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Case of Ablajan Awut Ayup, a missing Uyghur pop singer

By UyghurTimes

Apr, 06 2022

Image: Ablajan Awut Ayup's video "Ana Yurt"

Based on Tahir Mutallip Qahiri's lecture at Georg-August University of Goettingen 2020/2021

Edited and translated by Anne Kader

Ablajan Awut Ayup is an Uyghur pop singer who went missing in 2018. Born in 1984, he grew up with his five siblings in a peasant family in the village of Guma in the Hotan district.

Ablajan attended Uyghur elementary school and finished middle school in 1998. He was then awarded a stipend for Pedagogical School in Turpan to study painting. In 2001 he completed his three-year studies in Turpan.

Ablajan worked as a school teacher in his home village between 2001 and 2006. His subjects were painting and music. In September 2006, he began studying musicology at the Xinjiang Institute of Art, which he finished with good results two years later. Between July 2008 and February 2018, he worked in Ürümči as a freelance artist.

Suddenly, his promising pop career came to a halt: The Chinese authorities arrested Ablajan in February 2018. It remains unclear where he is and what the government accuses him of.

"Soon after Ablajan's arrest, his close friend sent a message to our Radio Free Asia revealing some facts about his disappearance. Ablajan was initially detained by Guma Sanju police, interrogated for a day, and released. However, he was re-arrested by the state security police in Urumqi on February 15, and has not been heard of since", RFA Uyghur Service wrote in May 2018

Ablajan's first success was in 2010 with the song 'Mäšräp Nawasi'. The state-owned "Xinjiang TV" broadcasted it on live TV. By the time of his arrest, he had created more than 100 songs, including 'Men šu' [That's me, 2014], 'Güzäl Arzu'[Beautiful hope, 2014], and 'Šahzadä' [Prince, 2015].

Image: Ablajan Awut Ayup's video "Dear Teacher"

Ablajan is known for his Michael Jackson-style performances. Later he did many children's songs. His music displays a combination of tradition and modernity. The lyrics contain numerous traces of Uyghur folklore and culture. The most popular topics of his songs are love, childhood, the homeland, and the collective memory of the Uyghurs. Ablajan's love for the Uyghur mother tongue can be seen and heard in his songs 'Söyümlük mu'ällim' [Beloved Teacher] and 'Elipbä naxšisi' [Alphabet song).

In his songs, he subtly displays the relevance of the Uyghur mother tongue. They include indirect criticism of modern civilization (vague depictions of the difficulty of human existence in the modern age).

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