How the “Happiest Muslims in the World” are Coping with Their Happiness

Gene Bunin:

For many, the situation in Xinjiang is an elephant masquerading as a mouse, whose presence is tacitly acknowledged but whose identity is frequently obscured. When talking about it becomes inevitable – for example, when someone unwittingly asks about a person who’s been sent to Xinjiang, to camp, or to jail – it is standard to use euphemisms.

The most common by far is the word yoq, which here may be translated as “gone” or “not around”. The phrase adem yoq (“everybody’s gone”) is probably the one I’ve heard the most this past year, and has been used to describe the absence of staff, clients, and people in general. To refer to people who have been forced to return to their hometowns (for hometown arrest, camp, or worse), it is typical to say that they “went back home” – more specifically, people in inner China might say that they “went back to Xinjiang”, while people in northern Xinjiang might say that they “went back to Kashgar”.