Uyghur poet Zainura Isa passes away at 78

Source: UyghurTimes (1/9/22)
Uyghur poet Zainura Isa passes away at 78

Zainura Isa, an Uyghur poet and a great daughter of the Uyghur nation passed away due to an illness in Istanbul on January 8, 2022.

Ms. Isa was born in Kashgar in 1944. She spent her childhood in Aksu and in Turpan. After graduating from high school, she entered the ‘Xinjiang’ University of Language and Literature in 1960. In 1965, she graduated from the University with honors. After graduating, she became a lecturer at the same university.

Ms.  Isa was not only a gifted teacher but also a fiery poet and a scholar whose heart was burning for the cause of her motherland and her people.

Ms. Isa emigrated to Turkey in 1985 due to the Chinese colonial policies and unbearable oppression of the Uyghur people. Her poetry collections such as “Love” and “Snow Tulip” were loved by Turkish readers.

Ms.  Isa was recognized as the world’s first describer of Chinese oppression at a 1999 art exhibition in Germany. Many of her poems have been translated into German. She even taught Uyghur at the famous Goethe Institute in Germany from 2001 to 2002.

Ms. Isa published and translated her novel “Mahmud Kashgari” from Uyghur into Turkish in 2006 and “Yusuf Khas Hajib” in 2010.

Ms. Isa was a self-sacrificing and dedicated woman. Without hesitation, she dedicated her whole existence to her motherland and her people. Our people will never forget this faithful and self-sacrificing daughter.

Posted by: Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Rise of female punk bands

Source: SupChina/NeoCha (12/28/21)
Rebel girls: The rise of female punk bands in China
By Ryan Dyer

Beijing-based punk band Pizza Face / Photographer: 鳄鱼拍不拍

This article was originally published on Neocha and is republished with permission.


Living too “punk” is always risky. In China, it might be an even greater risk, as the mainly black-haired, homogeneous society isn’t exactly known for being welcoming to the attitudes and aesthetics that define punk culture. Pink, six-inch hair spikes and studded jackets aren’t digestible for most in the country. Chinese parents often have particular hopes for their children, and any deviation from their expectations means disappointment.

Despite these adversities, punk bands have kept on in China. Within the underground punk scene, female punkers remain somewhat of a rarity. Though they may be hard to find, they exist. It’s encouraging to see their presence, but it’s clear that if punk wants to find a stronger foothold in China, women will need to play a larger role in its evolution. In Western countries, the role of females in punk has been a constant: bands like Bikini Kill, L7, Blondie, and The Distillers have elevated the genre to greater heights. Looking at China’s neighboring countries, such as Japan, where punk arrived much earlier, female groups like OXZ were challenging gender stereotypes as early as 1981. China’s female punk revolution has been more recent in comparison, but its development has been rapid. [READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE]

Ban on ‘sissy men’ is bound to backfire

Source: NYT (12/31/21)
China’s Ban on ‘Sissy Men’ Is Bound to Backfire
By Helen Gao (Ms. Gao is a writer based in Beijing, focusing on Chinese education, culture and society.)

A magazine stand in Beijing, China.Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

BEIJING — China is facing serious challenges on multiple fronts: Great power competition with the United States. Trade disputes. The future of Taiwan. But that doesn’t mean it’s too preoccupied to escalate a battle of another sort on the home front.

The Chinese government, you see, has been fighting what state news outlets have called a “masculinity crisis” for the past few years, with one top official warning that “effeminate” men in popular culture were corrupting “a generation.” The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece decreed that young men need to have “toughness and strength” and censors have blurred out male celebrities’ earrings in television and online appearances.

That campaign has now taken a harsher turn. In recent months, the government has dialed things up into a full-blown culture war against unorthodox masculine expression, policing it in earnest.

In a slur-laden directive, television regulators in September banned “sissy men and other abnormal aesthetics” from appearing on television. Then in late November regulators cracked down on celebrities’ online profiles, their fan groups and advertising, citing “abnormal aesthetics” and threatening to shut down the online accounts of those who failed to fall in line. Continue reading

Growing up Uyghur in Xinjiang (1)

Fascinating and very valuable material — both Bruce Humes’ note, Sabina Knight’s article, and Patigül’s 2015 novel, Bloodline.

It would have been appropriate to add to the introductions, that soon after the novel under discussion was written and published (2015), not only has it become impossible to write and publish such novels, but mass internment camps have been set up for hundreds of thousand of Uyghurs and Kazakhs and others, who literally have the Chinese language forced down their throat in the camps — while being forbidden from speaking their native language, on pain of violent punishment.

It is even worse than what the novel and the discussion describe from before 2015. The new, draconian Chinese assault on Uyghur language and culture is part of the wide array of crimes of the ongoing Chinese genocide, which the authorities budgeted, planned and started up in 2017.  Indeed China is now a genocide country — and Chinese is the language of this genocide. It is Mr. Xi Jinping and his regime that have shamed the country this way, for generations to come, and he’s put an ugly stain on the Chinese language as such.

