Children of the Uyghur diaspora often ask their parents about the genocide in China’s Xinjiang. They ask why they cannot see their grandparents and why they cannot visit their homeland.
When her parents started telling her about the crackdown, the 12-year old Uyghur girl, who now lives in the US state of Virginia, said, “I felt really sad,” reported Radio Free Asia.
At the time when her schoolmates would talk about where they were from originally, the pain hit home, said the girl on the condition of anonymity. Her voice grows weaker and begins to trail off whenever she is asked about her hometown.
“It does affect my voice,” the girl told RFA. “Sometimes if people ask me where I’m from, it’s going to be sometimes difficult because they don’t know much about us [Uyghurs], and because they think that China is like a perfect place. They don’t know about the government and everything.”
“They’re going to think you’re crazy, she added.
It is not easy for teenagers and children to discuss tragedies in their families, nor is it easy for parents to talk about such topics with their offspring. At least 1.8 million Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities are believed to have been held in a network of detention camps in Xinjiang since 2017, purportedly to prevent religious extremism and terrorist activities.
Beijing has said that the camps are vocational training centres. The government has denied repeated allegations from multiple sources that it has tortured people in the camps or mistreated other Muslims living in Xinjiang.
The United States and parliaments of several Western countries have declared that China’s repression and maltreatment of the Uyghurs amount to genocide and crimes against humanity.