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Short Story: "Declaration Against the West" by Perhat Tursun

Updated: Feb 2

In this satirical piece, Perhat Tursun takes a stab at Western and Eastern societies through a grandiose declaration. Translated by Ajinur Setiwaldi.

Tursun was detained in 2018 by Chinese authorities and reportedly sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. Read the original version.


Declaration Against the West

By Perhat Tursun

I’ve been against the West since my childhood. Scenes of American imperialists killing innocent civilians in North Korean films would bring tears to my eyes. I’d contemplate on how to rid the earth of these American imperialists, who killed innocent civilians wherever they went.

Even when I was stumbling on the edges of the field under the weight of the sack of manure on my small shoulders, when I was throwing stale cornbread in the muddy water where the creek slightly bent, patiently waiting for it soften despite my stomach’s growling, I didn’t forget about the Western imperialists. I thought about destroying them one by one and liberating the millions of starving children in England, France and America so they too could sit and soak their stale cornbread in the creek.

I would imagine the people in New York not riding upon donkeys like we did but on the backs of hungry children. I imagined it as a hell for children. Later, when I grew up, I realized the place was hell not only for children but also for adults. According to someone named Sartre, people there are condemned to be free. How horrifying! 

Evidently, our great leader Mao Zedong's essay "Combat Liberalism" hadn't reached them yet. Comrade Adil Tuniyaz's[1] writings on how harmful freedom is for mankind hadn't reached them either. They hadn't even heard the Ablet Abdureshit Berqi[2] quote, "When I hear people say 'freedom,' I want to punch them in the face."

Now this is cultural dictatorship! The Western government must have banned the publication of the works of our great leader Mao Zedong, Adil Tuniyaz, and Ablet Abdureshit Berqi because the American government knows that they wrote these declarations with the aim of burying America and the West and establishing an order without freedom. If their books had been published in America, the people there would have surely overthrown the government that imposes freedom, satisfying their desire for slavery, and establishing a regime that would fulfill their dreams. Alas!

Due to my opposition to the West, I was drawn to the East from an early age. Even when walking, I headed east, never west. Following that path, I reached Beijing at the age of 15. But someone warned me from going further.

"That’s enough! The earth is round; if you continue walking, you’ll end up in the West."

I swear to God I have never crossed over to the western side of Beijing. Throughout my years in Beijing, I haven't even been to Tianjin. I heard there is a sea and the Pacific Ocean on that side of Tianjin, and beyond that lies America. Had I erred and continued walking, I would have gone astray and ended up in America.

In 1989, my uncle, who lives in the former Soviet Union, was going to send me a visa and show me around because he favored me the most among all of his relatives' children. However, I didn’t go because Almaty, where he lives, is on the west side. 

In 1996, a fellow from my neighborhood visited Germany. I didn't know then, but apparently, he has a tendency to get goosebumps when he sees women's bodies. He saw naked women walking on the beach in Germany and just about lost his mind in anger. He poured his heart out to me for two hours. 

Perhaps he still hasn’t recovered from the incident of seeing the naked bodies of those women because when he hears the word "west," he falls over. I had picked up the Beijinger habit of referring to a place based on its side. Last year, while eating at a restaurant near his home, I remembered him and called to invite him to join me. He asked which restaurant I was in and didn’t recognize it when I gave him the name. I guess he doesn't bother to read signage because he believes it takes brains to read. He doesn't read anything in written form, so I had to tell him the restaurant was on the west side of his house.

So I waited, but he didn’t show. I waited longer, but still, he didn't appear. Later, I learned that when he heard me say the word “west,” he fell ill. It might have been okay if anyone else had said it, but an anti-West man like me uttering the word was too much for him. When I went to his house, he was lying face down near the doorway.

“Oh God! If someone like Perhat Tursun, a man completely and unwaveringly against the West, becomes pro-West, then surely the world has ended?” he said and cried out. “It’s the end, the end, it's all ended.”

I came inside and tried to explain, but he wouldn’t listen.

“If you, a person from Beijing, says something like that, what can others say? We’re enemies now, I say! Ugh, you lackey of the West! Get out of my sight.” He vowed repeatedly to stand against westernization and ethnic separatism until his last breath.

I realized I had made a mistake. By uttering the word “west,” I had reminded him of those naked women at the beach. When I first heard him say women in the West walk around naked, I thought it was because they were poor and didn’t have clothes. According to him that wasn’t the case. They were rich and had cars and villas, he said. What angered him more than their nakedness was their wealth, as he believed their affluent lifestyle had driven them to moral corruption. He’d often yell that comfortable living is shameful. I had forgotten this and made him sick by uttering the word that day. I never spoke that word after that.

I couldn’t understand why Westerners would walk around naked when they were rich. He explained it to me, saying the government forces them to walk around naked. Then the government uses the money saved from hundreds of millions of people not wearing clothes to develop nuclear weapons to destroy us Easterners. So, the women there walk around naked to destroy us. I never thought nudity was murder before.