It’s like how my mother, after the Nazis invaded her native country in 1940, was forced to study German, until liberation in 1945. This was why even I was not able to choose German in school. I had heard her stories about how the Nazi occupier soldiers beat her and other defiant Norwegian kids, in the street. Unforgivable. And the legacy is still there. Poetry after Auschwitz?

So it is with China and Chinese now. The reason many around the world are abandoning the study of the Chinese language, is because of the mind-boggling atrocities being carried out. Just think of the camp guards beating people who could not memorize the glory to Xi Jinping fast enough, in mandarin Chinese.  Personally, I find it all profoundly revolting, to the point that it makes me regret ever learning Chinese.

I can hear the objections, that “yes but, there is still more to Chinese culture than the CCP regime” … I can only say, the stain is very deep, no amount of whitewashing will get it off. Can anyone now read Tang poetry without thinking of China’s 21st century genocide?

Only if there is an official Chinese state apology forthcoming for these atrocities and for the unfathomable arrogance, and a real Chinese reconciliation commission, I’ll find hope in that.

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Dramatic developments on the Uyghur genocide

Some dramatic new developments around the genocide in China, over the last few days:

  1. This morning, the London-based privately organized Uyghur Tribunal, issued its final verdict on the mass atrocities in China.  As of this morning, the tribunal’s main website now has a link to the preliminary text of the full judgment concluding what’s happening is both genocide and crimes against humanity (this will be completed with appendices, and then published, for the world to consider. )

  2. Yesterday, the US Congress passed a resolution condemning the Chinese government’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity” against the Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim peoples in China (H.Res. 317). See: “U.S. Congress Condemns Uyghur Genocide, Gives Hope to Uyghurs Around the World,” Uyghur Human Rights Project, December 8, 2021.

  3. The US House of Representatives also passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, to block imports from the Uyghur region where forced labor is used. A version of this law had already been passed by the Senate, and there has been a lot of speculation as to whether US corporate lobbying caused the serious delay in the House. Now, the House and Senate versions must be reconciled before it can become US law. See: “House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns.” Axios, [8 dec 2021].

  4. Olympic boycott: All this comes on top of House of Representatives Resolution 837, concluding that the International Olympic Committee failed to adhere to its own human rights commitments — just days after President Biden declared the US government will boycott the Olympics ceremonies, because of the genocide. (See: “White House announces US diplomatic boycott of 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing,” CNN, December 6, 2021). One other country, Lithuania, had already announced a similar diplomatic boycott; and after the US announcement, several other countries have followed suit, incl. Australia and the UK: “These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Beijing Olympics,” Axios, Dec. 8, 2021.

  5. The Uyghur Human Rights Project yesterday issued an updated report on the mass forced disappearances of members of the Uyghur cultural and intellectual elites, counting 312 such victims: “The Disappearance of Uyghur Intellectual and Cultural Elites: A New Form of Eliticide.” Uyghur Human Rights Project, December 8, 2021.

yrs, Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

China’s cultural crackdown: a guide

Source: SupChina (12/2/21)
China’s Cultural Crackdowns: A guide
By Chang Che

Illustration for SupChina by Alex Santafe

From classrooms to phone screens to celebrity idols, the Chinese government is tightening its control over Chinese society. As culture reaches a new level of strategic importance, SupChina takes stock of the disparate changes to society in the past few years.

As Beijing rejigs its debt-ridden economy by diktat this year, a parallel operation is emerging in the sphere of culture. Media regulators have banned the display of “effeminate men,” ordering broadcasters to promote content with “traditional Chinese culture” instead. They have also publicly shamed or silenced “morally corrupt” celebrities, and shuttered fan communities. In schools, education regulators are expunging classrooms of foreign influence such as foreign textbooks and English-language courses. At the same time, in an effort to “cultivate masculinity” in schools, they have hired more gym teachers and promoted sports programs. Broadly speaking, the Party has become ever more concerned over the future of Chinese youths, how they spend their time, the role models they look up to, and the kinds of content they are exposed to.

