and other Turkic people in East Turkistan. Born in Hotan, China, and now living in Canada, Babur is unable to visit the grave of his grandfather, who died shortly after being released from an internment camp, or even talk to family there. He hasn’t been to his hometown since 2015.
Babur defines the region in question for us, including its recent history, geography, proper pronunciation, and people, who are predominantly Muslim. We learn that since 2016/2017, the Chinese Communist Party has detained upward of 3 million Uyghurs, under the guise of what the state is calling reeducation camps providing vocational training and ensuring protection against Islamic terrorism. Starting with the replacement of Islamic symbols by communist propaganda and the rounding up of imams, this appalling humanitarian crisis initially began as religious and ethnic persecution. People were forced to renounce their identity, faith, and language while praising the Chinese President. The government then began systemically placing people in labor camps and prisons, where further abuses like brainwashing, torture, rape, forced abortions, and the sterilization of women are occurring. Even outside these camps there is heavy surveillance, checkpoints, the gathering of biometric date, and more sterilization.
We ask why it’s taken so long for this crisis to be made public, and how we know what we know now, given the shroud of secrecy the government has enforced. We ask if the United States’ declaration of the abuse as genocide has set any relief in motion, and why certain other countries likely aren’t following suit (spoiler alert: it involves the economy, and possibly some of your favorite brands). Babur answers all of these questions and more about this horrific situation first-hand, while providing resources and things we can do to help, including calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in 2022. Please educate yourself, whether here or elsewhere, and spread the word.
Follow Babur and his nonprofit on Twitter @BaburIlchi and @CUyghurs and Instagram @baburilchi and @campaignforuyghurs. Babur also cohosts Tarim Talks, a podcast that shares the experiences of Uyghurs across the global diaspora. Please listen, write your Congressional rep, donate to groups doing advocacy, and pray, if you’re the praying sort, for these atrocities to end quickly.
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