Let Sayragul sing!

Aziz Isa Elkun

About the poem:
this poem is dedicated to the courageous Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh from East Turkistan. She was arrested in May 2018, after crossing into Kazakhstan illegally, and in a court hearing, she gave testimony about the re-education camps in East Turkistan (Xinjiang). She has bravely spoken to the outside world about China’s “Concentration Camps.” 

When it was written:
On 1 August 2018, after arriving at Almaty airport from London, the first good news I heard was Sayragul Sauytbay’s release from detention after the Zharkent court hearing. 

Sayragul, let the Kazakh girl sing – sing, Sayragul
Sayragul, let her sing for her country – sing, Sayragul
Sayragul, let her sing for justice – sing, Sayragul
Sayragul, never stop her song – sing, Sayragul!

You are a voice for the voiceless – sing, Sayragul
You are a freedom fighter – sing, Sayragul
You are an envoy for freedom – sing, Sayragul
You hover like an eagle – sing, Sayragul!

Let’s eliminate the oppression of the Uyghurs and Kazakhs
Let’s free the Uyghur homeland from tyranny
Let our two lands live in brotherhood forever
Nightingale, in the free world – sing, Sayragul!

We share the same roots, mountains, rivers and land
We are soulmates, guided by the history we have witnessed
We are Turks, companions-in-arms, undefeated in battle
You sing for our country – sing, Sayragul!

Uyghurs are waking today with courage in their hearts
The world is paying attention to you astonished
You have become saviour for a million people
You are a flag holder for justice – sing, Sayragul!

We are grateful to the mother who bore you
We are grateful to the country that raised you
We are grateful for your tremendous courage, Sayragul
Sing out the road of truth – sing, sing, Sayragul!

02 August, 2018, Almaty


1). “Sayra” – is a Turkic language word meaning “let it sing”. For example, in Uyghur: baghda bulbul sayraydu– the nightingale is singing in the garden. Sayra is also used as a woman’s name by adding the suffix “gul” – flower. So the literal translation of “Sayragul” should be “Singing Flower.”

2). Sayragul Sauytbay is an ethnic Kazakh, citizen of China and former state employee. She was arrested in Kazakhstan in May 2018, after crossing the border illegally. In her July 2018 trial in the city of Zharkent, Sauytbay offered damning testimony about the re-education camps in East Turkistan (Xinjiang). Sauytbay testified that she had served as a political instructor in a re-education camp where she had access to secret documents about a state program to “re-educate” the Turkic peoples of East Turkestan.  Her testimony provided crucial evidence in the face of China’s denial of the camps’ existence at that time. On 1 August 2018, she was released on a six-month suspended sentence. She applied for asylum, and on June 2, 2019 she flew to Sweden where she was granted political asylum, and where she now lives with her family. 

Read the original Uyghur version of the poem:

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