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Uyghur Children in China’s Genocide: A Symposium

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority children have been seized by the Chinese government, detained, and beaten if they speak their native language, according to numerous human rights groups.

These reported violations of children’s rights will be explored in a symposium entitled “Uyghur Children in China’s Genocide” on Fri., Oct. 27, from 1-5 p.m. in Goldwin Smith Hall, room 76. The symposium will be hybrid; register in advance for the livestream.

As organizer Magnus Fiskesjö explains, the children’s parents and grandparents are Uyghur and Kazakh ethnic minority people who are detained separately, in “re-education” camps, forced labor, or prisons. Their children are put into a children's Gulag of "boarding schools" and "orphanages," currently estimated to hold up to 1 million children. Family separations and boarding schools are soon to expand to all ethnic children, he says.

“By way of brutal punishments and even sibling separation, children are forced to permanently forget their language and culture -- thus, the plan is clearly an intentional component of genocide as per the U.N. Convention -- in ways similar to the horrific 'Indian schools’ of the US and Canada’s past,” said Fiskesjö, associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Meanwhile, the rest of society is held in terror; international media is barred, and a campaign to intimidate and silence witnesses around the world, is also ongoing.”

The symposium will explore:

  • what is happening to children victimized by family separation, who are forcibly cut off from family, siblings, language, and culture
  • why is the Chinese government doing this
  • what is the nature of the deep traumas the children endure
  • how can these wounds be remedied, if the genocide is halted tomorrow

Experts, activists, and witnesses, including Uyghurs, will give presentations on these issues, including the experiences of “Indian schools” in the US and Canada. The panelists include:

  • Rukiye Turdush, independent scholar from East Turkistan
  • Zumret Dawut, camp survivor from East Turkistan, with her family
  • Adrian Zenz, Victims of Communism Museum and Memorial Foundation
  • Magnus Fiskesjö, associate professor of anthropology (A&S)
  • Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa), associate professor of performing and media arts (A&S)
  • Amy Bombay (Anishinaabe from Rainy River First Nations), Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Canada

Symposium Schedule:

1:00-1:15 p.m. Opening Remarks: Uyghur Children in China’s Genocide–context and Urgency by Magnus Fiskesjö, Anthropology, Cornell

1:15-1:30 p.m. State of Our Knowledge on the Chinese Family Separation and Child Indoctrination Policies by Adrian Zenz, Victims of Communism Museum and Memorial Foundation (12-minute pre-recording)

1:30-1:45 p.m. Indoctrination of Uyghur Children as part of the Genocide by Rukiye Turdush, an independent scholar from East Turkistan

1:45-2:45 p.m. Uyghur Experiences of Chinese Schooling by Zumret Dawut and family

2:45-3:00 p.m. Q&A moderated by Ruslan Yusupov, Fellow, Society for the Humanities at Cornell

3:00 p.m. Coffee/tea break

3:30-4:00 p.m. The Experience of Indian Schools in the USA by Jeffrey Palmer, Kiowa First Nations, Performing and Media Arts, Cornell

4:00-4:30 p.m. Trauma and Resilience: The Intergenerational Effects of Government Policies of Forced Assimilation and Child Removal by Amy Bombay, Anishinaabe from Rainy River First Nations, Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Canada

4:30-5:00 p.m. Q&A moderated by Allen Carlson, Government, Cornell

The symposium is sponsored by the East Asia Program, part of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. Cosponsors include the Reppy Program in Peace and Conflict Studies; Comparative Muslim Societies Program; American Indian and Indigenous Studies (CALS); Institute of Politics and Global Affairs (Brooks School); as well as the Institute for Comparative Modernities; Society for the Humanities; the Departments of Anthropology, Asian Studies, Sociology and Government; and the Program in Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Start Date: October 27, 2023
Start Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Goldwin Smith Hall