By Erin Rodewald || January 22, 2019
(This article originally written for and posted to 21Wilberforce)
In China’s northwest province of Xinjiang, family members are disappearing. Arfat Aeriken is a Uyghur Muslim who lost contact with his family in 2017. While studying in the U.S., Arfat learned that his father was sentenced to a nine-year prison term and his mother was sent to a concentration camp. He does not know what has happened to his 10-year old brother.
Tahir Imin is a Uyghur activist, also living in the U.S. He was imprisoned in China for writing about the government’s oppression of the Uyghur community before escaping to the U.S. His stepmother, sisters, and brothers all remain in jail. “I have lost every kind of contact to my daughter,” says Tahir. “Every day is a painful day without your family members.”
By many accounts, the Chinese government is engaged in a 21st century cultural genocide that rivals Mao’s cultural revolution. International human rights groups estimate more than one million Uyghurs — like the families of Arfat and Tahir — have been detained in mass internment camps. There, they are forced to abandon their native language, religious beliefs and cultural practices. An additional 10 million Uyghur and minority groups are subjected to a dense network of surveillance systems and checkpoints that severely limit all forms of personal freedom. Continue reading