Olympic Games, Marginalized Community, and Curling Games. (Part Two)

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April 27th, 2021

Courtesy of the Omaha Sports Commission

OMAHA – Due to the pandemic, lots of people haven’t been able to see their family members for the past year. It’s been a difficult, emotional time for everyone. 

Now, imagine not being able to see your loved one for more than four years. Imagine not knowing where they are, if they’re even alive.

This is the case for many family members with loved ones being held in China’s “re-education camps.” Akeda Pulati is one of those people.

“December 12, 2017.”

That was the last time Pulati heard from her mother. The last time she saw her in person was 2016.

Her mother’s name is Rahile Dawut, and she is one of several Uyghur scholars who have been imprisoned by the Chinese government over the past several years.

Dawut is the founder and Director of the Centre for Anthropology and folklore at Xinjiang University. She is credited for being a leader in the cultural heritage protection of the Uyghur people. 

When her mother first went missing, Pulati tried not to assume things. She thought maybe her mom had been in an accident or something had come up to stop her from communicating with her. 

After she began to suspect her mother had been taken, Pulati was hesitant to take action.

“I am so naive and I didn’t read too much news, just really just being brainwashed like other Chinese kids, so I didn’t get…I didn’t realize the atrocity of this government,” Pulati said. “So at first I thought “Maybe there is a hope for my mother to be released after several months.”

She had heard stories of other detainees being released after a few months in the camps. She continued to stay quiet, worried that speaking out might bring more harm to her mother. Eventually, she realized she couldn’t just stay quiet any longer.

“There will be a point in your life where you’ll realize that if you don’t speak up, you will regret it for the rest of your life,” Pulati said.

So Pulati became an activist. She reached out to human rights organizations and began telling everyone she could about her mother’s situation. She started a website called “freemymom.org,” telling her mother’s story and providing advocacy options. 

Pulati encourages people to do more research on what’s happening in Xinjiang. While knowledge about the Uyghurs was sparse a few years ago, today it’s becoming easier to learn about the persecution they are facing and ways to help them.

She says that whether you’re signing a petition, donating to a relief fund or boycotting the Olympic curling trials here in Omaha,

“For me, there is no small action or big action, to be honest,” Pulati said. “This is what I think right now: you don’t know which actions will bring good effects or bad effects or big effects or small effects. I just try everything I can.”

To learn more about Rahile’s case, you can visit freemymom.org. You can find that link as well as links to petitions and donation sites at KVNO.com.

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