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Diary from Urumqi




After a grueling train ride, we finally arrived in Urumqi, my city. However, I didn’t even feel like I was in my city until I reached Yen’en road and the Dong Kowruk area because I didn’t see any Uyghurs on the streets. The Chinese had occupied every place. Uyghurs were squeezed into Yen’en road and Dong Kowruk. They did business with each other in this area. Some Uyghurs who had a little bit of money had small businesses, such as small restaurants. My friends refused to give any interview to film maker. one of my friend was so angry and said to me in a quite restaurant in Uyghur: don’t walk at the street with him, uyghurs will hate you, we don’t trust them anymore, Americans sold us, they enlisted Uyghur freedom fighters as a terrorist in UN Terrorist list. I know you said that he is Canadian, but they are all the same shit.

Film maker was extremely upset that I cannot find for him anybody for his interview.

I explained to film maker the Uyghur frustration about westerners and asked him to enjoy with his beauty shots and to leave me alone for a while. I invited him to a nice Uyghur restaurant at lunch on forth day of Urumchi. he was getting very angry wanted to quit his work and go back to Canada right away.

“ look, I am not your personal interpreter, it is impossible to do this work if you want me to stick with you always, if you do not want to continue, up to you then, you can go back, but I will stay. I know you are alone, do not know the language here and frustrated, but again you are not hiring me, we are cooperating here. I ‘ll give all of the information that I got, but please don’t try to follow me always, if anywhere is convenient I’ll call you and take you with me.” he did not say anything and went back to his hotel room.

I was relieved and felt more independent, because it was extremely hard to work with the film maker who is following me like my little child.

Poor Uyghurs secretly engaged business on the street by selling homemade food or homemade handicrafts, always fearing the market police who would look for them. With my own eyes, I witnessed Chinese market police beating young boys and old women who were selling their wares on the street, throw their wares on the ground, and search them, taking what little money they had. Some sellers who resisted the police brutality only a little bit were arrested.

“Did you see that?” a Uyghur businessman with fur Russian hat who is trying to sell me silk scarf in his windowless wooden store said: “The police are real bandits in this country!” his clean shaved sharp chin was tightened with anger. We can’t do anything, hide your camera, fast! They don’t care you are the guest or women; they will destroy your camera and arrest you.” I hide my camera and quietly left from head scarf store and secretly followed the boy who had been left empty-handed by the market police.

What happened when Rukiye followed the boy? Keep following this space to read the next part.
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