By Arman | Uyghur Times Uyghur Edition
Translated by Anne Kader | Uyghur Times English Edition
Le Monde, a leading French newspaper, published an editorial titled "The persecution of my people". Rufina, a 16-year-old Uyghur girl from Uyghuristan/East Turkistan, tells about the Chinese oppression of Uyghurs in their homeland, Uyghur Times Uyghur Edition reports.
“I live in France with my parents and two brothers. I am an Uyghur, a member of a nation with a glorious history, rich culture, and a beautiful language, but we have lost our country", Rufina told.
Rufina says that she came to France with her mother when she was five years old. Her father joined them three years later. The family decided to leave their homeland after the violent repression of Uyghur protests in Urumqi in 2009. Rufina's parents paid a high price for them to relocate to a more peaceful environment.
"Since we arrived in France, I have never met my grandparents again. My meeting with them was limited to a couple of short video calls a week. I also have uncles and aunts, whom I have not met again. My father could not see his relatives again."
In the article, Rufina tells about the Uyghur language and culture, and her parents' active participation in various demonstrations and other activities organized by the French Uyghur Union. "As far as we know, one in every five Uyghurs is detained in camps or forced labor. China is planning to destroy us and our culture because we are Muslim. The government is accusing Uyghurs of terrorism."
At the end of the article, Rufina tells how the Chinese government has kept on harassing her family, as well as many other Uyghurs immigrants in France. All have received threatening phone calls and mail from the Chinese consul.
"It is important to testify about Uyghurs. When I first came to France, no one knew that I was an Uyghur," she said. "In recent years, people have begun to recognize us and understand what Uyghurs are going through. We will still need to continue to work hard to make our voices heard", she says.
The article also summarizes the current situation of Uyghurs, the decisions the French parliament and the French government have taken, and the involvement of well-known brands in France in opposing Uyghur forced labor.
In a telephone interview, Rufina commented about her interview with Le Monde: “I have changed schools many times since I came to France, and every time I change schools, I have difficulties introducing my Uyghur identity to my teachers and classmates in the new environment. When I say I am an Uyghur, many of my classmates and even my teachers shake their heads in surprise. I used to get upset. My brothers later had similar problems when they started school. I think most Uyghur children living abroad have had the same problem.
In recent years, French newspapers and online magazines have produced many news and videos about Uyghurs, which has made it easier for us to introduce ourselves. I did not want to miss the Le Monde interview just because of my past negative experiences. Le Monde has a lot of readers and I am happy to be able to introduce my nation to the French readers."
Rufina's father, Mardan Bari, shared his thoughts: "It can be psychologically challenging for Uyghurs to introduce their national background. While educating our offspring about their identity, mother tongue, and culture, we also need to work hard and educate them to be proud of their 'Uyghurness' at home and school.
Addressing all the parents in the diaspora, Mr. Mardan Bari said: This kind of attitude will be a great asset to the future development and victory in our homeland. Many of us still struggle with language barriers, and our voices are muffled.
However, a brave and proud attitude can rejuvenate our dreams. I urge all the brothers and sisters to pay special attention to strengthening the instruction about our motherland and educating our growing children to love our nation! I hope Uyghur parents can unite to do this!