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The ball is in Iran’s court on talks, senior U.S. energy official says

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A senior State Department official on Tuesday said current tensions between the U.S. and Iran are entirely within Iran’s power to fix, speaking at a panel event on energy and geopolitics at the annual Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (Adipec).

“The ball is in the Iranian regime’s court, as it were,” Frank Fannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Energy Resources at the State Department told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on stage. “The administration has been very clear on the conditions. They’re encouraging talks, but there are certain conditions that have to be met. Fomenting proxy wars and creating instability in the region, that is not a way to come to the negotiation table.”

The comments come as Iran steadily rolls back its commitments to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, 16 months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the multilateral agreement and imposed crippling economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed on Monday that Iran is enriching uranium at its heavily fortified underground Fordow site and speeding up enrichment generally.

The Iranians say they will undo the steps they’ve taken — steps that bring them closer to nuclear bomb-making capability — if all parties to the deal abide by it and sanctions on the country are lifted.

This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran.

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In a press conference on Tuesday, Fannon called the Iranian regime a “criminal enterprise” for its backing of regional paramilitary and terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, its testing of ballistic missiles and its support for the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.

Tehran argues it was asked by the Assad government to intervene in Syria, and describes its development of ballistic missiles as exercising its sovereign right to self-defense.

Critics of the administration argue that Trump’s policy — that of maximum pressure through sanctions — has not been conducive to rapprochement, and they question the clarity of the administration’s ultimate goal with regard to Iran. Some suspect the White House wants regime change, which U.S. officials deny, saying they’re pursuing an end to the Iranian regime’s “malign behavior.”

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in September that Iran would “never” hold talks with the U.S. at any level, and that Washington’s sanctioning of the country’s leaders closed the door on any chance at diplomacy.

One former senior Obama administration official, who did not want to be named, told CNBC during the Abu Dhabi conference that a negotiated deal with the Iranians was entirely possible and in Tehran’s interest, but that the Iranians had to be able to do it “without looking like Trump’s bitch.” Iranians and country analysts often note the country’s strong sense of pride, casting doubt on any notion that the regime’s leaders would be willing to come to the table from a position of weakness.

An Iranian woman and her son walk past Shahab-2 (L) and Shahab-3 missiles on display in front of a large portrait of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a square in south Tehran.

Atta Kenare | AFP | Getty Images

The past several months have seen attacks on six commercial tankers in the Persian Gulf, the shooting down of an American drone, seizures of oil tankers and a major attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, all of which Washington has blamed on the Iranians. Tehran denies the attack charges, while defending the tanker seizures which they say resulted from maritime violations by the tankers in question. The tankers have since been released.

Reports show that the maximum pressure policy has slashed the Iranian government’s revenue and weakened its ability to fund Hezbollah, the Lebanese political and militant group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization which is active in conflict zones around the region.

Fannon highlighted the fact that U.S. sanctions have wiped two million barrels per day of Iranian oil production off the market. Inflation in Iran is around 50%, its currency has spiraled and unemployment is high. The International Monetary Fund expects Iran’s economy to contract by 9.5% this year. 

Still, many regional experts don’t see any signs of change in the regime’s behavior itself, its intervention in regional conflicts or its weapons development. It remains militarily engaged in Syria, continues to test ballistic missiles, and its leaders have expressed their intent to continue enriching uranium and breaching elements of the nuclear deal until the U.S. makes the first concession on sanctions.



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South Korea says North’s recent test was of rocket engine

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s defense minister said Tuesday that North Korea’s recent unspecified test at a rocket liftoff site was of a rocket engine, amid speculation the North was making preliminary steps toward a prohibited long-range rocket launch.

Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said during a visit to Sydney that Seoul expressed its “deep concerns” over the engine test and North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches into the sea, according to his office in Seoul.

It was the first official outside assessment of what North Korea called “a very important test” at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch site. The North’s Academy of National Defense Science said Sunday the test will have “an important effect on changing the strategic position” of North Korea.

Jeong didn’t elaborate on what the engine test was for but urged North Korea to stop “acts that escalate military tensions.”

