Dilnaz Kerim writes about her campaign for her family members and the genocide of the Uyghur people.
Imagine someone depriving you of the hopes and desires you have for your future. Being uncertain of whether you will be able to see the sunrise again.
Omerjan was 8 when I saw him. Now, as an 18 year old, he must have hopes and dreams of what he wants to do in future, just like us young people. He was a funny boy who enjoyed playing practical jokes on us. His humour and unforgettable sweet laugh is one of the fondest memories I cherish. Now, because all his aspirations have been crushed by the Chinese Government, he can’t live the life he wished for. These are the same people who tell me that he doesn’t exist on their official records.
My name is Dilnaz Kerim, I am an 18 year-old Uyghur living in London. I want to share my story with you.
30 years ago, my father was imprisoned for six months and was blamed for organising a protest he knew nothing about. He was tortured, and brought to the condition where he could not stand by himself. After his release, he got treated and was forced to migrate from the land where he was born and spent his childhood. It has been 27 years, yet he still cannot return to his home, as he would be tortured till death.
Don’t you think it is a painful feeling being unable to stay with your loved ones?
In the Uyghur Region, millions of Uyghurs are detained in concentration camps and prisons. They are tortured, beaten, raped and forcibly sterilised. Thousands of Uyghur people are sent to factories to work as slaves. This is happening to innocent people. This is happening to my people!
In 2011, my mother and I, alongside my two siblings, visited my relatives in the Uyghur Region. My siblings and I were so excited to finally meet with my relatives. However, the police turned my excitement into fear. For the first three days, police from every city and town came to my grandmothers’ house and interrogated us. They hovered around the house with huge weapons and even took us to the police station to check our passports, visas and for more questioning.
Unfortunately, they threatened us to not talk about what the policemen did to us but to only say good things that happened. We had to agree in order to stay with my grandmother. We kept in contact with the Norwegian embassy in Beijing to make sure we were safe there.
During the recent pandemic we have all experienced the pain of being away from our loved ones, but the pain is permanent for me. Now it has been 6 years and I haven’t heard from my grandmother and the rest of my family. The Chinese government tells me that my family is living a happy, normal life. However, I have also been told that my cousin Omerjan and his family don’t exist on their official records. How can the Chinese government just take away my family like that, stealing such an important part of me? Whilst my friends go out with their families, I just have photos and memories to hold onto.
I believe this is a Genocide! No person should go through what my people face. No human should be tortured, forced into slavery or sexually abused simply due to their ethnicity.
I need your help to find my family. I urge all the young readers to issue a call to action by writing to their MP asking them to support #FindMyFamily campaign in order to provide justice and fair representation to the Uyghur Community.
Thank you, Dilnaz Kerim
Take action to support Dilnaz: Please write to your MP asking them to support’s Dilnaz’s #FindMyFamily campaign. You can find the name and contact details of your MP here: