In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative and Stop Uyghur Genocide hosted the event, “Honouring the Uyghur People Seeking Accountability Amidst the Uyghur Genocide on the 75th Anniversary of the Genocide Convention” in London on December 11.
The event, organized by Rahima Mahmut, executive director of Stop Uyghur Genocide, and Professor Stephanie Barclay, faculty director of Notre Dame Law School’s Religious Liberty Initiative, was held in the Trafalgar Hall at the University of Notre Dame’s London Global Gateway. The evening included opening remarks from Mr. Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the Uyghur Tribunal, and a conversation between Barclay and Tahir Hamut Izgil, a distinguished Uyghur poet and author of the memoir “Waiting to be Arrested at Night.” The conversation focused on Izgil’s life and memoir, which is one of the only firsthand accounts available of the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur people by the Chinese government. At the event, Izgil detailed how he dedicated his life to writing, making films, and participating in a remarkable and supportive community of Uyghur poets and intellectuals while enduring systematic repression. He also recounted the circumstances that led to his family’s flight from China in 2017 and his experience as a refugee from the genocide.
After the discussion, there was a cultural performance by the Miras Silk Road Collective, led by Mahmut. Founded in 2018, the group consists of professional Uzbek and Uyghur performers who perform classical maqam, folk songs, and instrumental pieces on traditional instruments, ranging widely across Turkish, Azeri, Iranian, Afghan, Uzbek, and especially Uyghur musical traditions. The Miras Silk Road Collective performed in collaboration with Tara Catherine Pandeya, a cultural advocate and one of the most renowned dancers and choreographers specializing in Central Asian dance.
The event also offered traditional Uyghur food and a book signing of Izgil’s memoir “Waiting to be Arrested at Night.” Copies of Izgil’s memoir were distributed at the event.
“The achievement of our desired impact for this event is evident,” Mahmut said. “Tahir's poignant conversation with Stephanie about his life in the Uyghur homeland and his memoir, ‘Waiting to be Arrested at Night,’ left a lasting impression. Many attendees expressed that the event was not only informative, but they also enjoyed the concert performed by my band, the Miras Silk Road Collective. Jessica Spivey from Penguin Random House UK remarked, ‘I initially planned to attend another event halfway, but your music was so captivating that I couldn't tear myself away.’”
Mahmut also elaborated on the importance of hosting the event in light of the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention: “For me, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention holds profound significance, especially as an Uyghur actively engaged in the fight against the Uyghur Genocide during the last six years, advocating through various campaigns and urging politicians to take decisive action,” Mahmut said. “I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Stephanie and the Notre Dame Law School for sponsoring this event, ensuring its resounding success. It is a dream come true.”
About the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative
Established in 2020, the Notre Dame Law School Religious Liberty Initiative promotes and defends religious freedom for all people through advocacy, formation, and thought leadership. The initiative protects the freedom of individuals to hold religious beliefs as well as their right to exercise and express those beliefs and to live according to them.
The Religious Liberty Initiative has represented individuals and organizations from an array of faith traditions to defend the right to religious worship, to preserve sacred lands from destruction, to promote the freedom to select religious ministers, and to prevent discrimination against religious schools and families.
Learn more about the Religious Liberty Initiative at religiousliberty.nd.edu.