Bahram Sintash with his father, Qurban Mamut, in Washington, D.C., in February 2017.
China is trying to destroy Uighur culture. We’re trying to save it
  • Mon, 03/18/2019 - 22:09

By Bahram Sintash
March 18 at 2:23 PM

Bahram Sintash, who was born in Xinjiang, China, lives in the United States. Since January, he has been building to preserve digital copies of the popular Uighur journal Xinjiang Civilization.

After my father, Qurban Mamut, was taken by Chinese authorities to an indoctrination camp about a year ago, I remember thinking with deep sadness of his words to me as a child: “You were born during a very good time.”

My father, a prominent Uighur intellectual and the former editor in chief of the Communist Party-controlled Uighur journal Xinjiang Civilization, was comparing his youth during the Cultural Revolution to mine. I was born in 1982, just days after China’s constitution was modified in part to clarify citizens’ fundamental rights and reflect Deng Xiaoping’s determination to lay a lasting foundation for domestic stability and modernization. As a result, I grew up during a Uighur cultural renaissance that included an outpouring of Uighur novels, history books, journals, art, music, films and TV shows. Students studied the Uighur languagein school from kindergarten to college.

“You are from a lucky generation. I hope what happened to us never happens again,” my father had said as he showed me the scars on his back from the torture he had endured for supporting the Chinese revolutionary Liu Shaoqi. The Red Guards captured my father in 1967. During his captivity, they hung him by his wrists and whipped him.