The new policies are part of larger currents that have existed for several years. Decades of history exist in China regarding celebrity crackdowns, enforced heteronormativity, and the prioritization of “traditional Chinese” culture over foreign aesthetics. This year, though, the rules have coalesced into a larger vision about society, its culture, and how youths should behave in what Xi Jinping has called “the great rejuvenation.” State attacks on “‘sissy men’ and “niáng pào” 娘炮 [effemintae, camp, or gay], all these ways of speaking have been around for a few years, so they aren’t fundamentally new,” Fang Kecheng, a professor of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told SupChina. “But this time, I think they fit into a larger strategy, one that encompasses a holistic rethink of the way society should be organized.” If prior instances of cultural reforms occurred sporadically, the recent move suggests that a more strategic and steady hand has grasped the steering wheel. Continue reading

Surviving the Uyghur Crisis webinar

Webinar: Surviving the Uyghur Crisis: Ethnicity, Gender, and Ethic
hosted by Jinyan Zeng
December 8, 2021 1-3pm CET (GMT+1)
https://www.ace.lu.se/calendar/surviving-uyghur-crisis-ethnicity-gender-and-ethics

Jinyan Zeng, post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, will co-host an online discussion in Putonghua with English and Uyghur translation on the following theme: Surviving from the Uyghur Crisis: Ethnicity, Gender, and Ethics. For information and registration, see https://www.ace.lu.se/calendar/surviving-uyghur-crisis-ethnicity-gender-and-ethics

Leaked Party docs confirm genocide as state policy

Not previously seen documents leaked from inside the top echelons of the Communist Party tie China’s top leaders directly to the massive atrocities in Xinjiang –including never-before-seen secret speeches by the great leader himself.

The documents were provided to the Uyghur Tribunal in London in September this year. It investigated, and held an extra, third session on them, in London and online, last Saturday Nov. 27 (recording of the live session) — as a special session called ahead of the Tribunal’s scheduled verdict, which is to be announced Dec. 9 (here).

Now, the German scholar Adrian Zenz has published the main points of the Nov. 27 hearing. Links below. Basically, the leak of Chinese Communist Party high level documents that was made to the New York Times in 2019, was then repeated to the Tribunal in September this year, and Zenz was asked to investigate. Online, last Saturday, we saw him and his peer reviewers David Tobin and James Millward review, compare and discuss the verified secret documents and their significance.

The files show that Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and another former central government official directly and indirectly demanded policies that were then implemented, esp. after 2016: – Internments – Coercive labor transfers – Centralized boarding education – Birth control” [ …] Continue reading

The Wa People Between China and Southeast Asia

Book Talk: “The Wa People Between China and Southeast Asia.”
Center for East Asian Studies / Southeast Asia Colloquium, University of Pennsylvania, Tuesday, November 23, 2021, 12:30 noon.

= about my new book on the Wa people of Burma/China: Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture (Berghahn, 2021).

Zoom registration, and more info.

Also here

–Sincerely,

Magnus Fiskesjö, magnus.fiskesjo@cornell.edu

Contemporary Murmurings of China’s New Ethnic Minorities

The Chinese Independent Film Archive (CIFA) is pleased to announce ‘Contemporary Murmurings of China’s New Ethnic Minorities – An Online Film Exhibition’.

Curated by filmmaker Gu Xue, this is an exhibition of films by seven young, ethnic minority filmmakers based in and outside China. The films are available for free on the CIFA website till 15 December, while an online discussion with the filmmakers will take place on 11 December, 1.00pm UK time, hosted by Dr Zeng Jinyan (Lund) (registration required).

All are welcome! For links to the films and for the discussion registration, please see:

https://www.chinaindiefilm.org/contemporary-murmurings-of-chinas-new-ethnic-minorities-an-online-film-exhibition/

Posted by: Luke Robinson <lahrobinson@me.com>

Three persecuted professors

This note on three of among the hundreds of prominent Uyghur academics and intellectuals targeted by China’s government as it decapitates, decimates and exterminates Uyghur culture: Gheyratjan Osman, 63, a respected professor of Uyghur language and literature at Xinjiang University; Uyghur actor Qeyum Muhammad, an associate professor at the Xinjiang Arts Institute; and Tursunjan Nurmamat, a Uyghur research scientist who was working at Tongji University in Shanghai. See below. Needless to say, this is all part of the genocide in process. –Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Source: Chinese Human Rights Defenders (10/5/21)
Urgent Actions Needed to Stop Cultural Rights Violations Against Uyghurs

(Chinese Human Rights Defenders, October 5, 2021) – Details have emerged from three cases of persecuted professors from the Uyghur region that underscore how Beijing is trying to disappear and silence the leading Uyghur minds. The mass detention of peaceful intellectuals demonstrates the hidden human rights atrocity beneath the Chinese government’s absurd narrative that its suppression is necessary for “fighting terrorism.” Given the numerous known deaths in custody in Xinjiang and the Chinese government’s track record mistreatment of prisoners of conscience in prison, the international community must speak out and take strong actions with a renewed sense of urgency.

According to Rights Defense NetworkGheyratjan Osman, 63, a respected professor of Uyghur language and literature at Xinjiang University, was taken away in 2018 and sentenced to 10-years for “separatism”, although the legal details of his case remain unclear. Radio Free Asia confirmed the outlines of his case with three employees at Xinjiang University, but these individuals said they could not divulge more since the case is treated as a “state secret”.

Gheyratjan Osman

Gheyratjan Osman was apparently jailed on the grounds that he “rejected national culture”, attended a seminar on Turkic studies in Turkey in 2008, and gave “excessive” praise of Uyghur culture in his writings, which “inculcated separatist ideology in generations of Uyghur students,” according to the Chinese government as RFA reported.

Gheyratjan Osman has published more than 30 books and 200 scholarly articles on Uyghur language, literature, and folklore, including Research on Ancient Uyghur LiteratureHistory of Classical Uyghur Literature, and the influential Uyghurs in the East and the West. Continue reading

Stories from an Ancient Land

Permit me to promote my own new book, which is about the Wa people, who see themselves as the caretakers of the world, because they were the first people on Earth. Today, their ancient land has been annexed by China, and Burma. The book is about Wa cosmology, xenology and sociality, about fieldwork and participant intoxication, about the political anthropology of standing your ground, and about the Chinese appropriation of Wa culture, and much more. Also includes an epilogue on the future of ethnics in the context of the current Chinese neonationalist policy shift, and genocide in Xinjiang (East Turkestan). The book is:

Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture. New York/Oxford: Berghahn: August 2021. Series: Asian Anthropologies. ISBN  978-1-78920-887-0; eISBN 978-1-78920-888-7.

Discount code FIS870. Valid until September 30th 2021.

–Cheers, Magnus Fiskesjö

‘Shang-Chi’ debate in China

Source: NYT (9/17/21)
‘Shang-Chi’ Wins a Warm Asia Greeting. Then There’s China.
Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie has yet to be released in the mainland amid fierce debate over its back story and star.
By Jin Yu YoungAmy Chang Chien and Azi Paybarah

Michelle Yeoh and Simu Liu in a scene from “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Credit…Marvel Studios/Disney-Marvel Studios, via Associated Press

Marvel released “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” with China in mind. Simu Liu, the film’s Canadian lead actor, was born in China. Much of its dialogue is in Mandarin. The cast includes Tony Leung, one of the biggest Chinese-speaking movie stars in history.

The studio’s first Asian superhero movie is a hit, drawing praise and ticket sales in East Asia and other global markets. Perhaps the only place where the movie has not been well received — in fact, it has not been received there at all — is mainland China.

Disney, which owns Marvel, has yet to receive clearance from Beijing’s regulators to show the film in the vast but heavily censored movie market. While the reasons aren’t clear, “Shang-Chi” may be a victim of the low point in U.S.-China relations.

China is also pushing back against Western influence, with increasingly vocal nationalists denouncing foreign books and movies and the teaching of English. They have even criticized Mr. Liu for his previous comments about China, which he left in the mid-1990s, when he was a small child. Continue reading

New developments on Xinjiang genocide

Several major new developments as regards the ongoing Chinese genocide against the Uyghur people.

1) A major conference held in Newcastle, England was held 1-3 Sept, 2021, “The #Xinjiang Crisis: Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity, Justice” – full set of session recordings now available as online videos, here. ( … my own paper, on the cultural destruction, was in panel 5).

2) The Uyghur Tribunal concluded its 2nd and final round of hearings in London September 10-13 and has also published the entire hearings online.

The Tribunal is a private pro-bono initiative to interview witnesses (survivors, experts, and more) and accumulate documentation, as an encouragement to world governments who have largely failed to go from expressing “concern” to action against China. The tribunal will publish its conclusions in December. A summary report on the tribunal (and China’s government lashing out against it) is here.

3) Meanwhile, right at the same time, the UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet released a momentous 2 sentences statement declaring that (after 4 years of trying), she is giving up on her efforts to send an inspection team to China. Continue reading

China increasingly rejects English

Source: NYT (9/9/21)
‘Reversing Gears’: China Increasingly Rejects English, and the World
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
A movement against Western influence threatens to close off a nation that succeeded in part by welcoming new ideas.
By Li Yuan

Credit…Jialun Deng

As a student at Peking University law school in 1978, Li Keqiang kept both pockets of his jacket stuffed with handwritten paper slips. An English word was written on one side, a former classmate recalled, and the matching Chinese version was written on the other.

Mr. Li, now China’s premier, was part of China’s English-learning craze. A magazine called Learning English sold half a million subscriptions that year. In 1982, about 10 million Chinese households — almost equivalent to Chinese TV ownership at the time — watched “Follow Me,” a BBC English-learning program with lines like: “What’s your name?” “My name is Jane.”

It’s hard to exaggerate the role English has played in changing China’s social, cultural, economic and political landscape. English is almost synonymous with China’s reform and opening-up policies, which transformed an impoverished and hermetic nation into the world’s second-biggest economy.

That’s why it came as a shock to many when the education authorities in Shanghai, the most cosmopolitan city in the country, last month forbade local elementary schools to hold final exams on the English language. Continue reading