August 13, 2016
This morning I stumbled upon a large collection of photographs capturing a variety of events from Xinjiang during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), and decided to make a quick follow-up to a post I made a few months back on Images of Xinjiang and the Cultural Revolution. They appear to come from a variety of sources, though mostly from a 2014 photo essay by a Xinjiang-based website named Yaxin. The piece from Yaxin, entitled “Xinjiang History: The People’s Militia of the Tarim Basin”, also features some brief comments on the wider context of the time, which I have also included below.
I would just like to add a very brief note regarding the reception of these pictures on Weibo. I noticed a number of netizens expressing a sense of nostalgia for what they perceive to have been a time of ethnic harmony and unity. Now, they wrote, with the arrival of “religious extremism” in Xinjiang, no one would dare share weapons of the sort pictured below with Uyghur people. One comment, which garnered over 40 ‘likes’ had a very different take and is worth translating in full:
“When many old Uyghur people come to Beijing, once they get to Tiananmen and see the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, they begin to cry. They tell children about the past and how good Mao was at that time. Later, when they go to sort out accommodation for the night, people take one look at their ID card (身份证), see they are from Xinjiang, and refuse to let them stay. In the whole of Beijing, they can find nowhere to stay. Sigh.”
1. Yasheng•Kuerban, captain of Laohutai army forces assigning tasks to the militia
2. The bold and brave women of the militia