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moderator
30-09-05, 08:22
THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SO-CALLED XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION

China is preparing for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which the Uyghur people call East Turkistan, on October 1, 2005. But the Uyghur people living at home and abroad commemorate this date as a date of national mourning. The main reason is that the decision to set up the autonomous region rather than fulfilling the promises of self-determination made by Mao Zedong was against the wishes of the Uyghurs people.



At the Sixth Congress of The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1945, Mao Zedong announced that after CCP takeover of China, the people of East Turkistan would have the right to self-determination and the choice between full independence and establishment of a federated republic within the framework of federalism. However, as soon as CCP took over China, Mao Zedong denied the people of East Turkistan the right to self-determination, and established this so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.



Faced with this situation, the Uyghur people asked to form a federated republic within the People’s Republic of China. Mao also rejected this request calling it a “demand hostile to the history,” and claimed “that East Turkistan has always been an inalienable part of an indivisible China, even before it was liberated; therefore there would be no sense in dividing China into federated republics.”



When it became apparent that Mao was taking a hard line on the possible republic status, the Uyghur people demanded that the name “Xinjiang” given by the Manchu rulers of Qing Dynasty be changed to the historical name of “East Turkistan.” Mao also rejected this request and decided instead to form an autonomous region for all the people living in the area.



The draft program for the introduction of regional autonomy for non-Chinese peoples in East Turkistan was formulated at the Second Enlarged Session of the Nationalities Affairs Commission in December 1951 and finally ratified by the Central Government Council of August 8, 1952. It forsaw three types of autonomous units; a unit inhabited by a single national minority; a unit with one large majority and several local minority units, having sub-autonomous status; and a unit with several minorities, none of which was in the majority.



In Februrary 1955 a special committee was created by CCP to prepare for regional autonomy in East Turkistan, and in August the provincial government adopted a resolution calling for such regional autonomy. The First East Turkistan Provincial People’s Congress approved the resolution in September 1955 and dispatched it to Beijing, where the State Council and the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress approved it on September 13, 1955. As a result, the so-called Xinjiang Wei Wu Er Zi Zi Chu, or the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, came into being on October 1, 1955.



With the creation of the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the Chinese political oppression, cultural assimilation, economic exploitation, ecological destruction, racial discrimination, arbitrary arrests, torture and execution policies in East Turkistan also intensified. The following is the brief legacy of Chinese communist authorities between 1949- 1979:



- By promising equality, CCP divided the indigenous peoples of East Turkistan such as the Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars, Salars etc. who are bound together by a common history, common language, and common culture into autonomous “prefectures,” and “counties.”



- Under the pretext of “Socio-economic Reform,” in 1959, CCP drove 96.9 per cent of Uyghurs were driven into 30,000 communes, and destroyed their traditional family bonds and way of life. (Xinjiang Ribao, November 25, 1959)



- Under the pretext of “Land Reform,” CCP confiscated all private land, property and animals of the Uyghur people.



- Under the pretext of “Cultural Reform,” CCP eliminated the traditional Arabic script, which the Uyghurs were using for almost one thousand years, and instead Latin alphabet was adopted to suite the Chinese phonology.



- Under the pretext of “Remnants of the Past”, only in the city of Urumchi 370,000 books written in the Arabic script were destroyed. (Sotsiyalistik Kazakhstan, January 14, 1978)



- Under the pretext of “Unification of National Education,” CCP banned teaching Uyghur history, culture and civilization, and forced Uyghur children to transfer to schools where only Marxism, Leninism and Maoism were taught.



- Under the pretext of “Attendance of Prayers Hinder Production,” CCP prohibited the Muslims from fulfilling their religious duties. As a result, more than 29,000 mosques were closed, 54,000 imams were arrested, tortured or used for forced labor. (Sotsiyalistik Kazakhstan, January 14, 1978)



- Between 1950 and 1972, CCP executed 360,000 Uyghurs, accused as “counter revolutionaries,” drove nearly 500,000 into hard-labor camps for “re-education,” and almost forced 200,000 to flee to neighboring countries. ( Kommunizim Tughi, March 14, 1974; Chen Shu Peng, The Chinese Commiunist System of reform Through Labor, Taiwan, April 1978)



- In an effort to transform East Turkistan completely into a Chinese colony, CCP transferred and settled millions of Chinese migrants.



Although China’s founder Mao Zedong died three decades ago, but China’s strategic, political and economic objectives in East Turkistan have remained unchanged. The present Chinese leaders are continuing the same policy to transform East Turkistan completely into a Chinese colony, culturally assimilate the Uyghur people, and economically exploit their natural resources.



- Today, the local economy only favors the Chinese settlers in East Turkistan. The average income of a Chinese settler in East Turkistan is 3.6 percent higher than that of an Uyghur. The Chinese settlers in East Turkistan have monopolized not only official ranks of authority and influence, but positions in almost all walks of the life. That is why there is high ratio of unemployment among the Uyghur people in East Turkistan.



