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In LA, Uyghurs Joined By Other Diaspora Communities In Calling Out China

Uyghurs joined Hong Kongers and activists from other diaspora communities fighting Chinese repression. (Josie Huang/LAist)
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Her voice vibrating with emotion as she held a microphone, Nurnisa Kurban stood on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, gazing at the crowd of about 150 people who had gathered around her by nightfall Thursday. There were immigrants from Taiwan, Tibet, Mongolia and Hong Kong.

And there was her own community of Uyghurs, some waving sky blue flags with a star and moon representing East Turkistan, their name for their home.

"I'm very excited and empowered that we all came together," Kurban said from a folding table operating as a stand. "We have the same goal: to resist Chinese government and demand social justice for our people."

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With more than 1 million Uyghurs detained in concentration camps in the Chinese territory of Xinjiang, Kurban said her people's plight had grown more urgent and needed championing by others fighting repression by China's Communist Party.

The group stood in full view of the Chinese consulate across the street, which had closed for the day and was devoid of activity save for about 10 uniformed LAPD officers monitoring the unity event. No one in the consulate's press affairs office was responding to phone calls earlier in the day.

The pandemic prevented earlier protests by the group, but the coalition of activists made sure to meet up by the Chinese consulate, located in Koreatown, because Thursday was China's National Day, when the country celebrates the founding of the People's Republic of China.

"We believe that a regime that has total disregard for human rights, freedom, and violations of so many things should not be celebrated," said Gabriel Law, a member of the Hong Kong Forum-Los Angeles, a pro-democracy group.

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For Law, China's treatment of Uyghurs forebodes a frightening future for Hong Kong, which falls under Chinese sovereignty while operating its own government.

Yifei Liu stars as Mulan in Disney's live-action adaptation of its animated classic. (Disney)

But China has moved to tighten its grip over the territory and tried to quash the pro-democracy movement.

Uyghurs and Hong Kongers have forged a bond that has jumped the ocean to the United States, where the different communities speak out for one another and join common efforts, like the boycott of the Disney release "Mulan." It was seen as doubly offensive, in part because the blockbuster's star has publicly sided with the Hong Kong police cracking down on protesters.

The production was also filmed in Xinjiang, without any acknowledgement of the concentration camps located in the territory.

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At Thursday's event, the largest contingent was from Hong Kong, wearing the familiar black and yellow colors that have become protesters' hallmark colors.

The Hong Kongers played one of their protest movement's most beloved anthems "Do You Hear The People Sing" from the musical Les Miserables, as they brandished yellow umbrellas which have become the symbols of Hong Kong resistance.