Later, when I went to eat with a group of fellows at the Red Rose Restaurant in Beijing, there was a Uyghur girl belly dancing, swinging her waist and butt. Unable to resist her beauty, one of the guys said, “Damn, what a killer, that troublemaker.” I began to believe then that more than procreation, women’s nakedness signals murder.

The fellows who invited me to the restaurant were artists, so I expressed my interest in talking with the naked dancers.

“Why do you want to talk to them?” they asked.

“I’d like to ask why they took off their clothes,” I said.

“It’s an influence of Western culture.” The fellows around me complained together and we cursed the West for a while.

Later, I had a chance to talk to those girls.

“Do you know Socrates?” I asked. 

In order to comprehend which aspects of Western culture had influenced them, I had to ask about the philosophers who laid the foundations and served as the roots of Western culture.

“Which country’s wine is that?” she responded with a question.

Socrates is indeed a figure like wine, so I thought her question was some kind of metaphor.

“Ancient Greece,” I responded.

“The longer the wine is stored, the more expensive it is,” she said. “I haven’t had it yet, but I’d like a taste.”

“What about Plato and Aristotle?” I asked.

"Are they also wines or some other kind of drink?"

“They are the ones who made you dance naked.”

She vehemently rejected my suggestion, “They aren’t the ones who make me dance. It’s the restaurant owner.”

After the girl left, we got into a debate.

“Which country’s dance was she performing?”

“Arab dance.” 

“The Arabs are now fighting at the front line against the West. When Arabs are the polar opposites of the West, how can such naked dancing be Arabic? Didn’t you say earlier that it was an influence of the West? Well, is it Arab or Western? In his famous work "Orientalism,” Edward Said refers to Europe as the West, while he refers to the Arabs as the East. Now you’ve turned it upside down,” I said.

They explained very eloquently:

Life is more precious than everything,

More precious than life is love.

But both I would sacrifice,

Only for liberty. [3]

That’s a typical Western poem. Western thought. Western approach. And the product of Western values. But we don't praise life, but heroism and fearlessness about death. Why have we been praising Dong Cunrui[4] for so many years? Because he loved exploding more than life. Our leader Mao Zedong’s saying “some men’s deaths are greater than the Tian Shan mountains” reminded us right on time that death and killing are more valuable than life. 

But the Westerners don’t have such leaders! So they value living like a worm instead of heroism and exploding. That’s why that poem is full of poison. It’s an extremely rotten idea to encourage people to love life. A man who loves life has a desire to live forever and to never die. Humans cannot avoid death forever so they procreate to fulfill their illusion of immortality. Love of life is actually another form of the desire to procreate. To procreate means to have sex. So that’s why he put aside the shame and revealed his objective with the line “more precious than life is love.”

This kind of work promoting depravity and lewdness will lead to the ruin of humanity. And what of his line “both I would sacrifice only for liberty?” That scoundrel. Haven’t freedom and liberty brought humanity enough destruction?

Westerners haven’t had great and noble leaders to follow like us. They don’t know the pleasure of worshiping leaders, leaving it to their righteous leadership, not troubling themselves with anything, not having to think at all, and just living contently. That’s why their history doesn’t have great poems like ours.

If the sea and ocean were ink,

The trees and forests pens,

And the entire sky paper,

Your never-ending glory, oh leader,

Would be written nonstop. [5]

Now, this conveys Eastern tradition, the result of pure Eastern thought. 

We didn’t use our brains for anything then. There was no need to use our brains for anything. We Easterners have a sacred tradition of viewing thinking as the heaviest of labors. We were liberated from that heavy intellectual labor. How to work? How to live? How to walk? And how to stand? Why would we need to use our brains when the documents that keep coming from officials tell us all? We were as content as babies. Westerners don’t have saviors like ours who are like fishermen saving fish from drowning! That’s why they exert their brains on complicated matters and live in confusion.


[1] Adil Tuniyaz, a prominent Uyghur poet, was detained in 2017 and is currently in prison; his wife and father-in-law were also imprisoned around the same time.

[2] Dr. Ablet Abdureshid Berqi, a professor at Xinjiang Teacher's College and a poet, was detained soon after returning from his studies abroad and is currently in prison.

[3] A poem by the Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi, popular in China, was included in the curriculum of both Chinese and Uyghur textbooks.

[4] Dong Cunrui was a Chinese soldier and national hero known for sacrificing his life by detonating explosives to destroy an enemy bunker during the Chinese Civil War in 1948. He has been praised and commemorated at schools and in society as heroic symbol by the Chinese government since then.

[5] This is a poem written by the prominent Uyghur poet Teyipjan Eliyov during the Cultural Revolution to praise Mao Zedong.

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