Friday, July 10, 2009

The Uyghurs

I've been reading a lot on the unrest in China lately and have been disturbed that the Uyghur people (Xinjian's minority group) are being made out to look like terrorists, while the Han Chinese are seen as victims.

Here is what I know after living among both the Han and the Uyghur people in Urumuqi, China for 5 months:

Overall, the Uyghurs are not and have never been treated well by the Han Chinese. The Hans were actually sent to Xinjiang province (then known as Uyghurstan) in order to breed out the Uyghurs.

picture of Uyghur women baking bread (gosh I miss that bread!) in a Tandoori oven

The Uyghurs are not permitted to hold high government offices and are generally poor, many living in literal mud huts. They are down trodden and oppressed by the Hans and their government and have been since their country was invaded.

In the picture below, we look down on a courtyard belonging to some of our Uyghur friends

This is their surrounding neighborhoodI never felt threatened around the Uyghurs, though many Chinese people were worried for my group's safety when we told them we were going to Xinjiang province.

It is incredibly difficult for the Uyghurs to get a good education as the good schools are taken up by the Han population (the school Noah and I taught at had roughly 4,000 students, 30 of those were Uyghurs with an administration that was entirely Han). See what they're up against?
The media is using the fact that the Uyghurs are predominately Muslim to play on our fear of Islamic extremists.
However, we found nothing but friendship and peace in our experience with the Uyghurs and I hope that one day they will be seen as equals to those that oppress them.

Free Uyghurstan!


  1. Dont you hate how the news can twist a story anyway they want to! So Sad what is happening!

  2. I've been trying to follow up on this whole unrest thing since you pointed out where it was and that you guys had been there. It really doesn't seem fair. And then the earthquake that hit earlier today in China...I almost thought it was a hoax that China put out there to distract the media.

  3. Wow, it's so crazy, it reminds me of "left to tell" these horrible things are happening across the world and we know very little about it. I feel like I can't trust the media to give me facts. What beautiful pictures, I am so glad you and Noah got to do that. What a life changing experience. (This is Janell BTW)

  4. You go girl! Keep getting the "other side" of the story out there. Our so-called "news" always seems to lean one way or another. It isn't a straight telling of the facts, without opinions coloring it. I sometimes wonder if journalists should be banned from using adjectives and adverbs. (probably wouldn't solve the problem) I'm proud of you guys.