Many experts say the reported test indicates North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite-carrying rocket in a disguised test of long-range missile technology amid faltering U.S.-led diplomacy on ending the North Korean nuclear crisis.

The diplomacy has been stalemated for months, with North Korea pressing the United States to make concessions by year’s end. North Korea has hinted at abandoning diplomacy and resuming nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, if the U.S. fails to meet that deadline.

Experts say North Korea will likely opt for a satellite liftoff, instead of an ICBM launch, because it can repeat its argument that it has a sovereign right to a peaceful space development and draw support from China and Russia. Also, President Donald Trump has touted the North’s moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests as his major foreign policy achievement.

In past months, North Korea launched a slew of short-range missiles and other weapons off its east coast into the sea. South Korea and parts of Japan would be within the range of those weapons, which don’t pose a direct threat to the mainland U.S.

Analysts say ballistic missiles and rockets used in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology. They say each of the North’s past satellite launches was believed to have improved its missile technology.



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Facing Criticism Over Muslim Camps, China Says: What’s the Problem?

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michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is “The Daily.”

For the past year, my colleague Paul Mozur has been investigating the story of a son determined to free his mother from a repressive system of detention and surveillance in western China. Today, we hear from the mother herself for the first time.

It’s Monday, December 9.

So, Paul, we have been checking in with you about your reporting on the Uighurs in China for about a year, and we’ve been talking to you about one family in particular. Remind us who Ferkat Jawdat is and what we know about his family.

paul mozur

So Ferkat Jawdat is from a Uighur family who live in western China, in a place called Xinjiang. And the Uighurs are a Muslim minority that the Chinese government views as a threat, in part because of their Islam. They see them as an extremist presence in the country, and they have built this extensive system of repression that includes electronic surveillance and also a massive system of camps, where more than a million people have been locked up. Many have fled the country to other places, like the United States. Ferkat is one of those, and Ferkat has kind of emerged as an important voice in the United States, trying to raise awareness and talk about what happened, because he and his family got out around 2011. But his mother was not able to follow them, and about two years ago, Ferkat’s mother goes missing. And it turns out she falls into the system of repression, and is pulled into the re-education camps there.

michael barbaro

Hmm.

paul mozur

And it’s been quite a ride, because when we first talked to him, he had no idea where his mother was, and he hadn’t seen her for more than a year. And then after we talked to him, we put out a show earlier this year, and a week later, his mother all of a sudden appears.

michael barbaro

Right, I remember.

paul mozur

Then he’s able to talk to her for the first time in more than a year and a half. He can talk to her over the phone.

michael barbaro

Right, I remember after we published that first episode about Ferkat’s mother, the Chinese government made a show of releasing her from the camp and letting her go to her house. But really, she’s not actually free.

paul mozur

Right, so she’s in her house, but she’s being monitored at all times. There’s cameras and checkpoints just outside. You have local government officials and police checking in on her on a daily basis when she talks to her family. They’re monitoring what she says, so she has to parrot this sort of propaganda. And meanwhile, her health deteriorated severely in the camps. When she came home, Ferkat actually thought she might be on her deathbed. So that’s the world she’s living in at this moment.

[phone ringing]
ferkat jawdat

Hello?

paul mozur

Hey, Ferkat. It’s Paul calling. How you doing?

ferkat jawdat

Good.

paul mozur

Now O.K.?

ferkat jawdat

Yes, give me a couple minutes. Let me find a quieter place.

paul mozur

O.K., sure.

paul mozur

And I called him again last week, because I wanted to talk to him about a decision he made to do something extremely risky in order to save his mother.

paul mozur

So yeah, how are you holding up? I know it was kind of a hard, hard week last week.

ferkat jawdat

Yeah, too many things happened, but still here.

paul mozur

Over the last few months, Ferkat’s been growing increasingly anxious about how his mother is doing.

ferkat jawdat

Even though I can talk to my mom almost every single day right now, I don’t know if I was able to get any news about my mom’s condition.

paul mozur

They talk on the phone nearly every day, but it’s clear that she’s not being honest with him, and he can’t really be fully honest with her.

ferkat jawdat

Many of us, we have that worry that — scared that we might hear that our mom passed away.

