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HomeAsiaPaintings of 'Home' celebrate the spirit of Uyghurs, says Radio Free Asia

Paintings of ‘Home’ celebrate the spirit of Uyghurs, says Radio Free Asia

“Home” has different meanings for young Uyghurs, many of whom have never visited their ancestral homeland in China’s far western Xinjiang region. This was the theme of the Uyghur Collective’s recent annual art competition, organized by a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based youth group. Uyghur artist Gülnaz Tursun praised the young artists’ sense of pride in being Uyghur, evident in their creations. She expressed her admiration for the theme, stating, “This art contest has a great theme, with each painting expressing sentiments of homeland, home and family.”

The competition was created to provide a platform for Uyghurs abroad, particularly in the fine arts, to showcase their work and uphold Uyghurism. This is especially important given the Chinese government’s measures to eliminate Uyghur culture in Xinjiang and replace it with Han culture. Munawwar Abdulla, the Uyghur Collective’s founder, initiated the competition to allow Uyghurs living in the diaspora to preserve their cultural heritage and traditions.

The competition received thirty entries from Uyghur artists worldwide, with each piece presented on the Uyghur Collective’s social media accounts for viewers to vote. The awards were announced on January 17th. The winning entry, titled “Bir Tuwgan” (Relative), by Kübra Sevinç from Turkey, was praised for its portrayal of Uyghur culture and the emotional bond between mother and child. Sevinç incorporated symbols from the Turkish world to represent the Uyghur people and Xinjiang, showing her deep connection to the Uyghurs and East Turkistan.

The art contest highlights Uyghur artists’ longing for their homeland, displaying a deep love and respect for their cultural heritage and identity. It has become a way for young Uyghurs born abroad to stay connected with their homeland despite the repression and severe human rights violations by the Chinese government in Xinjiang. The competition has provided a unique platform for them to express their perspectives and stories, reinforcing their pride in their roots and home.

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