Accepted paper:

Oral history on 'cultural revolution' in Xinjiang: how a group of young Uyghurs and Kazakhs fled to Soviet Kazakhstan in 1970


Ablet Kamalov (University Turan)

Paper abstract:

The paper will discuss one of the latest episodes in the history of migration of the Muslim population from Xinjiang to Soviet Kazakhstan, relating to the illegal crossing of the Soviet-Chinese state border by a small group of young Uyghurs and Kazakhs escaping political repressions during the 'cultural revolution' turmoil in Urumchi (Xinjiang). The core of the group of six young people who crossed the border in early 1970 consisted of two daughters and a son-in-law of the former deputy of Chairman of the Xinjiang provincial government Mamtimin Iminov (Uyghur), who became a victim of the cultural revolution. Mamtimin Iminov had been arrested by the Red guards (Chin. hongweibing) and died in the prison after having been brutally tortured. The young people settled in Soviet Almaty, and two eventually became prominent intellectuals: Uyghur poet Dolkun Yassin (Yassnov), and Kazakh historian Alymghazy Dauletkhanuly. The paper draws on interviews of members of that group, only three of whom are still alive (Iminov's daughters, one of whom passed away quite recently), and puts this episode into the wider context of political developments in Xinjiang in the 1950-1960s, mass migration of the Uyghurs from Xinjiang to Soviet Central Asia, Soviet-Chinese confrontation of the 1960-1980s, as well as life and activities of former Uyghur political leaders in Soviet Republics of Central Asia.

panel HIS-08
Oral Histories: Uyghur, Tajik, and Uzbek disrupted lives