Podcast: The Uyghur genocide hits California

A protester from the Uyghur community living in Turkey waves a Turkish flag
A member of the Uyghur community living in Turkey protests against the visit of China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Turkey, in Istanbul on March 25.
(Associated Press)

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California businesses are starting to reopen, and for Bughra Arkin, owner of Dolan Uyghur Restaurant in Alhambra, keeping his restaurant open is also about saving his culture.


Arkin belongs to an ethnic Muslim minority in China known as the Uyghurs. Their homeland, Xinjiang, is roughly the size of Iran. The famous Silk Road ran through it. For a long time, the region operated under its own local governments, outside the eyes of the Chinese Communist party. But in 2009, things began to change in Xinjiang. Arkin remembers parties ending earlier and earlier. Then people started disappearing. He says young Uyghurs were forcibly taken to inland China to work in factories. The houses and farmland they left behind were seized by the Communist government, which began encouraging the majority Han Chinese to move in.

The world has increasingly decried China’s treatment of Uyghurs in recent months. Chinese officials deny any wrongdoing, but the United States and other nations around the globe have declared their actions a genocide. We speak with Arkin about his family’s experience with the Chinese government, which includes the detention and disappearance of his father. And we also talk to L.A. Times reporter Johana Bhuiyan about a company that the Chinese government has used to track Uyghurs and its efforts to expand in the United States.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: Bughra Arkin, owner of Dolan Uyghur Restaurant in Alhambra, and L.A. Times business reporter Johana Bhuiyan

More Reading:
Major camera company can sort people by race, alert police when it spots Uighurs
‘They want to erase us.’ California Uighurs fear for family members in China
Review: At Dolan’s Uyghur Cuisine, a taste of northwest China’s cultural crossroads

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producers Steven Cuevas and Denise Guerra, executive producer Abbie Fentress Swanson and editor Julia Turner. Our engineer is Mario Diaz and our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.