Leo Maillart: "The destruction of traditional communities destroys centuries-old Uyghur residential culture" Leo Maillart: "The destruction of traditional communities destroys centuries-old Uyghur residential culture"

Leo Maillart: "The destruction of traditional communities destroys centuries-old Uyghur residential culture"

Leo Maillart: "The destruction of traditional communities destroys centuries-old Uyghur residential culture"

Q: Dear Leo Maillet, aka Mr. Shiraly, let's continue our conversation with you today about the destruction of Uyghur traditional communities and the transformation of Uyghur lives. As you know, Uyghur communities can be said to be a miniature homeland for Uyghurs, that is, the smallest population point where all aspects of Uyghur life are integrated. How is the Uyghur community in the eyes of foreign visitors like you? What are the characteristics and characteristics of the structure of Uyghur traditional communities, and the social and cultural life scenes in those places?

Leo Maillart: For foreigners like us who visited the Uyghur region or Eastern Turkistan before 2016, when the Chinese government built large-scale concentration camps there, the Uyghur community was indeed a place where Uyghur national culture and social life were concentrated. These characteristics are also described in many books. Regarding Yining, among foreign researchers, I believe that the characteristics and characteristics of the Uyghur communities in Yining are best highlighted in the book "Tar Kocha" by American anthropologist James Dautcher.

In this book, the author recorded his long-term investigation and research process in a community in Yining City. From this book, we can clearly see the cultural and social life of the Uighurs in the Yining countryside. We can deeply understand how they built these communities, how they built houses and gardens, and how they adapted the environment and structure of these communities to their social life. That is, these communities were established in a convenient way for them to visit each other's houses, to express love to each other, and to share food among neighbors. In the communities where the Uyghurs live, community members play a very important role. They don't sit inside the house in the open air of spring and summer, but sit outside the gate and talk to each other. They exchange information not only with neighbors in the community, but also with passers-by. During this process, he will ask if any of the neighbors need help. Mutual charity is one of the highest moral standards of neighborliness among them, and this value has become a part of their daily life.

Q: As you mentioned in the book "Tar Kocha" by Mr. Jay Daucher, Uyghurs love to listen to the song "Tar Kocha", which describes such community life. When do you think the spiritual significance of human qualities such as mutuality, neighborliness, and grace in this kind of community life is more prominent?

Leo Maillart: In my opinion, the most prominent times are during the holidays and festivals, especially during the month of Ramadan. For example, during the month of Ramzan, children sing Ramzan songs at night from house to house to wake people up and urge them to give zakat and sweets.

Although I have not personally been to Yining, but during my short visits to Kashgar and Urumqi in 2014, I saw the cultural and social life of Uyghur communities with my own eyes. In particular, I deeply realized how important food culture is in the lives of Uyghurs and their interpersonal relationships.

Q: It is known that you have conducted research on Uyghur bread culture, and even written a special book about bread and baking. We had a special conversation about how you went to Istanbul to learn baking. In addition to the Uighurs, the Turkic peoples of Central Asia also have a tradition of bread culture. In your opinion, what are the unique characteristics of the Uyghur bread culture, and what is the most attractive feature for you?

Leo Maillart: Right, I was more interested in bread, that is, baking. Uyghur bread tradition has a long history. In communities, women gather with their neighbors and help each other to burn bread together. Under the pretext of baking bread, they gossip, joke, or share news they know, and talk about various aspects of life. Baking bread and the tradition of bread are a very important part of their interpersonal relationships and spiritual life.

If someone in the community is getting married, the community will help the married host family by baking warm bread and preparing meals for the guests. Just as Uyghur daily food items have their own characteristics and preparation methods, baking bread also has its own characteristics.

Q: What characteristics have you found in the structure of houses in Uyghur communities that are linked to their social and spiritual life, and what do you think are the roles of these characteristics?

Leo Maillart: In terms of architectural differences, I believe that the houses in the Uyghur communities are very plastered together. Of course, the structure of these houses combines the characteristics of Central Asian Turko-Persian architecture from the historical process of more than two thousand years, and also formed the unique architectural style of East Turkistan. When Uyghurs use land or build communities, they have kept the tradition of planting local poplars on the banks of streams and roadsides. It's not just about taking advantage of the trees' shade or protection from wind and sandstorms, of course. They also use it to make house and household items. In Uyghur architecture, it is expressed that it was designed with consideration of the relationship between the members of the community. Usually, considering the community's activities, stoves, ovens and other necessary appliances are made in the front or back gardens of the buildings to facilitate their use.

Q: In addition to the features you mentioned, all Uyghur courtyards are green, that is, gardens. What else do you think it has to do with the blues?