paul mozur

He doesn’t really know how she actually is. He doesn’t know her state of mind. He doesn’t know how bad her health is. And I think most importantly, he doesn’t understand what happened to her, because there’s just no ability to speak honestly about the past couple of years.

ferkat jawdat

I really want to know what really happened, because seeing that people are being tortured, it made me think that my mom is facing those kinds of situations.

paul mozur

And so I was talking to him, and he asked if I could go try to see her, see how she is, and also potentially find out what happened to her.

michael barbaro

So he wants you to go there and physically check in on her?

paul mozur

Yeah, exactly. And what’s important to understand is that we have some stories from people who were in the camps, but very few people who have gotten out recently have been able to talk about it. So this is also a chance to really shine light on what’s happened in the past few years from somebody who was inside. But there’s real risk. It’s really important to understand that by me going there, I put his family under risk. I put him under risk.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm.

paul mozur

Just for me to show up at that door and knock is incredibly dangerous.

michael barbaro

So with all that in mind, what do you decide to do?

paul mozur

So I told him it would be really, really hard, but I would try to get there and see her. And because it would be so dangerous, Ferkat had to tell his mother. And he can’t just tell her over the phone directly, like, hey, The New York Times is coming, right?

michael barbaro

Right.

paul mozur

I mean, that would set off alarm bells like crazy. So what he does is very clever. He’s on a video call with her.

ferkat jawdat

I wrote on a white piece of paper saying that, mom, I’m sending someone to you to talk to you. And then she looked at the paper I was holding, and then the next second, she just put her finger on her mouth, like —

paul mozur

And she puts her finger up to her lips, kind of to shush him, as if, like, yeah I got it.

ferkat jawdat

And then she understood, and then she agreed.

paul mozur

And shakes her head that it’s O.K., and then he takes the sign away.

michael barbaro

So she now knows you’re on your way.

paul mozur

Yes.

michael barbaro

And Paul, you’ve told me several times just how hard it is to go to this part of western China, where the Uighurs are. So how likely is it that you could actually get to Ferkat’s mom?

paul mozur

A real part of me thought it was almost pointless. I felt like I was kind of going to get her into trouble, and do it without accomplishing anything. Because you have to understand, the moment you land in a city in Xinjiang, they check the flight manifests. So they know — if a foreign journalist’s name is on there, they meet you at the airport. They meet you at the baggage claim.

michael barbaro

Right.

paul mozur

And if they don’t do that, the moment you get in a cab, they have three cars following you away from the airport to see whatever you’re doing. And I’ve never had that not be the case in Xinjiang, in multiple trips there.

michael barbaro

Sheesh.

paul mozur

So given all that, no, I’m not thinking that it’s going to be possible to get there without being noticed and just stride right into the house of somebody who is under close surveillance. But I also thought it was worth a try, because he was so desperate that we had to try.

michael barbaro

So how do you plan to get around the authorities in this case?

paul mozur

So the longer you deal with this, the more you develop your own little tricks. I take the earliest flight possible, buy it at the last minute, so that they don’t have time to screen the flight. So I arrive in Ferkat’s mom’s town around 7:00 a.m. And it’s always kind of tentative when I come out of the plane, because I’m looking around, saying, O.K., who are the thugs? Who are the guys who are going to follow me this time? And I get out, and I look around, and there’s nobody obvious. It’s dumping rain, so I go and I get an umbrella, and I’m lingering in the store, trying to see that there’s nobody. I walk across the street, and I get in a cab, and the cab goes, and I’m looking behind, and there’s no cars there.

paul mozur

O.K., yeah.

paul mozur

Somehow, I’ve gotten through the airport part without anybody picking me up.

michael barbaro

So all your tricks are working here?

paul mozur

Yeah, for the first time, since I’ve been going there, all of a sudden I’m alone.

paul mozur

O.K., and I think we’ve found it.

