How China Dismantled the Uyghur Internet

The Diplomat Logo

July 22, 2014 | The Diplomat | By Henryk Szadziewski & Greg Fay

In the early 2000s, Dilshat Perhat, a media studies student in China’s northwestern Uyghur region, launched a new kind of website called Diyarim. Describing Perhat as an innate entrepreneur, a friend said he was propelled by a keen interest in offering Uyghurs online services common on websites elsewhere in the world.

Perhat built novel technologies into Diyarim’s code as he developed MP3, video, and BBS (bulletin board system) forums. Featuring content including songs and music videos, forum debates about cultural and social issues and even re-posted clips from CNN, Diyarim attracted Uyghur students and intellectuals. The website was innovative in other ways, too; before 2004, only a handful of Uyghur websites used the Uyghur Arabic script and Diyarim was among the first. “For our generation, it felt like a new land, a new way to express yourself,” said Perhat’s friend.

Read the full op-ed here: