It was last year when we had met a brave Uyghur1 sister of Kazakh ethnicity, who was among millions still experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and a modern-day cultural genocide in East Turkestan2. As Arslan Hidayat3 commenced translating, it became imminently clear that another tragic case of gruesome torture against the Uyghur minority was to be conveyed. Disappointingly, as we suspected, such a calamity was still virtually ignored by the global community en masse. Today, the ummah and the world at large would hear the truth behind the fierce and systematic repression of the Uyghur minority.
“It was May 22nd2017, when I received a knock at the door”, recounts a 53-year-old Gulbahar. 3 men and a woman, agents who report to the CCP4, requested for a random “passport check” at 8 am in the morning. Unbeknownst to Gulbahar5, this was the start of a horrendous journey being separated from her family as she would disappear into thin air for more than 15 months. The agents informed Gulbahar that she would need to come Ürümqi6 police station. After 7 hours of detainment, confusion and no means to inform her family, Gulbahar was interrogated, “why did you go to Turkey?… do you pray?… are you religious?”. Restrained and strapped to a metal chair, Gulbahar recollects that she was pressured for over 3 hours to sign a document that falsely incriminated and stipulated she had conducted acts of terrorism. Despite her pleas for a translator, she could not make out the foreign letters, she swore her innocence. Gulbahar was physically and psychologically threatened with “we will take you someplace, where you will sign this”. Despite Gulbahar being an official Kazakh citizen, the agents forged a Chinese citizenship forcing sinification7 to egregiously label Gulbahar as a political prisoner of the CCP. (Sinization Berlie 2004). Inhumanely stripped of her privacy, citizenship and human rights Gulbahar was immediately placed into cuffs and forced to provide a urine sample. The primary aim of performing urinalysis8 was the need to detect pregnancy and initiate an immediate complete abortion of any unborn babies – the first of many sickening acts of Uyghur sterilisation9.
Sister Gulbahar provided me with her horrendous account of what she had witnessed and unspeakable actions she was tormented with. She found herself chained alongside 40 individuals with a hand-ankle cuff within a single cell with 1 toilet between them all. With no bed space or linen, Gulbahar recollected she “slept in 2-hour rotations”. Periodically, the names of the prisoners were called out, some of whom were young as 14 years old. Systematic mass rapes10 of the prisoners occurred routinely with many of the innocent women returning with fresh bruises and missing fingernails after having been torn off. Gulbahar was repeatedly raped and subjected to severe violence, “in a room outside with thick padded walls so no-one can hear you scream, I can even remember their names” as she recollects with every teardrop. During her captivity, Gulbahar states they were given unknown pills that induced a sluggish and extremely fatigued state. Gulbahar continues to mention that every so often, male officers would command them to strip down and proceed to beat them with electronic batons. “They would search for contraband, force us to squat while having no clothes on… they would take away the young girls, some of whom never returned”. Barely 15 minutes into the interview, it was getting increasingly difficult to endure the horrific evil passage Gulbahar was inflicted with. Prisoners who were illegally detained in the concentration camp11 are faced with impending trials and sentencing. “I received a death penalty notification” says Gulbahar. The relentless lobbying and reporting from Gulbahar’s children across social media and to political leaders led to the public awareness where 1000’s were dumbfounded and disturbed by the abhorrent news occurring in East Turkestan.
Sister Gulbahar ends with a heartfelt adjuration to the ummah, ‘with whatever strength we can muster’, we must “lobby governments, write letters and raise awareness at all cost”. “Young girls as old as 14, were pleading with me, if I ever get out, tell the world, be brave”, in awe and ingrained with the selflessness of the children, Gulbahar relays her message. The silent bystanders and mass inaction is allowing the despicable destruction, reprehensible genocide and hideous torture, rape as well as beatings of the Uyghur people. For if it was not for the relentless campaigning of her children, Gulbahar Jalilova would not be sitting less than 10 feet away to re-tell the horrifying physical abuse and psychological agony.
Currently living in exile, in Turkey, a survivor from China’s death grip concentration camp placed in East Turkestan and away from the brutality of the CCP Gulbahar advocates for help against the inconceivable evil her people are facing. Gulbahar’s future in Turkey remains a questionable safe haven due to recent CCP-Turkey bilateral trades and extradition treaty12 signed in 2017 including the transfer of Uyghurs to China. (Treaty Lipkowitz 2019). Since we are all looking to beautify and profess our deen for the sake of Allah, we would like to draw your attention to the lessons we all learn from our Uyghur sister.
1. To exercise faith (emaan) with equal astuteness in times of sacrifice, persecution and tribulations to the times of joy, rejoice and gratitude as is cyclical as night and day.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” [Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, chapter 2, verses 155-157].