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

paul mozur

We pull up to the address that Ferkat gave me, the house of his grandmother.

paul mozur

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

paul mozur

And Ferkat’s aunt answers.

paul mozur

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

paul mozur

And there is his aunt, his uncle and his grandmother. And so they show me into a room.

paul mozur

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

paul mozur

And inside on a raised platform are a bunch of rugs, and there, laying prostrate, is Ferkat’s mother.

paul mozur

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

Hello.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[GROANING]

paul mozur

She’s in a lot of pain, because she’s had a fall recently. She was so weak coming out of the camps that just a few days before, she fell, and they think she fractured her vertebrae. But she insists on sitting up for the interview.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And there I am next to her, this person that Ferkat hasn’t been able to see in a decade.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And I can see her face, and she looks a lot like Ferkat. They have the same sort of cheekbones and the same eyes.

paul mozur

Assalamu alaikum.

ferkat jawdat’s aunt

[SPEAKING MANDARIN]

paul mozur

She sort of holds my hand, and she says that I have the smell of Ferkat on me, and that her son is with her, because I’m there and I’ve been sent by him. And she says thank you for coming.

And all the while, you’re thinking, how long do we have? Because you know there’s surveillance.

michael barbaro

Right.

paul mozur

You know the police are going to come and check in on her.

[phone ringing]
michael barbaro

So what do you do?

paul mozur

Hey, Ferkat.

ferkat jawdat

Hey.

paul mozur

How are you me? Let me —

paul mozur

Well, I get Ferkat on the phone, because he’s going to help me translate and talk to her.

paul mozur

And here’s your grandmother.

ferkat jawdat’s grandmother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And here’s your mo — here’s your mother.

ferkat jawdat

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And we start asking her questions.

paul mozur

Ferkat, can we now ask her and just tell her that she can speak honestly to me, and that I will protect this recording and get it out to the world, but can she talk about what’s happened over the past two years to her, and can you see if she can maybe talk about that a little bit?

ferkat jawdat

O.K., O.K. [SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And she starts telling us what happened three years ago.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

Telling the story of the camps.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

ferkat jawdat

Yes, she said that for the first time in time in 2017, October 16, she was sent to the re-education camp.

paul mozur

In the beginning, in 2017, for a little while, she was taken to a camp to study. And “study” is the euphemism for being locked away.

ferkat jawdat

And she said that the government said those camps are for the terrorists.

paul mozur

Uh-huh.

ferkat jawdat

But she never believed that she was a terrorist, and that she only knew that she was there because of her family in the U.S.

paul mozur

But she gets spit back out, because she’s quite sick.

ferkat jawdat

And then 2018, in February, she was sent back to the camp again.

paul mozur

But then in early 2018, they come for her again. And this time, she doesn’t come out.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

All of a sudden, she’s effectively in what looks like a concentration camp. And she says conditions are much, much worse there. There’s way too many people. Ten or 20 people in a cell, sometimes. Oftentimes, people will have to use buckets for toilets. She says the guards are much rougher with the people who are there. So there’s more violence.

ferkat jawdat

And then, on January 7, 2019, she was sent to the prison. The interrogation is much harder than the camps.

paul mozur

But things get even worse for her, because Ferkat is continuing to speak out about her in the United States. And it gets to the point that he becomes almost so well-known that in late 2018, he actually gets a meeting with the United States secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. And that’s a big deal. It becomes news. And partially because of that, she’s punished. And that means she gets sent to a much more extreme facility. It’s either a prison or a detention center. And there, she says, she was interrogated and tortured, and the guards were extremely rough with her. And we’ve heard reports from other people in these facilities, and they are much, much harsher than other types of camps.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

During questioning, people can be locked to chairs or chained to walls. And there’s even darker stories of women being sexually assaulted or raped, ghastly stories of isolation chambers, people’s fingernails ripped out. And there are also reports of forced injections. People report that they emerge from the camp system sterile. So there’ve been accusations that potentially there’s forced sterilizations going on as well.

ferkat jawdat

During those three months, she was out of her medicines.

paul mozur

And in particular, very important for her, she’s no longer allowed her medications. So she starts having a lot of health problems. The blood pressure’s really out of control. Her face swells. She stops to being able to talk, because her tongue is swollen.

michael barbaro

Wow.

ferkat jawdat

And then she wasn’t able to get any treatment or any medicines.

paul mozur

And nobody is trying to fix this, because this is very much a place where you’re there to be punished.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

