Diary from Urumqi Part 2

I got the chance to take the following interview from him:

“Do you come from another city?” I asked.

“Yes, from the south of Xinjiang,” he responded.

“You look very young. Why don’t you go to school?” I asked.

He had a lot to say in response to my question. “Even if we have a degree, they don’t give us jobs. I know many Uyghurs who have a degree but still do not have jobs and have the same life as me. Last year, in my village, twenty of us kids, the youngest was twelve years old and the oldest was sixteen, followed one Chinese guy for work. He told he would take us to Bortala for work, and we followed him because he said that he would pay us. Like this I left my city and I haven’t been able to return up to now. He brought us to one village in Bortala. That village was full of Chinese and there were not any Muslims. We explained to him that we don’t eat pork and that we only eat halal meat, so everyday he gave us vegetable soup and one piece of Chinese bread from a Chinese family. At that time, we didn’t have any choice and we ate whatever he gave us. We worked for Chinese peasants for one month, starting at 6 o’clock in the morning until it got very dark outside, without any rest. After one month the guy paid us 50 jiao [half a yuan] for each day and then abandoned us. Think about it. Only 15 yuan total [about $ 2 USD], equal to one day’s worth of food for a normal person in Urumqi.”

“Didn’t you guys tell the government this? Didn’t the guy receive any punishment for this?” I asked.

“The law is for the Chinese,” he said. “Even if we had complained, nobody would have listened” Then I didn’t have any choice and I went to Urumqi to look for work. I thought Urumqi is a big city and maybe I can find a way to survive. I started by helping to clean up someone’s barber shop and I slept in the barbershop at night. After that, I found some kids who were like me and I slept in their small room offered by one of the Uyghur restaurant owner. We decided to make our own sweets and to sell them on the street, but they didn’t let us do this either. Not only did they throw everything on the ground and destroyed the few sweets that we had made with much difficulty, but they took all of my money as well. Now I have to go hungry again until I find another job. If I go to a Uyghur restaurant and ask for food, maybe they would give me free food one time, but I am shy, because I’m healthy and young. I don't like to ask free thing. Why is this world so dark for us? We never did anything bad. We didn’t steal something from someone.”

He continued, “The government didn’t give this Tungan [Hui] woman a death sentence, who was caught with 2 kg heroin) When the people start to forget her a little bit, I’m sure they will accept a bribe and release her. For us, it is impossible to survive even with a clean job. Now I understand why some Uyghurs risk their lives and go to Beijing to sell heroin.”.

Listening to his story, I felt very sad. I thought, “How can I help them? Financial help? But this cannot help them survive forever…” I called one of my closest friend in Urumqi who was managing his uncle’s restaurant;

-I got a boy for you; do you have a place for him?

-Don’t tell me you are trying to collect jobless boys and girls at the street, sweetie.

-So what? He has no place to go

-We already have 30 kids working here. All of them are homeless, if he has a home sent him back please.

-I don’t think it is a good idea, he has nothing to eat if he goes back.

-I know you’re gonna insist, send him to me, I am in Budun restaurant right now.

-Oh! My God, thank you! God bless you!

-But stop collecting jobless people, you know we don’t have a binanchu ( refugee camp ) here

-Stop it! Ok, I know that…

The boy that I send to my friend got the job from Uyghur restaurant, but what about the thousands of other young, jobless and desperate Uyghurs? I couldn’t answer, because there was no answer.

What else did Rukiye Turdush found in Urumqi? Keep reading the Diary From East Turkestan

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