For this one evening they are blue wolves. NurrissamIsmailova stands laughing on the stage in a glittering dress, next to her the musician Artur Ilakhunov. Together they sing his song Kök böre biz , "Blue Wolf", blue as the Uighur independence flag. This year it became an anthem of the exiled Uighurs, it is about the desire for independence and cohesion like the wolves. Ismailova and Ilakhunov are Uighurs, as well as many in the audience here in a cultural center in the north of Munich. With tears in their eyes, they clap in time, children dance around, some tune in to the repetitive call. Hum, hum, hum. Like the faint echo of a fight cry. "At that moment I had a brief feeling that the day will come when we are free," says Nurrissam Ismailova later.
Over one million Uighurs are held in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in Chinese re-education camps. Recently leaked Communist Party documents show that the target of more than one hundred camps is the brainwashing of the Muslim minority. Their culture should be expelled from them. Almost every exile Uighur now in Munich has relatives who have been suddenly disappeared or arrested in recent years. "For years, we have not been able to convince the world of the truth about the camps," says Madina Tursun, 32. "But now China has done it with the leaked documents itself."
It has spread a lot of courage
How to deal with the new attention, some exile Uighurs do not know themselves yet. They are torn between the hope that everything will change now and that foreign countries will help their people, and the skepticism, if not everything stays that way and no state wants to seriously engage with the world power China. But nevertheless, especially in Munich has spread a particular courage among the Uighurs. Many speak openly, demonstrate, celebrate their culture and do not be intimidated. While China wants to exorcise their relatives the Uighur culture, they want to keep them even more in exile.
Here in Munich is probably the place where the exile Uighurs feel the strongest: In no European city live so much of them, it is their political center. It was here that the first Uighurs who went to the West moved in the 1970s, and this is where the Uyghur World Congress is headquartered. About 700 Uighurs live in Munich, in all of Germany there are 1,500. And they are becoming more: the number of asylum applications from Uyghurs has been rising for three years, and the protection rate, according to the Federal Office for Migration, too. And it has been just that long since the Uyghur community in Munich changed as well.
"Since 2017, we have moved closer together," says Nurrissam Ismailova. Since the contact with most relatives in Xinjiangabriss and many were brought to camp. The Munich Uyghurs sought comfort together, while begging for their siblings, parents and grandparents. What the trigger was that their families were interned, they do not know. According to the leaked documents, one is already suspicious if one prays to Allah daily, does not drink alcohol or travels abroad more often.
Those who particularly support the community and culture of the Uyghurs in Munich are women - especially Nurrissam Ismailova. She came here almost 25 years ago with a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. In recent years, she rebuilt the Uighur women's association Arzu and is on the board of the World Uyghur Congress. It is important to her to pass on her culture. The Uyghur children in Munich should know where they come from. Meanwhile, at the weekends, a Uyghur kindergarten and a school have opened and interest in dance groups is growing.