You have to imagine how unique this moment is. She can’t fully sit up, because she’s in too much pain. So we’re lying next to each other, and I’m passing a phone back and forth with her. And she’s telling the story of what has happened to her for the first time.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

paul mozur

And halfway across the world, on the other end of the phone, is Ferkat. And what he’s hearing for the first time is the truth. He’s finally actually hearing what happened to his mother. And I’m sitting there next to her, and part of me is totally overwhelmed with emotions about this, but a part of me is absolutely terrified of what this could bring for her.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

michael barbaro

So it’s like the worse the details are that she’s telling you, the more afraid you’re becoming for her, for anyone in that room who is hearing the conversation.

paul mozur

Exactly. But all the while, it feels safe, in a way. It’s weird, because you’re inside this room and it’s a beautiful room. The doors are painted with turquoise, rich red rugs hanging from the walls. You hear the rain on the outside. It almost feels like you’re in this cocoon. And for a second, you can trick yourself into believing you’re back in history and the way things used to be, and everything was calm and pleasant and you could spend your days whiling away time on these carpets. But then —

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[GROANING]

paul mozur

I hear voices outside and —

ferkat jawdat

I think you got some company.

paul mozur

Ferkat says, I think you have some company. And I look to the front door, and there’s a curtain covering it, and it gets pulled back by a man I haven’t seen before. And then, as soon as he sees me, he disappears. And what I’m worried at that point about is that the game is up, that we’ve been caught. And so we all go into panic mode.

paul mozur

So O.K., if they’re agents, then maybe we should stop right now, yeah?

paul mozur

And I need to save these recordings, because if they’re officials, they’re going to want to delete them.

paul mozur

Yeah, why don’t you hang up? Because I need to preserve these videos as best I can, these audios. So I’m going to do that first. O.K., bye.

michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

So Paul, what happens once you turn off the recording?

paul mozur

Well, everybody’s freaked out.

paul mozur

Ferkat.

ferkat jawdat

Yes.

paul mozur

So I have some clarity, it’s two local party members who, I guess, help with old people’s homes sometimes. So the roof was leaking a little bit at your grandmother’s house, so they’ve come over to have a look. But now that they’ve seen me, we’re worried that they’re going to call the police, so —

paul mozur

The man who poked his head in, he is a local government official and Communist Party member checking up on her. And he’s ostensibly claiming that he was looking into a leaky roof because it was raining out. But in reality, he’s a part of the surveillance apparatus. And so he quickly leaves, and we know he’s probably going to go report the whole thing, and it’s just a matter of time before the police show up.

paul mozur

O.K., sure. We’ll see how long it takes him to —

ferkat jawdat

O.K., can you hand me to my mom?

paul mozur

Yeah, you have her right now. You’re in her hand.

paul mozur

And so the family is discussing what to do. They have to decide. And it really is informative about the different ways Ferkat and his family see this.

paul mozur

So I can get out of here now, if you want me to just leave. Because if I leave, maybe they won’t find me here, and they won’t know.

paul mozur

So Ferkat says, stay.

ferkat jawdat

I don’t know. Maybe you should stay to see what they’re going to do or what they’re going to say.

paul mozur

It’ll help to have a foreign journalist there. No matter what they do, it will be good for you to be there and watch and report on it. But his family thinks the exact opposite. They want me to get the hell out of there, because they think that my presence is the threat and the danger, and the longer I’m there, the more they’re in danger. And so in the last few minutes, we try to get in a last question. Can we see if your mother can answer one or two more questions? Ferkat, can you ask her, tell her that you told me that she taught you to speak out and to speak your mind and to say the truth, and then that’s what you’ve been doing in America. And I just want you to ask her whether she thinks you’ve done right by doing that, whether she believes truly that that is the right thing to do. And so I ask Ferkat’s mother what she makes of what he’s been doing.

ferkat jawdat’s mother

[SPEAKING UIGHUR]

ferkat jawdat

She said that I know that you did what a son should do to save his mother and then to get the family reunited again, and then I’m proud of you, what you did, and then I still think that you did the right thing, and I believe in you.

paul mozur

And she tells him that she’s incredibly proud of him, and that she raised him to be this way, and that she understands why he’s doing this, and that it’s out of love for her that he’s doing this.

