A Uyghur daughter’s letter: “Mother, I wish you happy birthday with my fight for your release”

Dear world, please help. Today should have been a special day for me, celebrating my mum’s birthday. Unfortunately, I don’t know where she is. She is probably in Chinese concentration camp, prison or detention center, just like other million of Uyghurs. I fear for her life everyday because of the secrecy surrounding her case. I love my mum, she is my idol, and I would like to write her a letter to say “Happy birthday”. Please join me in my wisher for her birthday. Or I hope you can help by sharing it and let the world know an innocent mother is suffering? Millions of Uyghur are suffering.


Dear Mom,

Today is May 20. Your 54th birthday. It is the third birthday you haven’t surrounded with the warmth of your family. I feel confused and furious all the time. I know everybody may experience some hardships, but it is extremely unfair in peacetime to be detained without giving any reason while you have dedicated all of your time into your research and never commit any crime. After having waited helplessly for you to be released with the hope that Chinese government somehow come to their sense that detaining millions of innocent people is a ridiculous thing in this day and age, now I began to realize that government and authority have gone crazy, and seeing Uyghurs as a treat and jeopardize the freedom of innocent Uyghurs.

I have been keep telling people the same story again and again: “Her name is Rahile Dawut(热依拉·达吾提). She is an amazing mother and teacher. But on December 12,2017, she disappeared. She never commit any crime, but she was detained by the authority.”


Me talking to New York Time Opinion about my mother disappearance

Every day, I am being tortured with the thought of the uncertain fate that you and other innocent Uyghurs are facing, and the outrageous behavior of the Chinese government in response to Uyghur people’s plight. You are always inspirational to the people around you and become an idol for many Uyghur females. I remember your passion for knowledge and determination to be a good scholar, and how much effort you have put in your research to finish your Ph.D. successfully. I heard lots of wonderful stories from your students that they had learned so much from you, and that they got the inspiration to pursue further in their study.

You were so busy with academics, your research and family and never had time to think about political issues. You have devoted all your time to being a good mum, a good wife and a good daughter. You said that if I become a workaholic in the future, you would help me to take care of my children. You told me many times that we should be cautious and stay away from politics because it is risky especially for an Uyghur to get involved in any political discussions. You always followed the government’s guidelines, and told everybody that we should be law-abiding citizens. Hence, I don’t understand what has caused Chinese government to think of Uyghur culture itself as a threat to its rule, which is the only reason that I can think of for detaining you ? I don’t understand what is wrong with the people who take you? What is wrong with them?

My mother at a academic symposium

You also want me to be cautious and don’t get involved in politics. Since I came to the United States in 2015, I followed your advice. I focus all my attention on my study. I have never participated in any political activities. I am looking for a day that I can finish all the learning in the United States and go back to Xinjiang and spent the rest of my life with you. We are planning on that day. You told me you were planning to move to the suburb after retirement so that you can spend all day quietly reading and writing. You also told me you are looking for a grandkid, and you are eager to help me to raise her/him. The life we choose in the path is lawful, correct, simple, and peaceful, and the life we are expecting in the future is the same. What did we do wrong to suffer from this? After having waited for so long, I feel like I have to do something about it. I understand the risk, but I already have enough for not doing anything. Now the only thing that I can think of is to speak up and give testimonies, like the one below I did for you:

My testimony video for my mother’s disappearance

Many people comfort me by saying “Your mother is a strong woman. She can endure the hardships”. But I can’t comfort myself. You are human. Humans need freedom, the warmth of the family and friends, and home. No matter how strong you are, day after day, the loss of freedom and hope will make you weak. Especially during this pandemic. What if this pandemic lowers your immune systems and this virus accidentally being found in the place you are living in. I can’t even think about that. So I need to take the risk. I need to see you coming out of that place as soon as possible.

Happy birthday, my beloved mother. I know you are worrying about me every day. But I am learning to take better care of myself, and also I made speaking up for you as my mission. I am telling myself that I need to be energetic and healthy to keep fighting for my mum’s release. You always told me to be a good person, and I never forget that.

Happy birthday, mom. I love you. Please stay safe and mentally strong. I want to send beautiful gifts for your next birthday. I want to share every beautiful thing happening in my life with you. I trust God, and that day will come. At the end of this letter, I want to share with you a quote I recently read “Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again. ”

I love you and I miss you.

Your loving daughter,

Akida Pulat

Me and my mom when I was a kid

Freemymom.org is the website for raising the awareness of my mother. Please read her story, sign the petition, and share my testimony.Thank you.