tirsdag 21. juli 2020

The 'perfect Uighur': outgoing and hard working – but still not safe from China's camps

By the standards of Chinese officialdom, Dilara is surely the perfect minority. She doesn’t wear a headscarf. She drinks beer. Pretty and outgoing, she socialises often with Chinese friends. If you closed your eyes and heard her speak Mandarin, you would never guess she had greenish eyes and brown hair, that she isn’t Han – the dominant ethnic group in China – but Uighur, a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people who call Xinjiang province, in the far west of China, their homeland.

In fact, Dilara’s entire family are model citizens. Her parents are also fluent Chinese speakers – slightly unusual for Uighurs of their generation. During the 1990s, they were among the only Uighurs working at a big, state-owned utility in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Her mother had landed the coveted position because she was the top student at her school, which was almost entirely Han. Dilara grew up amongst Han Chinese, in a modern apartment complex in a desirable part of town. Like her mother, she was the top student in school, and attended a prestigious university on China’s east coast.