In Amsterdam’s Leiden Square thousands, including reporters and politicians, visited “Uyghur Voices,” where evidence of the genocide was on display.
By Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur
November 3, 2022
The author with his children at the exhibition.
A photo exhibition reflecting the Uyghur genocide under the title “Uyghur Voices” was held at Amsterdam’s Leiden Square from October 25 to October 31. I was invited and interviewed by Gatool Katawazi of De Balie as part of the 2022 Freethinkers’ Week in Amsterdam. De Balie is a Dutch organization that produces independent journalistic programs about art, culture, and politics, and is located at Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen 10, near the Leidseplein in Amsterdam.
In early October, the organizers of the Freethinkers’ Week decided to include the event “Uyghur Voices” in their program, and the same Gatool Katawazi had separate interviews with Chinese camp survivors Omir Bekali and Kalbinur Sidiq, and activists in the Netherlands Arik Ablikim, Ahmedjan Kasim, myself, and others about the genocide in East Turkestan (Ch. Xinjiang). We were also invited to the opening ceremony of the event, which began on October 25.
It was in fact Katawazi who was at the origin of the exhibition. On October 16, she visited my protest site in Dam Square in Amsterdam, observed my one-man campaign, and had a short conversation with me. My material, which revealed the extent of the Chinese government’s genocide against the Uyghurs, captured her interest. We agreed that I will submit my materials for this event. This was a good promotion for my new organization, “Support Uyghurs,” as well as a welcome opportunity to achieve more support for our persecuted people in Amsterdam on a cooperative basis.
On October 25, at 3 PM, the opening ceremony of the “Uyghur Voices” exhibition began with a speech by Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam. A large display booth was placed in the Leidseplein. It showed the sign “Uyghur Voices,” and briefly explained the Uyghur genocide. Two large monitor screens were placed inside the display booth, one at the entrance of it. On the screen, the pictures of detained Uyghurs from the leaked Chinese “Xinjiang Police Files” were shown, which shocked the world a few months ago.
The second screen showed other images of the genocide, testimonies of camp survivors, and other videos. On the square in front of the display booth, two large 7-meter banners by “Support Uyghurs” with images of the Uyghur genocide attracted the attention of passers-by and tourists.
The author’s children proudly supporting the exhibition.
My one-man protest against the Chinese government’s atrocities to the Uyghur is having a strong impact on my children as well. They are proud of their father when they see my activities on YouTube. My boys, who had seen great pictures and videos of the event, were very excited to visit it. I proudly went there last Saturday with my children. Because it was a weekend, there were many visitors.
The words “Uyghur Voices” written in large letters caught the crowd’s attention. I had to constantly explain to those interested the history of East Turkestan, showing historic maps, and offer evidence of the genocide being perpetrated against the Uyghurs. The slogan “Never Again” should still be repeated in the 21st century, as another genocide is happening in East Turkestan under Chinese occupation.
While I was there, a Dutch politician representing the Labor Party (PvdA), member of the European Parliament Thijs Reuten, visited the exhibition. He listened to my story, and heard the details of the circumstances of my 19 family members who have been missing for five years. I also explained the activities I have been doing to trace the whereabouts of my family for the last four years. Even with the Netherlands’ diplomatic involvement, the Chinese government is non-responsive and has not answered my requests. The disappearance of my family is living proof of the Chinese government’s crimes, which affects millions of Uyghurs. MEP Reuten expressed his great sympathy for the Uyghurs, and promised to promote awareness of the Uyghur genocide.
It is my sincere hope that my personal activities and sacrifices in the one-man protest of the last four years will become a solid foundation for the “Support Uyghurs” organization, and will bring many more like-minded individuals and entities to work together and efficiently towards a common goal. The “Uyghur Voices” exhibition has been an important starting point.