Ablimet Baqi near the Tomb in Kashgar, China

When I arrived in Kashgar, China on or about February 1, 1985, the city had just been declared open to foreigners. There were no foreigners in the town when I arrived. I knew that because all foreigners were required to stay in the same hotel together. This was the Shin Binguan or "New Hotel". I was the only guest, other than some Chinese government officials. This expansive hotel was empty except for me.

Unlike any other place in China, I could find absolutely nobody in Kashgar who could speak any English at all. Finally, I went to the English Department of the University of Kashgar. I found just one English Professor there who could speak English. His name was Ablimet Baqi. He became my unofficial tour guide. I took this and many other pictures of him. When I returned to America, I wrote letters to him care of the University of Kashgar. He never answered.
Ablimet Baqi sitting in front of graves at the Tomb of Apak Hoja near Kashgar, China

This was in 1985. Eleven years later, I thought that Ablimet had made the news. Here is a press release dated November 11, 1996. Note that the word "damollah" means "teacher" in the Uyghur language. I was absolutely certain that this was the same Ablimet. Please note that the fate and current whereabouts of Ablimet is not clear from this article. However, I later learned from his cousin who recently arrived in America that this is not the Ablimet I know but another Ablimet.

"By Rabiyem Yakub, Bishkek.

"The Uyghur School in Kashgar Is Shut Down by the Chinese Authorities.

"On November 12 at 7:00 AM, a Chinese police squad burst into the Languages Institute in Kashgar and requested from teachers and students to leave the building. The policemen were very rude both to children and adults. The police squad had a camera man who was shooting everything on video tape, especially those who were most reluctant and indignant. Apparently, the authorities planned to use the video recordings later as material evidence against some people in the Institute in possible criminal trials with charges of obstruction to the authorities. This was a tool to intimidate the teachers and students.

"The Institute is still shut down by the authorities and more than one thousand students, mostly children, are deprived of their rights to attend the school, and the teachers are not allowed to resume their work.

"The Languages Institute was established in Kashgar in 1986 by an initiative of Mr. Ablimet Damollah, who held a position of a director of the Institute until the authorities shut the school down. The local Uyghur people respect Mr. Ablimet for his excellent teaching abilities, overall high intelligence level and knowledge of several foreign languages.

"The school was sponsored by several Uyghur businessmen and had no state funding. It had more than 20 classes (groups) and was educating children and young people in specialties of interpreting (overall six languages) and medical nurses. The institute had a medical clinic and a dormitory.

"The students at the Institute are of ages from 12 to 22, 80% of all students are female. All students are the Uyghurs from Kashgar, Khotan, and many villages and towns around those cities. All teachers of the school are the Uyghurs, as well."

[End of Press Release]

Ablimet is a Uyghur. For more about Ablimet and the Uyghurs, see: Uighur Home Page and A Typical Uyghur Girl

For more about the tomb where this photo was taken, see: Tomb of Apak Hoja. For a tomb in the tomb where this photo was taken, see: Tomb of the Famous Princess.

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