On April 6, the Uyghur-L.A. group scheduled a rally in Los Angeles to highlight causes in East Turkestan and the remaining population of Uyghurs in China that have been imprisoned in concentration camps. I arrived at the CAIR-LA office at 11 a.m. to phone bank for the Manzanar trip that was happening at the end of the month before leaving for Los Angeles at 1 p.m. I got there with my mom and another volunteer that drove us to Los Angeles. I was excited because it has been a while since I’ve been around that area for another rally. In addition, I was ready to be supportive and come to this rally because throughout my youth I have always supported causes for individuals who are experiencing a struggle.
I had attended an informational lecture at the CAIR-LA office two days prior to the rally and learned about what really happens in concentration camps. I already had watched a video about the Uyghurs weeks ago on social media. I noticed that history repeats itself. For example, the genocide of millions of Jews in the Holocaust and the Japanese internment in the ‘40s. I wanted to get a more detailed view of the concentration camps and how they differed from before. After realizing that they were speaking Turkish and even looked Turkish, I was surprised and wanted to get to know them better. Turkey borders Syria, which is where I am from. This was one reason it was very dear to my heart since they are so close to us in culture.
The Uyghur speakers talked about the concentration camps in China and people with family members being incarcerated or kidnapped because of their support of Muslims or speaking out for what they believe in. It was devastating to hear those stories and the fact that some lose contact with each other because the government is so strict.
When we arrived at the rally, we saw people marching with flags and posters along Hollywood Boulevard. The crowd didn’t look as big until we caught up to them. I didn’t think that many people would march, but when I joined the group it was like an army of individuals that weren’t afraid to show their support for what they believed in. I saw familiar places from school and my workplace. I felt happy knowing that many of us are activists in this nation means that we are only getting stronger as time goes on.
Many people stared and snapped photos of our group as we chanted about the Chinese government. It was uncomfortable for me being in the public eye. Showing solidarity with the Uyghurs and sharing their story feels like we are making a difference.
– Summer Kurdi is an intern in the CAIR-LA Communications Department. She studies Communications at Cal State Fullerton