Oslo: The ultimate goal of the Chinese government is to completely eliminate the culture, language and identity of the Uyghurs, said Gulchehra Hoja, a journalist working for the US-based organisation called Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Speaking at a human rights foundation named Oslo Freedom Forum, Hoja said since she started working for RFA, she has not been able to return to her home. She used to work at state-run Xinjiang TV, but following her bitter realisation about the Chinese-run propaganda about Uyghurs, she left her job and moved to the US.
Talking about her journey, she said, “When I travelled to Europe in 2001, I heard real and uncensored Uyghur history on Radio Free Asia for the first time. I suddenly realised about my job that I loved, which had little do with Journalism, and everything to do with China’s state-run propaganda.”
“I felt guilty for lying to my own people and I felt used by the Chinese government. I decided then to escape China and work for Radio Free Asia in the United States. It was the most painful decision that I ever made in my life as I was warned that it would put my family at risk but I couldn’t lie anymore,” Hoja added.
She said nearly 1.8 million people are believed to be held in internment camps in China.
Further talking about her journey, she said, “When I first started in the US, I had nobody and I had lost all my achievements in China. I went from being somebody to being nobody. But deep inside, I was happy. And I would never again contribute to the structure of lies that keep the Chinese tyranny in power.”
After the Chinese government got to know about her Radio programme in the US, they started harassing her family and friends.
“Chinese security agencies tried to take my American freedom and wanted to ensure silence by holding members of the family hostage. They wanted me to stop reporting and wanted me to return to be my homeland to be silenced,” she said.
Hoja, who didn’t get subdued by the Chinese government, continued her reporting with more vigour in the US, telling stories about the Uyghurs in China.
“My focus became the enforced disappearances and crackdown on religious freedom. Also, mass surveillance in the Xinjiang province like an Orwellian-state. I even testified in the US Congress. As a result, they took my parents off along with my family members to the camps in 2018,” she said.
“After my testimony in Congress, several leaders wrote to China demanding the release of my parents. Thanks to several legislators, most of the family members are free today,” she added.
Hoja further said her story is not unique and there are millions of Uyghurs like her, who are separated from their families. “I am trying to tell their stories as a Journalist.”
“The ultimate goal of the Chinese government is to completely eliminate the culture, language and the identity of the Uyghurs in China,” she said.
She said the onus is on the world to recognise this fact and come forward to help the Uyghurs in China.