2. Commit to action what you permit to memory knowing that the essence of servitude (ibada) is to remain determined and steadfast whatever the state of affairs. Allah is with those who are unwavering.
“They said: ‘Burn him and help your alihah (gods), if you will be doing.’ We (Allah) said: ‘O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim!’ And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers.” [Quran, Surah Al-Anbya, chapter 21, verses 68-70].
“He is the Lord of the heavens, and the earth, and everything in between. So worship Him alone, and be steadfast in His worship. Do you know of anyone equal to Him ˹in His attributes?” [Quran, Surah Maryam, chapter 19, verse 65].
3. Befriend patience, prayer and supplication as your armaments in the face of adversity and let not any setback forsake your soul that is destined to return to it’s maker. Excel in your understanding, endure time and remain unflustered knowing Allah is with those who testify, there is no God but Allah in times of hardship as well as ease.
“When My servant ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way.” [Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, chapter 2, verse 186].
“Indeed, Allah is the with the patient.” [Quran, Surah Al-Anfal, chapter 8, verse 46].
“And Allah loves the patient.” [Quran, Surah Al-Imran, chapter 3, verse 46].
“Be patient, indeed, the (best) outcome is for the righteous.” [Quran, Surah Hud, chapter 11, verse 49].
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed Allah is with the patient.” [Quran, Surah Al-Baqarah, chapter 2, verses 153-154].
4. Whatever the difficulty or loss, the justice of Allah will always prevail. The believer is never forsaken.
“….And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a (decreed) extent.” [Quran, Surah At-Talaq, 65:3].
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to Mua’ad Ibn Jabal (RA), ‘Beware of the supplication of the unjustly treated, because there is no shelter or veil between it (the supplication of the one who is suffering injustice) and Allah (SWT)’ [Sahih Al-Bukhari Book 43 Hadith 628 and Sahih Muslim Hadith 2578].
The prophet (SAW) declared, ‘Three men whose dua is never rejected (by Allah) are: the fasting person until he breaks his fast (in another narration, when he breaks fast), the just ruler and the one who is oppressed.'[Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 3598 – Graded Hasan].
5. It is our duty to proactively better ourselves and love for your brothers and sisters what you love for yourself. Upholding and protecting values such as justice and equality are a divine command.
“O you who believe, be upright for God, and be bearers of witness with justice!” [Quran, Surah Al-Ma’idah, chapter 5, verse 8].
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both.” [Quran, Surah Al-Nisa, chapter 4, verses 135-136].
1Uyghur nationalists are Turkic Altai descendants geographically located within the interior region of Asia who live among the maintain slopes. (Berlie JA, 2004)
2East Turkestan is synonymous with ‘Uyghurstan’ as political independence state name in response to the colonial name ‘Xinjiang’ enforced by the People’s Republic of China.
3Arslan Hidayat is a political and human rights activist from Australia, who is currently the acting General Secretary of the Uyghur Revival Association. See https://www.uyghurrevivalassociation.org/about-us/
4The CCP is the ‘Chinese Communist Party’ who autonomously govern the People’s Republic of China and was founded in 1921.
5Gulbahar Jalilova is a Kazakh concentration camp survivor living in Turkey as an exile. https://news.sky.com/story/the-missing-uighurs-exiled-families-haunted-by-hell-of-chinese-prison-camps-12033475
6Ürümqi is the current capital city of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region that is disputed and advocated as ‘East Turkestan’ by the indigenous independence activists.
7Sinification is a political assimilation strategy to impose a Han Chinese statehood, instil a unitary party founded on Marxist-Leninist communist ideals and enforce cultural imperialism onto neighbouring semi-/independent South and Central Asia landscapes. Forged Chinese Citizenship allegations whereby have emerged as a multitude of Uyghur, Kazakh and Tibetan refugee’s purport ethnocide.
8Urianlysis is a series of physical and chemical tests performed on samples of urine to measure the health status of a person.
9Sterilisation is a permanent surgical or pharmacological induced birth control measure where variants operations and procedures exist for male and females.
10Systematic mass rapes is a type of physical-psychological torture tactic typically employed as a weapon of war and tool of ethnic domination whereby predominantly female and to a lesser extent male are subjected to forced sexual enslavement. (Aolain F.N., 1995, The Entrenchment of Systematic Abuse, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol.8, e.285)
11Concentration camps are confinement centres whereby people are imprisoned without trial for either exploitative, military and/or false national security dissidents. Typically, concentration camps are places of appalling suffering, inhuman accommodation and leads to the death of people. https://www.britannica.com/topic/concentration-camp