paul mozur

How does that feel, to hear that?

ferkat jawdat

It’s awesome.

paul mozur

Hm.

ferkat jawdat

I’m scared. I think you can feel.

paul mozur

Yeah, I know.

ferkat jawdat

But I’m still — got her approval.

paul mozur

Yeah.

paul mozur

I think it’s just an incredibly important moment, because Ferkat is doing this crusade, and he doesn’t have support from many people in his community in the United States, because Uighurs there are afraid. But at this moment, she tells him, no, what you’re doing, I know that this comes from the right place, and that we’re trying something here, and I’m proud of you. But while that’s happening, the mood has changed.

paul mozur

O.K., so several different party members and local officials came. We don’t have the police yet, but her family is quite worried, so I have downloaded recordings to different places so that it will be hard for them to find them, and I’m trying to send them off, though the internet is slow here, so it won’t work. And now I’m packing up, and I am going to leave because they’ve decided that it’s better for me to go than to stay, probably. But I’m going to —

paul mozur

So I told Ferkat I had to respect their wishes, and I took off.

michael barbaro

Mm-hmm.

paul mozur

And I was trying to kind of do the formalities of leaving, and they sort of pushed me away and just said, get out. So now I’ve walked away. Luckily, it’s raining, which is helpful, because you can keep an umbrella low over your head and not draw too much attention. I’m trying to figure out if I’m being followed or not.

paul mozur

And when I walk out that door, the usual suspects are there, a couple of sketchy-looking guys who start following me down the street. And I led them around the rest of the day across the city.

And I went to the airport, got on a plane and flew out.

And then a week later, Ferkat calls me, and he tells me that —

ferkat jawdat

The Chinese government, the Chinese police got really mad because of the way I sent a reporter to talk to my mom.

paul mozur

The police in the area have told him that if he releases the recordings that we took, they will kill her.

michael barbaro

Oh my god.

ferkat jawdat

In Chinese, they say that — [SPEAKING MANDARIN] — that’s kill my mom.

paul mozur

And so Ferkat’s saying, please don’t release the recordings. I’m saying, of course.

michael barbaro

Right.

paul mozur

We won’t release them at all, if you don’t think it’s right. And over the next few weeks, there’s more negotiations, and they kind of back off that threat, and eventually he says, you know what? Let’s do this.

michael barbaro

Let’s do what?

paul mozur

Let’s release these recordings. Let’s talk about this. Let’s share it with the world.

paul mozur

And so I guess what made you say, all right, well, we should go ahead and do it?

ferkat jawdat

Because it’s really hard. So I know that that’s the way that they are scaring me, but they got me wrong. They underestimate me many times, that I’m not the person who will get scared that easily.

paul mozur

Mm-hmm.

ferkat jawdat

My mom is already on the international media. Her picture, her name is around the world. And especially after you went there to talk to my mom and if anything happens to her, I think that’s going to cause more trouble to the Chinese government than make me silent.

paul mozur

Mm-hm. But I mean, they effectively threatened to kill your mother if we continued with this project. And I guess I’m curious about how you went through the mental process to eventually go forward with all of this anyway.

ferkat jawdat

Yeah, it’s scary. But hearing that, I told my mom, like, Mom, some people are saying that they can do some bad stuff to you. And then she said, I’ve been through everything. I have seen everything. I don’t worry about anything anymore.

paul mozur

Mm-hmm.

ferkat jawdat

That’s what she said.

paul mozur

Mm-hmm.

ferkat jawdat

Because instead of being forced to see that people are suffering in front of you and then seeing girls are being raped, it’s just easier to die than live in a place in that situation.

paul mozur

Mm-hmm.

ferkat jawdat

So if you have lost everything, there is no fear anymore, I guess.

paul mozur

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

paul mozur

This is the kind of paradox of speaking out. On the one hand, you have the government saying, if you do this, we will kill your mother. But on the other hand, you know that if you don’t speak out, then maybe nothing will change, and maybe you’ll never see her again.

ferkat jawdat

There are a couple of times that I already gave up from being able to see my mom alive. So don’t get me wrong if I say this. The killing, it doesn’t really scare me anymore.

