Abduweli Ayup

Abduweli Ayup is a writer and linguist specializing in Uyghur language education. He has published fifteen books, including nine textbooks for children. His memoir from jail, The Black Land, is published in Turkish and Uyghur, and the English-language version will be published by Selkie Publications CIC in October 2023.

Ayup was born in 1973 near Kashgar in the Uyghur region. He holds degrees from Minzu University, Xinjiang University, and the University of Kansas in Lawrence where he earned a master’s degree in linguistics in 2011.

Upon returning to Xinjiang in 2011, Ayup opened language schools and kindergartens in Ürumchi and Kashgar, for which he was subjected to repeated interrogations and harassment by the Chinese authorities. In August 2013, he was arrested and accused of promoting separatist activity. After fifteen months in detention, he fled to Turkey from China with his family. In Turkey, he collected camp detainees’ stories and documented the plight of the Uyghur diaspora. He translated the information, leaked lists, and other evidence about the Uyghur crisis into English and presented them to researchers, journalists, and human rights organizations.

Since 2019, Ayup has lived in Bergen, Norway, as a writer-in-residence through ICORN (International Cities of Refuge Network). In September 2016, he founded Uyghur Hjelp, which documents stories of Uyghurs and provides aid to Uyghurs in Turkey.