In January 2022, Leila Uyghur Foundation published a new book titled ‘Daddy, Daddy, when are you coming home?’ The book aims to teach children about the unique value of ethnicity and deter racial prejudice.
Uyghurs are a Turkic people, primarily residing in East Turkestan. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party occupied their natural resource-rich country, Uyghuristan/East Turkistan, and renamed it ‘Xinjiang’, meaning a new frontier in Chinese. There are about 15-20 million Uyghurs currently living in their homeland. There is also a smaller population of Kirghiz, Uzbek, Kazak, Tajik, and a large population of recent Han Chinese settlers living in this region.
The land of East Turkestan is about four times the size of California. Since 1949, Uyghurs have been facing systematic discrimination, repression and have become second-class citizens in their homeland. In 2017, systematic genocide toward Uyghur, Kirgiz, Kazaks, and Uzbeks began. Millions of Uyghurs, Kirghiz, Uzbeks, and Kazaks have been removed from their homes and taken to Nazi-style concentration camps.
The authorities have pressured Uyghurs and other Turkic groups to renounce their Islamic beliefs and cultural identity and forced them to unpaid labour in factories and cotton fields. In addition, they must endure physical and mental torture, sometimes resulting in death. There is an increased risk of becoming a victim of organ harvesting for the international organ market.
The government has removed half a million Uyghur children from their parents and grandparents and placed them in state-run orphanages where they have no contact with family members. This practice not only disrupts family life but eliminates any possibility of maintaining their native Uyghur language, culture, and religious practice.
As of 2021, the horrible atrocities are still occurring, and the world knows little about the Uyghurs’ plight. To raise awareness about the current situation and garner more international support to end this genocide, Leila created her book “Daddy, Daddy, When Are You Coming Home?”. Although this story is fiction, it is based on real-life events, and the characters reflect this reality.