From Refugee to Rights Defender – interview with Uyghur poet Aziz Isa Elkun


Tell me, please more about your family and childhood and education background?

I was born in Shayar county in East Turkistan. The region was occupied by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 and re-named in 1955 as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Shayar is located close to the Tarim River on the northern edge of the world’s second largest desert, the Taklamakan. I lived in our village Yengi Chimen until I finished my primary school. My early memories of my family are of my mum carrying me to school on her back, and coming home and finding there was no food to eat. That was the last years of the China Great “Cultural Revolution” and I always felt hungry.
After finishing Primary School I went to boarding school in our local town Toy Boldi.  I didn’t know at that time that was I was saying goodbye to the village and would never live there again. In 1985 I went to No. 1 High School in Shayar Town. I passed the University exam and in 1988 I was accepted to study Russian and Chinese languages at Xinjiang University.

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I miss you my country

translated by Aziz Isa Elkun

(poet unkown)

The pain in my soul and tears in my eyes

If I see a Uyghur person coming in the distance
My desire will come flooding in like the sea
I miss you my country. 

I can’t stand a moment without thinking of you
You are there at the most beautiful cliff
I can’t stay a moment without thinking of you
You are there in my beautiful dreams.
I buried my greatest hopes inside you
I miss you my country. 

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Chimenqush – a flower bird

Chimengul Awut she is a well known Uyghur (female) poet and. Her pen name is “Chimenqush” (a flower bird). She worked for Kashgar Uyghur Publishers as a senior editor before she was taken away to the China’s Concentration Camps in July 2018. She’s good friend of mine, last time I have spoken with her on the phone in August 2016. Here is her shortest poem written for her son on 17th July 2018 before her arrest. Poem extracted from her WeChat page. 

She wrote:

“My dear son
Please don’t cry
The whole world will cry for you!” 

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