This section is a collection of comics, interactive long-form articles, and visual narratives that highlight the lived experiences of individuals within the Turkic Muslim diaspora. These stories provide personal insights and anecdotes into developments within the region and community perspectives.

Header image: I Escaped a Chinese Internment Camp
Fahmida Azim, Anthony Del Col, and Josh Adams, INSIDER, 28 December 2021

How I escaped a Chinese internment camp

The following comic shares the story of Zumrat Dawut, a Uyghur mother of three from Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital city. In 2018, Dawut was asked to come into the local police station for what she thought was a standard check-in. Instead, she was forcibly detained in a re-education centre for 63 days before returning to her family and subsequently moving to the United States. This story visualizes a series of Dawut’s interviews and testimony given to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Ben Mauk, The New Yorker, 26 February 2021

Inside Xinjiang’s Prison State

Ben Mauk’s report traces the experiences of several detainees and their families to paint a picture of what life in Xinjiang has been like for the region’s ethnic minorities. The article is divided into chapters that describe, among other experiences, how Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities catch the state’s attention, endure detainment and reeducation, and witness the state penetrate into their daily lives through policies like the “Becoming Family” (fanghuiju) campaign. The report also features evocative infographics and audiovisual materials.

Alongside this article, the New Yorker released a VR documentary following the stories of three men who were detained together in a reeducation camp in Tacheng, Xinjiang. The documentary can be found here.

沉默的绿洲 三

Chronicles Turkistan

This series of comic strips about life in contemporary Xinjiang is created by an artist who goes by Oozgur, often in collaboration with the individuals whose experiences inform the stories. Some strips follow ordinary Uyghurs and Kazakhs as they experience everyday acts of discrimination and mourn the disappearance of their culture, while others feature surreal dramatizations of fears and anxieties generated by developments in the region.

No Place Safe: One Uighur Man’s Journey from a Chinese Prison to Turkey.

This graphic story explores the implications of Turkey and China’s growing relationship with Turkic Muslim communities living in the two countries. This article follows the story of Adel Abdulghufor, a Uyghur living in Kashgar, who was swept into the detention system after the 1997 protests in Ghulja. While this is an uncorroborated account, it provides insight into historic ethnic tension within the region and the current atmosphere of fear minority communities experience.

 Al Jazeera Media Network, September 2020

Living in the Unknown

Living through the Unknown is an interactive long-form article and a VR documentary that emphasizes the struggle of Uighur populations living away from China. There is an interactive component where the reader can follow the lives of four young women fighting to preserve their culture and heritage. The VR documentary tells the story of three different people as they struggle with losing contact with their family members in China, producing a feeling of hopelessness akin to being in limbo.

Shimizu Tomomi, Note, 10 March 2020

What has happened to me ~The story of an Uyghur man who now lives in Japan~

Artist Shimizu Tomomi shares the story of Muharram Muhammadali, a young Uyghur man whose career moved him abroad to Japan. He struggled with the move fearing the re-education policies being established within Xinjiang would separate him from his family permanently. Using testimony from the Xinjiang Victim’s Database, this comic highlights the struggle for young people in present-day Xinjiang tasked with the uncertainty of what will happen to those they love when leaving China.