Dolkun Isa دولقۇن ئەيسا

* 1967

  • "They all stayed in different camps. But they all tell nearly the same story. People get up in the morning at six o´clock. Then they sit on beton (concrete), they don´t have the right to talk to each other and look at each other. You have to self-criticize yourself. I am criminal! I did mistake! You have to say this. And everywhere they are monitoring you with a camera. Chinese government tested facial recognition and voice recognition form the cameras on Uyghurs. And also tested emotional recognition. You self-criticize and you have to show loyalty towards the Chinese Communist Party and Xi Jinping. You have to speak out loudly, the words have to come from your hearth. If the government recognizes that the words don´t come from your hearth, there is a problem. Without Xi Jinping, without the Chinese Communist Party, there is no life - you have to say this. And before you drink water – without Xi Jinping, there is no water. Without Xi Jinping, there is no food. Thank you, Xi Jinping, thank you Chinese Communist Party. You have to say this to show your loyalty. And you have to speak in Chinese. In all words you use, you have to use Chinese language. Speaking Uyghur language is forbidden. Indoctrination. This is what was happening from 2017 to 2019. And up to 2019, after two years of indoctrination and denunciation of religious and national identity, then these people became subject to forced labour. At the beginning of 2019, Chinese government set up factories inside the camps, manufactories, or outside, near the camp. Some detainees are used as forced labourers inside the camp. Those, where the government can say that they have denounced their identity, those can stay outside the camp and visit their families, ever two weeks once. Rest of them work some fourteen, fifteen hours. Yes."

  • "Before 2017, middle of April, we had regular contact when I called them. I called them once a week, twice a week. I knew my telephone conversations were monitored by the Chinese government, therefore of course, when I called them, I asked only: how are you, how is the house. Very general and all the time the same conversation. But last telephone conversation in the middle of April 2017, that time I had the feeling she wants very soon to cancel the conversation. Ok, we are very happy, don´t worry, don´t call us any more. What happened? Because in 2003 when I was labelled terrorist, and called my mother, she never said she was embarrassed. She never said not to call her. But in April 2017 she told me not to call her. We are happy, we are good. Wow. It was a signal, it was a message. I could imagine there was something serious going on at home. And one or two weeks later, I asked my wife to call my mother and then I heard my mother crying for the first time. She was crying and said please don´t call us again. Before that, when I called my mother and asked about my younger brother, who took care of them, almost five six months before, I always asked where is my younger brother Hushter? Oh, he is on business trip. I was suspecting something. Every time on a business trip? So suddenly? So I said to my wife to ask about my brother. She asked: where is Hushter? My mother was crying that time and she couldn’t speak. Because almost five six months before this last conversation, he disappeared. My brother was also jailed for two years, from 1998 to 2000, because of separatism. This was the last telephone communication with my mother, since then I we didn´t even try, because she said not to call them anymore. I knew it was a serious issue. Maybe two months later I asked my wife again to call again, the telephone didn´t work. After more then one year later, 2018, June, during Ramadan time, one of my friends who is staying in Australia, called me suddenly. Dolkun, did you have a contact with your parents? No, for more than one year. I got one news for you, your mother passed away. I was shocked, hang up the telephone." "Then later, in Radio Free Asia, Uyghur Service, Washington based, after calls to government officials, Radio Free Asia confirmed that she was detained 2017, around May or June. She stayed one year in one of the concentration camps and she died in a concentration camp."

  • "I was a student leader and I went to exile. I did not stop doing advocacy. Because thousands of students followed me and under my leadership took to the streets and we demanded equality, we demanded democratic rights. When I went to the exile, I could not stay silent and just think of my life. If I stayed silent and just thought about my personal life, the thousands of students who followed me... I have some responsibility towards them! Dolkun, you are staying in the free world, we trusted you, we followed you. You have responsibility. What did you do? This is the question for me all the time. I think I have responsibility for this couple of thousands of students. At that time, we were teenagers. Now we are middle-aged people like me. I have responsibility toward my schoolmates, classmates, to my people. So I continued with my activism. When I came to Turkey, we established East Turkestan Students Organization, we organized conferences, demonstrations. And 1996 I moved to Germany to ask for asylum, there we established World Uyghur Congress. We rose awareness. Of course, at some time we had very little opportunity, financially, etc. Nobody knew about Uyghur issue. But step by step we did some job. And 1997 Chinese government put an Interpol red notice on me."