Leo Maillart: Of course, gardening is also a very important aspect of Uyghur community and backyard culture. For example, the vines in the backyard are not only planted to provide shade in the summer, but are also a convenient and comfortable place to talk with friends. The French architect John Paulup, who studied the traditional residential constructions of the Uyghurs in Turpan, commented in his book on the matter that the Uyghur courtyards in Turpan have very strong ecological architectural characteristics. In my opinion, Uyghur houses and communities not only have the characteristics of ecological environmental protection, but also show the characteristics of having a very typical society.

Q: As you know, the Chinese government has recently started implementing a local regulation in Ili Prefecture that promotes the migration of ethnic groups in the Uyghur region. Therefore, it is known that the Uyghur communities are introducing Chinese immigrants into the families, changing the structure and appearance of the original community, and making the traditional Uyghur communities look Chinese in the name of "modernization" or "development". What else might the Uyghurs lose as a result of the destruction of the historical and traditional communities that marked the Uyghurs as the main indigenous ethnic group in East Turkistan?

Leo Maillart: These changes not only mean the replacement of traditional Uyghur buildings by modern buildings with Chinese characteristics. With the influx of Chinese immigrants into Uyghur communities, Chinese cultural centers and commercial establishments are gradually replacing the original Uyghur shops and markets, traditional mosques and bakeries. This will completely change the way of life in the Uyghur communities and streets that we have described above. For a long time, we have seen the Chinese government rapidly changing the traditional old communities of Uyghurs under such names. This will not only have a great impact on the social life of the Uighurs, but also have a very negative impact on the stability and environmental balance of the Uyghur community. Because the so-called "modern communities" built by the Chinese government with concrete blocks destroy the stable and natural habitat that the Uyghur-based Turkic ethnic group has built in harmony with nature in this land for centuries.




The Indian government is preparing to build a fence on the Myanmar border

On January 21, the Home Minister of the Government of India said that the India-Myanmar border will be fenced.

He said that visa-free transit between the two countries, which was previously open, will be closed again.

During the fighting between the military council and the ethnic armed forces on the India-Myanmar border, Burmese soldiers have been defeated and hundreds of soldiers have fled across the border.

Home Minister Amit Shah said, "The Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi has decided to fence the Myanmar border. Just like the border between Bangladesh and India is fenced, we will also fence the entire border with Myanmar. We are also reviewing to stop visa-free entry and exit agreements between the two countries . "

The Free Movement Regime (FMR) was implemented in 2018 to allow visa-free entry and exit between the two countries. Now, when the military took power, the soldiers of the military council took advantage of the right to cross the border and fled to India.

CDM Captain Lin Chet Aung believes that if such a fence is erected, the military council troops in that area will have escaped and closed.

"Soldiers fleeing towards India are running in squadrons. It can be said that it is due to the fact that they do not dare to fight, and their reinforcement routes can be cut off by the revolutionary forces. Due to the construction of the border fence, an exit of the troops may be closed. During their battles, the retreat route is like a main route on the Indian side. Therefore, I think the retreat route will be closed."

This fence not only closes the escape route for the military council troops, but it can also be difficult for the locals who have to leave their homes and flee to India whenever there is fighting in the area.

The Indian government should provide humanitarian assistance to the war victims in Myanmar, said Salai Dokhar, the head of the India for Myanmar group.

"Even from the beginning, when they lose the war, they take refuge on the Indian side. If even the armed take refuge in this way, how severe the war is for the country. It shows how much the innocent people and the unarmed people will suffer. The Indian government and the Indian people should have basic sympathy. If this fence is closed, depending on the battle, the people will suffer."

Rakhine Army (AA) after the military coup Armed forces from Chin State More than 60,000 refugees have fled to India due to intense fighting between the PDF and the military council.

Project manager of the Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO) in the region, Saline Thera, said, "Currently, there are 60,000 refugees in India, and it will be difficult for them to travel. If the fighting continues, if the fence is put up, the refugees will not be able to escape from that side, so there is a lot to worry about . "

Most of the refugees have fled into the Mizoram state bordering Myanmar. According to data from India For Myanmar, there are thousands of refugees in New Delhi and Manipur.

India is governed by its own state governments, so the Mizoram state government is helping the refugees in Burma, but the Manipur state government is arresting the refugees.

So, in order to release the refugees who are in Manipur state prisons, Aid groups, through the Mizoram state government, are calling on the central government to review the border fence.

It will take four and a half years to complete the fence along the border. A government official was quoted as saying by The India Express that he would need a visa to come to India. 

At present, the central government of India has ordered the repatriation of Burmese military council soldiers who fled their country. Local news reports that more than 600 military council soldiers have fled India in the past month, and plans are being made to repatriate all of them.

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