Protect the Uyghur Language this International Mother Language Day



February 21, 6:00 PM ET

Sabrina Sohail:

(650) 703-4523

Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) celebrates today, International Mother Language Day, which was first announced by UNESCO and was formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2002. On this day, we acknowledge the importance of the Uyghur language in the cultural preservation of the Uyghur people, especially as the Chinese Government continues to perpetuate genocide with the intent to fully erase the Uyghur culture. The Uyghur language is a Turkic language spoken by around 20 million Uyghur people in East Turkistan, as well as by Uyghurs in the diaspora. Uyghur is a rich language heavily integrated with riddles, folktales, poetry, and novels.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is restricting the Uyghur cultural identity, especially their language, under the reasoning that it may “harm the harmony” of the Chinese community. During the early and mid-2000s, language policy in East Turkistan was dramatically changed, and the entire Uyghur education system started to shift from being taught in Uyghur to Chinese. By the 2010s, all the classes except for Uyghur literature were being taught in Chinese, and today, the Uyghur language is under full-blown attack by the CCP. 

In 2016, Uyghur literature textbooks were marked as “separatist” by authorities for including Uyghur history and were taken out of school systems. The editors of the textbooks were detained and sentenced to prison for ‘inciting ethnic hatred’. Mr. Yalqun Rozi, a renowned writer, literary critic, and the father of CFU’s General Secretary Kamalturk Yalqun, was the Chief editor of these textbooks and was amongst those who were unlawfully imprisoned by the CCP. In 2017, the Uyghur language was banned from being spoken in schools and was erased from street signs, murals, and bookstores. It was reported that Adil Tursun, an Uyghur educator was sentenced to seven years in prison for violating Chinese policy and instructing his students in the Uyghur language.

CFU Executive Director Rushan Abbas says “We celebrate International Mother Language Day while bearing in mind that the Uyghur language is on the verge of being destroyed by the CCP. Any nation, any ethnicity should be allowed to embrace their culture and speak their mother language, but Uyghurs are punished and seen as “separatists” for doing exactly that. We, therefore, fight for the Uyghurs and other Turkic groups’ human rights and their right to celebrate their culture. We also call on the international community to take tangible actions to stop the genocide and ethnic cleansing taking place in East Turkistan.”      

CFU is proud to celebrate this day and uses this opportunity to remind the world of the injustice and crimes taking place in East Turkistan. We call on all governments to hold China accountable for the Uyghur Genocide and stop China’s attempt to wipe the Uyghur culture, history, and language, off the face of the Earth.  



Campaign for Uyhgurs

We defend the human rights of uyghur people and the free world by exposing and confronting the chinese government's genocide, and empowering uyghur women and youth in the diaspora.


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