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April 5th 2010
Published: April 5th 2010
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"Our" Yurt"Our" Yurt"Our" Yurt

Heavenly lake
Travelling from sight to sight; variety, beauty, adventure and other delectable contrasts to life in the daily grind; the raison d'être of one’s touristic existence can captivate and beguile in both the positive and negative sense. However, there are times when one takes a break from the extravagant exaggerated and ornate that one can experience a humbler more earthy existential. Oftentimes it is difficult to predict the merit or location of such places; those in-between, out-of -the-way, travel-hub type destinations the guidebooks may pay no heed; a shrug of the shoulders; or furnish with a sneer. For ultimately the appeal of these places is the specific reflection of a state of mind and the location aligning, the precise ingredients of the mix thus non-predictable and non-replicable. Places in which I have personally experienced this phenomena are few and far between; Mek'ele in Ethiopia, Tarija in Bolivia, and in this example Gulja, East Turkestan (aka Yining in Xianjiang, China).

Ghulja is located in the far west of China near the border with Kazakhstan, and about 700km west of Ürümqi. Xinjiang is a large central-Asian region within the People's Republic of China, and a place I had passed through some four years
Tea time!Tea time!Tea time!

previous on my journey between Kyrgyzstan and Tibet: Communism's dead! Long live communism? It comprises numerous minority groups: 45%!o(MISSING)f its population is Uyghur and 40%!a(MISSING)re Han Chinese. Ghulja mirrors many larger towns in Xianjiang in that Beijing offers financial incentives for ethnic Chinese migrants to come to the province and set up businesses. Ethnic Han Chinese dominate nearly all big businesses in the region, and now form the majority population in most cities.

Without going into too many details we decided to cut short our planned trip to Kazakhstan in order to stay in this captivating, charming, warm and welcoming place called Ghulja, for well over a week. A place we’re at pains to admit we’d never previously heard of, our ignorance all the more reprehensible due to the city’s recent history. A history that gets scant mention - if mention at all - in most guidebooks.

“On 5 February 1997, peaceful demonstrations took place in the city of Gulja (Yining) in XUAR. Hundreds, possibly thousands, lost their lives or were seriously injured. Large numbers of people were arrested during the demonstrations and their aftermath. Many detainees were beaten or otherwise tortured. An unknown number remain unaccounted for. During the crackdown, the Uighur community living in the XUAR was targeted” Amnesty International, February 2007.

“Thirteen years later, mothers, wives and children of many who disappeared in the Ghulja Massacre do not even know if their loved ones are dead or alive,” said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “The families of those who disappeared deserve to know what happened to their loved ones. It is incomprehensible that so many years later, the truth of the Ghulja Massacre continues to be hidden from the people of East Turkestan. Our grief is only compounded as we mourn the disappearance of countless others who have been arbitrarily detained in the wake of unrest in Urumchi.”
The anniversary follows a year in which an untold number of Uyghurs and Han Chinese were killed during riots in the regional capital of Urumchi. Police and military forces conducted mass arrests and arbitrary detentions of Uyghurs throughout the city. Human Rights Watch documented 43 cases and said that this was likely to be "just the tip of the iceberg"

In an apparently shrinking planet of 24 hour globalized media there is so much still to be learned and uncovered about the world we live in beyond the spectrum of opinion and the filtered lens of information. Keep on travelling.


Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


Papi and KivaPapi and Kiva
Papi and Kiva

Heavenly Lake
Heading WestHeading West
Heading West

Chinese Train



5th April 2010

love it
6th April 2010

Hey Stranger
...Haven't seen you around these parts for quite a while;-)
6th April 2010

manali tours
i really like to go to such heaven.thanks manali tour
7th April 2010

your quote is not true
the RIOT that happened in 2009 was more of a racial conflict. Hundreds of ppl died. But those dead are NOT Uyghur, but Han Chinese. It started with group of young Uyghurs from southern Xinjiang attacking and killing Han civilians in various locations throughout the city...for TWO days until the Han Chinese realized they needed to defend themselves as the government was doing nothing! I know, Chinese government and Chinese ppl have very bad pr, thanks to decades of demonization by western media. There is still a lot that needs to be improved so far as human right is concerned. But this time, as a westerner who has an open mind and traveled around the globe, you really should listen to the other side of the story, instead of blandly quoting what western and over-sea Uyghurs think...After all, Urumqi has been home for Han, Hui and Kazakh. Uyghurs are not the only residents there. Enjoy your trip and the courtesy of locals, no matter if they are Uyghur or Han.
7th April 2010

stunning landscapes! :)
7th April 2010

I’m interested as to whether you have been to Ghulja? I have actually listened to the other side of the story as sold by Chinese state run media, as well as the “demonizing by western media”. If you believe the quote in the blog to be untrue, perhaps you should take the issue up with Amnesty International. As for "blandy quoting over-sea Uyhgurs"; Rebiya Kadeer was a witness to the Gulja Massacre in 1997. She openly criticised the government in a speech before parliament, and was promptly removed from the National People's Consultative Conference. Kadeer was arrested in August 1999 while on her way to meet a US Congressional delegation investigating the situation in Xinjiang at the time, on charges of "leaking state secrets", and was convicted on 10 March 2000 in the Ürümqi Intermediate People's Court, of "endangering state security", after sending her husband newspaper clippings on the treatment of the Uyghur community. Whilst in prison, Kadeer spent two years in solitary confinement. In 2004 she won the Rafto Prize for human rights. On 14 March 2005, Kadeer was released early, and flew to the U.S., which had pressured for her release, agreed to drop a resolution against China in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. On 17 September 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed House Resolution 497, demanding that the Chinese Government release the imprisoned children of Rebiya Kadeer and Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil, and change its suppressive policy towards the Uyghur people.
27th June 2010

You have taken some great photos, love it. this website can provide some more great photos for other cities of xinjiang , www.xinjiangtravel.com
10th August 2010

permission to use photo(s)?
Hi, I am doing research on Uyghers for my church and a monthly prayer journal. Can i use some of your photos from time to time. We don't mention names, so no photo credit. This is all non-profit stuff - hope you say yes! Thanx, Laura K

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