Seminar: Linguistic Repression and Cultural Genocide against the Uyghurs (Univ. of Texas)

Event Date: October 18, 2021

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Organized by Avi Ackermann (Junior, Plan II Honors Program); Hosted by Anthony C. Woodbury (Faculty, UT Linguistics Department)

Although the language rights of officially recognized minorities are protected by Chinese law, these languages and their speakers have been increasingly targeted by government repression in recent years. Since 2016, plans to phase out local languages have been combined with a larger campaign of mass imprisonment, forced assimilation, eugenics, and cultural destruction against the Uyghurs and other Turkic groups indigenous to the modern-day Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Abduweli Ayup is an Uyghur linguist, poet, and activist. After receiving an MA in linguistics at the University of Kansas, he returned to the Uyghur region and used his expertise to establish Uyghur-language schools. In 2013, in retaliation for his efforts, he was imprisoned and tortured for over a year. At the time, his case was taken up by the New York Times, along with organizations such as the Linguistic Society of America. Abduweli was released in 2014, just before the Uyghur people as a whole were to be targeted in the same way.

Since his release, Abduweli has been one of the most vocal activists in the Uyghur diaspora, giving invaluable firsthand accounts of the oppression his people face. As part of the Linguistics Department’s series on Linguistic Bias and Discrimination, Abduweli will share his perspective on the repression of his native language both as a linguist who has studied it, and as a human being who has experienced it at great personal cost.

For background on the Uyghur Crisis:

·       Xinjiang Victims Database:

·       Compilation of survivors’ accounts:

·       Investigative reporting in Xinjiang and Turkey. Abduweli is among those interviewed:

CONFERENCE LINK:  Passcode: 495551