Posts in "STORIES"

Aziz’s name

Yangisar Yadykar

Aziz is now thirty years old, my old friend, I keep thinking about the story he once told me, the story of how he got his name.  “My grandmother was not yet thirty when she and my grandfather firmly decided that to continue to stay in Urumchi for them was a tantamount to death and the only solution for them was to move to the Soviet Union. At that time they already had three children, two five-year-old daughters, twins -my aunts- and a thirteen-year-old son, my uncle, Aziz.


Grandfather was part of the national army. In the Union he had some connections, in Kazan and Alma-Ata. In Kazan he had friends from the Polytechnic Institute, and some of his relatives were in Alma-Ata. As a child I remember always inquiring my grandma of how she got here, she would always look somewhere to the distance and say that she sailed to Almaty on a steamboat, that would always surprised me and I did not believe. How do you come to a landlocked Alma-Ata on a steamboat? But then it turned out that there was a real shipping link across the Ili River.


The East Turkestan Republic was nearly abolished, but the bursts of fighting were still ongoing. Waiting for the necessary documents, grandmother with her children was in one of the villages near Ghulja. The river port was nearby. One of the summer days, the package arrived with documents and a letter from grandfather, where he said that they should immediately be floated on the first ferry without waiting for him. So they did. Only women and children were on the ferry, even the captain was a young girl in her early twenties. Of the male, the oldest were Aziz and a few other twelve and thirteen year olds.

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Uyghur desperation at home and in exile

Aziz Isa Elkun
Research affiliate, SOAS, University of London


In our world, when prehistoric humans had their first conscious of their humanity, they have understood how important it’s to protect their own interests against others. Since then, human history has been filled with periodic wars against each other and it caused great tragedies. Until today, many nations in the in world have suffered some forms of tragedy that caused by humans own wars. In the digital world of the 21st century, the Uyghur tragedy is none of the example and not exceptional.

Particularly beginning in this century, countries have found useful methods to peruse their interests with the tool of nationalism. The nationalism is about people, land and the relationship between them. Nationalistic propaganda seeks to define a special relationship between a unique people and a particular piece of the earth’s land.

Under the current policies being pursued by Chinese president Xi Jinping since 2016, millions of Uyghurs are suffering inhuman treatment in the internment camps within the Uyghur region, but Uyghurs in exile are also suffering because China has effectively cut off all communication between Uyghurs at home and abroad.

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An Unanswered Telephone Call

Aziz Isa Elkun

On a bright midsummer morning when you take your little girl’s hand and walk to school listening the birds singing on the way along the narrow footpath, you feel thankful to life that today will be one of your best days full of enjoyment just like any other day that you have hastily left behind you.

At that moment I was feeling this happiness, walking with my daughter, holding her hand and telling her funny stories about nature. In our magical imagination, my little girl and I turned into sparrows and flew singing among the birds on top of the big oak tree. From our home to school, we walk along three different tree covered narrow pavements, we need to cross several small roads and it takes us fifteen minutes walking.

Sometimes it’s quite difficult for us to pass people on the narrow pavement. Sometimes our way is blocked by young mothers with double buggies and tearful toddlers. We are lucky today; we meet a lady and her little girl whom I’ve known for several years. Her daughter is in my daughter’s class, and we often meet in the playground or at our children’s activities outside school. Her name is Lucie. She is French, from Nice, and she moved to London a few years ago.

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