Many of us are generally aware there is a minority of mostly Muslim ethnic Turkmen in far western China known as Uighurs (pronounced “Wee-gurs”), people more closely related to the population of the Central Asian ‘Stans than to the ruling Han Chinese.
Some will have read about recent and apparently massive, largely arbitrary incarceration of Uighurs in “re-education camps” under local Party Secretary Chen Quanguo. Chen’s previous post was the Tibetan capital Lhasa, where he presided over a spate of Tibetan Buddihst self-immolations under his remit to tame the Tibetan population.
I’ve only just now read some alarming reporting from Ruth Ingram about what life is like among the Xinjiang Uighurs. Some quotes:
“Uyghurs have to keep a notebook detailing visits by not only their friends and relatives, but those of neighbors in their street, the content of the conversations, and the time and date of arrival and departure.”
“They are forced to install satellite navigation in their cars and to install the special Jingwang Weishi app on their phones, which sends the police an identification number for the device, its model, and the telephone number of its owner before monitoring all the information that passes through the telephone, warning the user when it finds content that the government deems dangerous. Failure to carry your phone, refusal to use a smart phone, turning it off completely for long periods, or even restoring your phone to its factory settings can be deemed suspicious.”
“Children who have had both parents taken away are being brought up in state orphanages hurriedly being built for the purpose.”
“‘It’s impossible to tear out weeds one by one,’ said one party official in Kashgar. ‘We need chemicals that can deal with all of them at once.'”
Read the whole article in The Diplomat.
President Donald Trump from today’s Oval Office remarks with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President of Kazakhstan. This quote begins on this YouTube clip at 3:53:
Our country is doing very well. Economically we’ve never had anything like it. I don’t believe we’ve ever been in a position and the president was so, saying we’ve never been in a position like we have.
No. Guess not.
Kazakhstan is changing its alphabet. From DuoLingo, here is an example of the old script compared to the new:
Cyrillic: Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен кұқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді. Адамдарға ақыл-парасат, ар-ождан берілген, сондықтан олар бір-бірімен туыстық, бауырмалдық қарым-қатынас жасаулары тиіс.
New Latin: Barlyq adamdar ty’mysynan azat ja’ne qadir-qasi’yeti men kuqyqtary ten’ bolyp du’ni’ege keledi. Adamdarg’a aqyl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, sondyqtan olar bir-birimen ty’ystyq, bay’yrmaldyq qarym-qatynas jasay’lary ti’is.
The Republic of Kazakhstan (Қазақстан Республикасы) will become Qazaqstan Respy’bli’kasy. Clear as a bell.
I put up this chart of the new Latinized script last November, in a post called Apostrophe Catastrophe. Now, a few months on, reviews of “the fulfillment of the dreams of our ancestors,” according to President Nazarbayev, are starting to come in. Here’s what people are saying.
There is an outstanding photo feature about the commercial monster China is building itself into with its
OBOR “Belt and Road Initiative” here, at The New Yorker’s website just now. This photo is a screen grab from the article. You get a few free articles a month without being a subscriber, so you can check it out.
Here is a fun blog. It’s two British guys with stories about their adventures driving around Central Asia. Most recently they’re in Mongolia. Check them out.
… on some of the strange Architecture in the ‘Stans here, in the Guardian.
My friend Bob has just made me aware of some fabulous 4×5 Kodachrome historical photos on the blog of Pavel Kosenko. Check out the people of the Russian hinterlands. And American World War Two photos. Great stuff. Kudos Pavel.