- To restrain the growth of the Uyghur population, CCP carried out coercive birth control among Uyghur women, under the pretext of “ensuring a steady growth in the minority population,” “improving the quality of the population,” and “eliminating economic inequalities.” How can “economic inequalities” as claimed by the Chinese authorities be eliminated if coercive birth control is practiced among Uyghur women on the one hand and hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants are encouraged to settle in East Turkistan every year? Furthermore, the Chinese settlers are allowed to have more children in East Turkistan. It is clear that the aim of such a policy is to expand the Chinese population in East Turkistan in every way and dilute the Uyghur population.



- In order to sinosize the Uyghurs literary language, CCP carried out a fierce campaign. Until the Chinese occupation of East Turkistan, the literary language of the Uyghurs contained almost no Chinese loanwords. But now, large quantity of Chinese words has been introduced into Uyghur vocabulary. Meanwhile, in order to accelerate the sinozation of the Uyghurs, the Chinese authorities banned all Uyghur language schools in East Turkistan. Uyghur language schools have been merged with Chinese language schools, imposing Chinese as the language of instruction. Throughout the country hundreds of thousands of books written in Uyghur language have been burned or banned.



- CCP continues to view religion as a negative force in East Turkistan. Last April, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China jointly released a 114-page report accusing the Chinese authorities of directing a crushing campaign of religious repression against the Uyghur people in the name of anti-separatism and counter-terrorism.



- CCP continues to raise territorial claims on East Turkistan, and treat the Uyghur people as foreigners in their own motherland. Despite their rich civilization as old as the Chinese, the Uyghurs are still being treated as “barbarian,” “dirty,” “primitive,” and “backward” by the Chinese government.



- Millions of Chinese have come to settle in East Turkistan but if an Uyghur wants to settle in China, he needs a special permit which is impossible to obtain. A Chinese settler in East Turkistan has the right to settle anywhere he wants and do business as he wishes. But the Uyghurs are not allowed to open business in China. A Chinese can stay in the finest hotels in East Turkistan, but an Uyghur traveling on business to China is not allowed to stay in a hostel.



These policies of political oppression, cultural assimilation, economic exploitation, ecological destruction, racial discrimination have gradually turned East Turkistan into a time bomb. As a result, severe anti-Chinese sentiment is intensified throughout East Turkistan. Instead of defusing the tense situation Chinese authorities turned to ruthless and repressive measures aimed at silencing Uyghur people’s demands to live with dignity. Thousands of Uyghurs have been arrested, tortured or executed since Chinese occupation of East Turkistan.



After the unprovoked barbaric terrorist attack on United States on September 11, 2001, the Chinese authorities staged a worldwide campaign to portray Uyghurs as “terrorists.” Despite concerns expressed by the international community, the Chinese authorities continue to use the war against international terrorism as an excuse to launch a massive crackdown upon the Uyghurs people.



China’s current efforts to label Uyghurs as “terrorists” is clearly a part of CCP’s strategy as outlined in a secret document of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party entitled “Defending the Stability of Xinjiang”, adopted on March 19, 1996. It stated that the Chinese government must “through disinformation, prevent by all means, the separatist forces from making the so-called East Turkistan problem international.” The internationalization of the question of East Turkistan is the biggest fear of the Chinese leadership. Thus, since December 15, 2002, the Chinese government is spending 25 million dollars annually to spread disinformation in the hope to silence the voice of the Uyghur people abroad.



In conclusion, I would like to point out that although the Chinese government is making preparations to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, but the Uyghur people in East Turkistan are in a very hopeless, desperate and frustrated situation. Continued hopelessness could lead to violence. Where there is no justice there is invariably violence. Hopeless people have nothing to lose. The present silence in East Turkistan is deceiving. It is a silence before a storm. Tensions are gradually building up due to China’s hardline repressive policies imposed upon the Uyghur people. Thus, there is an urgent need to defuse the rising tensions in East Turkistan.



Respect for human rights is an essential element in conflict prevention. If the Chinese leaders do not want to turn East Turkistan into another Chechnya , then they must stop violating the basic human rights of the Uyghurs immediately. It is time that the Chinese leadership realizes that human beings cannot endure oppression forever. They must also understand that the Uyghur people’s will to live with dignity cannot be silenced by arresting, torturing and executing them or branding them as “terrorists.” Instead of using oppressive measures to silence the legitimate demands, desires, and the aspirations of the Uyghur people, the Chinese leadership should choose dialogue. The Uyghur Diaspora strongly believes that dialogue is the foundation for better understanding and peaceful solution to the East Turkistan Question.

Erkin Alptekin

President

World Uyghur Congress