or many who walk through the doors of Dolan Uyghur in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the restaurant is a learning experience — through food on the tables, art on the walls, and conversations with the owner about escaping from China — about a culture and a people in the midst of persecution. For others, the restaurant is a place to feel at home again, when home in Xinjiang is out of reach.

For those who haven’t heard of Uyghur cuisine before, a glimpse of the three-year-old restaurant’s curly green signs should inspire a search of “Uyghur” online. There, people will find article upon article about the mass internment, forced labor, involuntary sterilization and death threatening 11 million people — a Turkic Muslim minority group — in the Xinjiang region of northwest China.

Colorful Uyghur hats – which indicate the wearer’s gender and home region – hang with small wooden instruments on the wall of Dolan Uyghur in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19, 2020. (Photo: Trisha Ahmed)

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