Voice of America’s Uyghur Documentary Film Earns New York Film Gold Award

Kasim Kashar

Tursun Uyghur, April 22, 2024

Washington—A documentary film telling the story of Kasim Kashgar, a former Uyghur educator and entrepreneur who fled Chinese persecution to the United States, produced by Voice of America, was awarded the prestigious 2024 New York Festivals in the category of documentary/human rights.

Kasim Abdurehim Kashgar founded a language school named Atlan Language Training Center in Urumqi, the capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. For over a decade, from the early 2000s until Kashgar was forced to leave China, thousands of Uyghurs learned languages at his once-famous language school, which was forcibly closed by Chinese authorities after he fled the country in 2017 due to increased repression and arbitrary mass internment of Uyghurs. Kashgar later joined Voice of America as a journalist.

Kashgar said on Twitter, “Absolutely honored to have been part of this incredible journey with such a dedicated team at @VOANews! Thank you, @JessicaJerreat, Elizabeth, Amy, and Yass for your passion and commitment to telling important stories like mine. Congrats to everyone involved in this well-deserved recognition! #NYFTVFilmAwards”

USAGM, the governing body of VOA said: “Two VOA documentaries earned gold in the Documentary/Human Rights category for TV and film. The first winner, VOA News Center’s ‘From Fear to Freedom: A Uyghur’s Journey,’ follows journalist Kasim Kashgar, a Uyghur from Xinjiang, who sought U.S. asylum in 2023 and speaks about his exile.”

The official website of the documentary describes it as follows: “’From Fear to Freedom: A Uyghur’s Journey’ is a documentary about Uyghur exile Kasim Kashgar, who describes the creeping surveillance and persecution of his people in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region and his eventual escape to the U.S. Through interviews with an expert on the Uyghur plight, journalists, and Kashgar himself, ‘From Fear to Freedom’ illustrates how one man went from living in fear under the Chinese government to finding the courage to speak out.”

The organizer of the award said on its website: “Anchored from New York City’s Lincoln Center, over 160 teams sent their acceptances from around the world. Special vignettes featured industry leaders who shared their creative journeys.”

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