  • "We started demonstration. A big line in the streets of Ürümqi. One hundred thousand people in the streets applauded to us, supported us, showed solidarity. And then we came back to school and planned to start again a demonstration next day. But in the night, came police and military. All over the school campus was police. And closed the doors. Because Xinjiang University has two, three gates around the campus, you could not go out. They controlled everything. And in the middle of the night, knocks on my door, I should come to the president of the Xinjiang University. I went to the office and there were forty, fifty high level officials and Janabil. He told me: I talked very friendly to you, why did you lead the people to go to the demonstration? I said, I did not lead them. They went by themselves, I cannot control them. I explained everything what we discussed. And next day, at another university in Xinjiang, the normal university, controls started. All school were under control. The next day I was house arrested, for almost for months. And it was exam time, starting in June. That year they stopped teaching for three days and only ask the students to regret. And write a written statement that they made mistake. If they would not write this, they could not get diploma. They had to self-criticize. Because 80% of students they all joined the demonstration. So they had to write statements and also orally say so. Some student said: No! Why this Chinese man who wrote the banner was not arrested? This is the reason why the anger started."

  • "In this cultural revolution time, mosques were almost completely closed. And some mosques changed into something else. At that time, there were even no social places, no bars, no restaurants. Most of the mosques were closed. And a lot were destroyed. That is why there was no religious freedom. This was no word, it was not possible. Besides, when I was growing up, my grandmother, who was a religious lady, she taught me a little bit about religion. In Kalpin, in the countryside, there was some time no electricity. Just moonlight. No electric light. Particularly in the winter, sun went down at five o´ clock. And we could just sleep in our beds. Five, six o´clock. It was evening, we could not sleep. And my grandmother told us about our history, and we listened, also about religion. So this was my knowledge about religion."

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    Praha, 17.10.2023

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    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory and Conscience of Nations
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Thousands of students followed me and demanded equal rights. Even in exile, I have a responsibility to my former classmates and to the Uyghur people.

Dolkun Isa, Prague, 2023
Dolkun Isa, Prague, 2023
zdroj: Post Bellum

Dolkun Isa was born in 1967 in the town of Aksu in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, also known as East Turkestan. He was born into a terrible time - for the first ten years of his life, the so-called Cultural Revolution raged across China under the leadership of leader Mao Tse-Tung. Millions fell victim to violence, famine and concentration camps. In 1984, Dolkun was admitted to university, studying physics at Xinjiang University in Urumqi. It was a time of „social thaw“, many of the professors at the university were former political prisoners, with whom the young Dolkun was in direct contact. He founded a student education association at the university, which sent volunteers to the provinces during the months of study leave to teach Uighur children in schools as volunteers. About half of the students at Xinjiang University were ethnic Chinese, and the Uyghurs were humiliated and disadvantaged. On June 14, 1988, hundreds of students gathered outside the university administration, with Dolkun heading the strike‘s organizing committee. In the summer he was detained and subsequently expelled from the university. He tried to set up a business in Beijing, but had to leave China in 1994 for security reasons. He has been granted asylum in Germany, chairs the World Uyghur Congress and is trying to make the world aware of the suffering of Uyghurs in Chinese concentration camps. In those camps, both his parents perished. Dolkun Isa visits the Czech Republic repeatedly, and in 2021 he organised a meeting of the World Uyghur Congress in Prague. The interview took place in autumn 2023 on the occasion of Dolkun‘s participation in the Forum 2000 conference, whose organizers we are grateful to for arranging the interview.