Enter The Dragon: Uyghurs In China (Behind The Scenes)

I was preparing to go to an exhibition of
my work in China and I reached out to a couple of journalists that have spent a lot of time
there saying, “Is there anything that kind of piques your interest about China, like
if you could do any story, what would you do?” And one of these journalist said, “Man,
I would love do to a story about these two brothers that right after 9/11, were arrested
and put in Guantánamo Bay.” And it turned out that the brothers were Uyghurs, which
is a Muslim population living in a remote region of Northern China. It was a story that I thought was important
about when the US government rounds up all these people, that there are consequences
even if the people are found to not be terrorists. These two brothers had been rounded up with
a lot of other people, in and around Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they went through Guantánamo
and the interrogations and all that stuff and it was determined by the United States
government that these men were not terrorists. There were, in fact, farmers. The US government
had a dilemma, because they knew that if they sent them back to China there was a very good
chance that they would be executed. China heavily persecutes the Muslim population that
lives there. The US government reached out to a bunch of
different countries to see if anyone would take them, and these two farmers from a very
remote part of China actually ended up living in Romania. I went to Northern China because
I was very interested in seeing if I could track down the family of these two brothers.
My fixer in that area, who is Uyghur himself, was so scared that more punishment would be
brought upon the families of these two brothers that he said, “I can get you close, but I
can’t take you all the way, because there is a very good chance that they will be treated
even more harshly by the Chinese Government if they feel that journalists are trying to
interview them.” It’s like they’re guilty even though they were proven innocent. In
the end, I backed away from the story.

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