Source: Sup China (1/2/18)
The ‘Patriotism’ Of Not Speaking Uyghur
By DARREN BYLER
Uyghur “patriotism” now requires the active disavowal of the Uyghur way of life. Vague euphemisms like “patriotism,” “harmony,” “stability,” “vocational training,” and “poverty elimination” gaslight the erasure of a native system of knowledge and the basic elements that make Uyghur life Uyghur: language, religion, and culture.
On October 27, 2018, Memtimin Ubul, a Communist Party deputy secretary of Kashgar’s Qaghaliq County, stated publicly something that had increasingly become the norm over the past two years in the Uyghur homeland. In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, it was now officially unpatriotic for Uyghur state employees to speak or write in Uyghur language. In a statement that was circulated to more than 750,000 readers, the ethnically Uyghur state official wrote that any state employee who spoke Uyghur in public “should be classified as a ‘two-faced person.’” This is a charge that has resulted in the detention of hundreds, if not thousands, of Uyghur public figures, in addition to the untold number (possibly more than a million) who have been sent to “transformation through education” prison camps.
Memtimin wrote that the patriotic duty of state employees extended throughout all aspects of their lives. Patriotism should be present in the way they dressed, talked, and ate. Even in one’s home life, Uyghurs should refuse to speak Uyghur and instead speak Chinese. From his perspective, government employees had the “highest levels of knowledge and culture” in Uyghur society, and as such they had “immeasurable social influence.” It was therefore up to them to demonstrate what it meant to be patriotic Uyghur citizens. “Speaking the ‘language of the country’ should be the minimum requirement for patriotism,” he wrote. Chinese was no longer the language of Han people, but the language of reeducated patriotic Uyghurs.
A short documentary on rural Uyghur life in the county where Memtimin Ubul works as Party official. The documentary demonstrates the richness of Uyghur rural traditions before the mass detention of Uyghurs and the rise of new forms of “patriotism” across the Uyghur homeland. Continue reading