“From East Turkestan to Western Europe”

About the Dissertation Project

A handicraft in Etles Uyghur Restaurant (London)

After getting acquainted with the field of journalism, our teachers guided us on how to start a dissertation and gave us some tips on choosing a topic. Before coming to Cardiff, I thought that my thesis would be about people from Kazakhstan or Central Asia. As soon as I entered the university lecture room, I noticed that I am the only representative not only of Kazakhstan, but also of Central Asia, the CIS and the Turkic nations. In such an international environment, I thought about topics that only I can do (only I have better access). One of my main goals as an aspiring journalist was to pick a hot topic of public interest and shed light on a previously unspoken story. Having analyzed the aforementioned features and possibilities, I decided to produce a TV documentary about the life of the Uyghur diaspora in Great Britain. However, the coronavirus also left its footprints in our plans. During the dissertation season, we had to change the TV project to the radio format due to travel and face-to-face meeting restrictions in the UK. Fortunately, the gradual easing of lockdown in July and August allowed me to attend topic-related events and meet some interviewees in person, which helped me complete the task.

Protestors at the peaceful demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in London

As western media reports, since 2017, Uyghurs (as well as other ethnic Muslim minorities) have been facing challenges as a result of the Chinese anti-terrorism campaign in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or East Turkestan. People with no criminal charges have been undergoing harsh human rights violations in the form of mass arrests, forced labor, forced sterilization and abortion, physical and psychological torture, organ harvesting and strict surveillance, prohibiting on religious practices, cultural activities and the use of native Uyghur language in the region. Some human rights organizations and scientists researching the area call these incidents as a “cultural genocide”. These difficulties, having its beginning from Chinese invasion into East Turkestan in 1949 and subsequent acts of discrimination and persecution of ethnic minorities, forced some Uyghurs leave their homeland. They migrated to different parts of the world in search of a safe place to live. They also came to Great Britain, one of the countries in Western Europe. So do the Uyghurs feel insecure despite living far from China? How did they get the UK? How do they preserve their national identity?

You will find the answers to these questions in my radio documentary program called “From East Turkestan and Western Europe”. Play the video below.

Thank you for your attention!

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