Professor Abduqadir Jalalidin, a renowned poet
Professor Abduqadir Jalalidin, a renowned poet

Uyghur poet continues writing in internment camps, his poems testimony of Chinese persecution

ANI | Updated: Nov 25, 2020 16:07 IST

Washington [US], November 25 (ANI): A Uyghur poet, who had been sent to Chinese internment camps in 2018, continues to write poetry while being locked up in the cell and his poems are the "powerful testaments" to a continuing catastrophe in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
In a piece in the New York Times, Historian Joshu L Freeman talks about his professor Abduqadir Jalalidin, a renowned poet, who disappeared in 2018. Freeman said that his professor poem is also testimony to Uyghurs' unique use of poetry as a means of communal survival.
Freeman says that he did not hear from his professor for a year until late this summer. He learnt that his professor had continued writing poetry. Other inmates had committed his new poems to memory and had managed to transmit one of them beyond the camp gates, says Freeman.
One of Jalalidin poem 'No road Back Home' which was translated by Joshua Freeman, talked about a "forgotten place" which is devoid of love. He mentioned about: "My life is all I ask, I have no other thirst, These silent thoughts torment, I have no way to hope".
"Jalalidin's poem is a powerful testimony to a continuing catastrophe in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Since 2017, the Chinese state has swept a growing proportion of its Uyghur population, along with other Muslim minorities, into an expanding system of camps, prisons and forced labour facilities," he writes.
"A mass sterilization campaign has targeted Uyghur women, and the discovery of a multi-ton shipment of human hair from the region, most likely originating from the camps, evokes humanity's darkest hours," he adds.

For generations, the vibrant poetic culture has allowed Uyghurs to hone verse into a source of communal strength against colonisation and repression, the writer notes.
"Against overwhelming state violence, one might imagine that poetry would offer little recourse. Yet for many Uyghurs -- including those who risked sharing Jalalidin's poem -- poetry has a power and importance inconceivable in the American context," he further writes.
China has been condemned by countries and human rights experts over its policies in Xinjiang where a large population of Muslim minorities is detained in re-education camps.
A sizeable Muslim population in Xinjiang has been incarcerating in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to US officials and UN experts.
However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training.
People in the internment camps have said they are subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings and denial of food and medicine, besides being prohibited from practicing their religion or speaking their language.
Even as intellectuals in the Uyghur diaspora chronicle the atrocities, most prominent Uyghur intellectuals in Xinjiang -- liberals and conservatives, devout Muslims and agnostics, party supporters and party critics -- have already vanished into the camps as China escalates its campaign to extinguish Uyghur identity, Freeman noted. (ANI)