Don't Be Afraid Son, We Will Always Be by Your Side

By Uyghur Aid - December 4, 2018

It has been a year and seven months since I last spoke to my parents in East Turkestan (AKA Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). I miss them so much that I can’t put it in words…

In the wake of the exposure of concentration camps built by China to incarcerate over 1 million Uyghurs and testimonies coming out from ex camp detainees, it is beyond horrifying to imagine the suffering of people inside and outside the camps. I can’t help asking myself these questions everyday. How are my loved ones doing back at home? Are they in camps? Are they being tortured at this moment? Are they even alive? Are they detained because of me living overseas?

These thoughts torment me day and night. I feel hopeless, powerless and extremely guilty. I eat every single meal with guilt; I sleep everyday on my comfortable bed with guilt; I feel very guilty walking on the street freely; I feel guilty sitting on my chair… Every aspect of my life is filled with guilt and trauma. And all this leads to self hatred for being pathetically worthless and powerless to save my loved ones who raised me with utmost love and care.

I tried to soothe myself but I couldn’t find a way or a reason to be hopeful or positive. I feel extremely terrified and scared over the fate and situation of my people. All my worst nightmares are coming true.

I remember the last time I was this scared. It was back in 2007 in East Turkestan when two Chinese state security agents showed up on our door and took me away. I felt terrified and devastated when they told me my parents and siblings will go down as well because of what I did which was just a few online blog posts about social inequality in terms of job opportunities and ethnic discrimination in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

I was so naive to reason with the state security agents by quoting the constitution of People’s Republic of China which actually agitated the Chinese agent a lot. He got right up from his seat like there was a fire lit under his ass and rushed towards me with angry, red face, shouting and pointing his fingers at me. He threatened to send me to dark jails where I’d be tortured everyday. When I asked for what crime, he said I already committed serious crimes in my thoughts and he wouldn’t wait till I explode a bomb to arrest me. I told him he can’t charge me for that, then he said he can easily put me away for subversion for 15 years without any trials and my parents / siblings will be affected negatively. They painted a very dark picture over my and my family’s fate. I was crushed.

The interrogation and intimidation lasted for about 4 hours. After answering all their questions, they didn’t seem satisfied with what they got. I was forced to sign on a document they gave me without being allowed to read it. Though, I took a very quick glimpse afterwards and saw an Uyghur public figure’s name on it. I figured I probably signed something to pin bogus crimes on an innocent and brilliant man.

I was released the same day afternoon on condition that I will come back again voluntarily after a few days. My parents were waiting for me at the door anxiously. The mixed feeling of terror, fear and guilt overwhelmed me. I wished it was just a bad dream and I’d just wake up out of it. But it wasn’t. I didn’t say anything for hours, my parents could sense what happened back there after their questions left unanswered. After a while my mom looked me in the eye and said: Don’t be afraid son, we will always be by your side. I felt utmost safety and warmth. And I broke down in tears.

Eleven years have passed since everything fell apart, and now we are all living under extreme terror, known and unknown...