Vandals burned, defaced pride, Ukrainian flags in downtown Silver Spring Tuesday night
[The Ramadan buffet] really helped us sort of pick back up because, were still dealing with the aftereffects of COVID, Jan said. It was a little slowdown on the restaurant industry, the food industry, so right after the Ramadan buffet, we were seeing more sort of pickup in activity and people coming in and then on that Mothers Day, we were fully booked.
Dining room of Eerkins Uyghur Cuisine in Rockville.
Akira Kyles
The dcor at the new location introduces diners to Uyghur culture before the food even hits their stomachs. The bright yellow walls are adorned with colorful clothing and accessories from Uyghur culture, small brightly colored figurines, ceramics, paintings, and various instruments.
Jan said it was the support of the loyal customer base that helped revive the business just in time for the next Ramadan buffet, which the business holds during the month of Ramadan from the end of March to beginning of April.
We were extremely busy during [the reopening], which was good because for us it was like a blessing in disguise, he said. So many people were interested in our buffet option that we do for Ramadan that it sort of brought up all customers back and new customers to enjoy as well.
In alignment with Muslim faith, Jan only offers halal meat and does not serve pork or alcohol. Halal meat is meat that adheres to Islamic law, as defined by the Koran.
The eatery does sell a vast selection of teas and cultural drinks, such as homemade dough, which is a cold blended Uyghur yogurt shake with mint.
Eerkins offers a variety of hand-pulled noodle dishes, with one of most popular being Gam Bian Soman, which includes sauted vegetables and soy sauce, topped with sesame seeds, according to Jan.
Babur Ilch, 27, works as the program manager for the Uyghur Human Rights Project based out of Washington, D.C. The organization advocates for the rights of Uyghur people by publishing reports and analysis to defend Uyghurs civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights according to international human rights standards.
Ilch was born in the Uyghur homeland and his family moved to Canada when he was a toddler. To him, a communal space like Jans is important for people in his culture and beyond.
Its really nice to see that Uyghur food, which is such an important part of our culture, is kept alive and is being shared not only in the diaspora itself, but with people who live here, people who are not who are willing to take the time to appreciate the Uyghur culture through its cuisine, Ilch said.
In 2017, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights began receiving increasing allegations by various civil societies groups that members of the Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim communities were either missing or disappeared in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic of China.
According to a 2022 report from the U.N., the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination expressed alarm over numerous reports of the detention of large numbers of Uyghurs and Muslim minorities by the Chinese government.
The overall assessment of the report was that serious human rights violations have been committed in the [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] in the context of the governments application of counterterrorism and counter- extremism strategies.
Jan said its an oppressive genocide thats happening to his people in their homeland.
For us to open these restaurants is tough, for us to sort of spread the awareness because a lot of times in media, youll hear about these atrocities happening, that theyre trying to portray us as Chinese Muslims, he said. If anyone can come into our restaurant, look at the atmosphere, look at the designs, look at us as a people then theres a distinction because were not Chinese, were Turkic.