paul mozur

And Ferkat, he told me this story that I think really shows how fearless she’s become in some ways.

ferkat jawdat

So yesterday, The Global Times released the full article about my family’s —

paul mozur

He told me right after my visit, state media ran an article basically citing family members of him calling him the scum of the family.

michael barbaro

Wow.

paul mozur

And he told his mother this.

ferkat jawdat

I said, Mom, they just said that I became the scum of the family, and that you all feel shamed by my actions. And then she was like, no, that’s not the case. I didn’t tell them that.

paul mozur

And she got really upset.

ferkat jawdat

And then she said that I just couldn’t take it.

paul mozur

And she said, the next day, some party members came by my house.

ferkat jawdat

And then I got really mad with them, and then I cried to them, and I told them that why you guys have to call my son as a scum? Because he was just doing what a son should do to save his mom, because he lost me, and then he waited, hoping you guys will release me, but you guys didn’t. So he’s not the scum of the family. I’m proud of my son.

paul mozur

And I yelled at them, and I told them, how dare you say that my son is the scum of the family? And I’m incredibly proud of him. I’ve been proud of him since I gave birth to him, and he will always be my son. Don’t you dare call him that and make people think that I think that about him.

michael barbaro

That’s a pretty remarkable scene of a woman in her condition screaming at the local Chinese officials.

paul mozur

Yeah, and somebody who has just no power in comparison to them.

ferkat jawdat

I can’t imagine the courage that my mom had, that she’s able to tell them on your face that they did wrong.

paul mozur

And it just shows the power of this moment and the way each of them make the other more brave and strong.

michael barbaro

Hm.

ferkat jawdat

And then it just makes me think that like mom, like son. My mom is such a courageous person. She was able to question them on their face directly of the way that they called me a scumbag of the family.

paul mozur

And it’s just incredible to see that happening in the face of such overwhelming state power and ultimately violence towards their entire people.

ferkat jawdat

And then after all that she’d been through, from her own mouth that she’s still proud of me and that she supports what I did, and that she agrees with what I do, what I speak out? It gives me the courage. And then that’s the exact same reason that I didn’t back down.

paul mozur

Yeah. Well, Ferkat, thank you again, and good luck with your mother. And we’ll be in touch as the story continues.

ferkat jawdat

Cool. Thank you so much.

paul mozur

All right, take care.

ferkat jawdat

Bye.

paul mozur

Bye.

paul mozur

Really so much of what we know about what’s going on in Xinjiang comes from these brief moments of courage and these individuals who are willing to testify and speak out. You can’t subpoena the Chinese government. You can’t go in demanding documents. You can’t get interviews with top officials where they’re going to speak honestly. And so everything is this incredible game of investigation, and a lot of the reporting is just trying to figure out tiny trace things, whatever you can. And so we had no documentation of what was going on on the inside, until we did. The New York Times got its hands on hundreds of pages of internal Chinese government documents that really gave us the most detailed picture we could have possibly asked for for where the camp system came from, how it developed, how Beijing tried to hide it. The story is darker and more detailed and nuanced than we ever could have imagined.

michael barbaro

On tomorrow’s “Daily,” the story that emerges from those secret documents.

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today.

archived recording (chris wallace)

Let’s start with that terrible shooting in Pensacola. We know at least one of the people that the Saudi officer killed was a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Did he target Americans?

archived recording (mark esper)

Well, first of all, it’s a very tragic incident. Our condolences go out to the families.

michael barbaro

On Sunday, federal investigators said they were operating on the assumption that Friday’s deadly shooting at a U.S. military base in Florida, which was carried out by a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force, was an act of terrorism. The gunman, who was at the base as part of a U.S. training program for foreign officers, killed three Americans and injured eight others.

archived recording (mark esper)

Overall, these types of programs, exchanges are very important to our national security. The ability to bring foreign students here to train with us to understand American culture is very important to us in building those long-term relationships.

michael barbaro

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, the U.S. secretary of defense, Mark Esper, defended the training programs and said there were no plans to shut them down.

That’s it for “The Daily.” I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.



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An all American Political Circus or J Coup

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just how corrupt is the US political system today?
will the US constitution get used as democratic toilet paper?
watching this political circus is a health hazard.

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