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UyghurAssociationUK
08-11-05, 18:22
8th November 2005


PRESS RELEASE

State visit of Hu Jintao to the UK

Uyghur Association UK condemns ongoing human rights abuses in East Turkistan (Xinjiang)


On the day of Hu Jintao’s arrival in the UK, the British media is full of reports and interviews about China’s human rights record especially with reference to Tibet, yet the ongoing repression of the rights of 10 million Uyghurs in East Turkistan (China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) is receiving little or no coverage.

The Uyghur Association UK calls on the British government, media and the general public not to forget the plight of the Uyghurs.


Major concerns:

• Large-scale Han Chinese immigration into the region
• Repression of political dissent and expression of Uyghur identity
• Repression of religious freedoms
• Ban on Uyghur-language teaching
• Arbitrary arrests, torture and executions
• The Chinese government’s use of the global war on terror to label Uyghur peaceful dissent as terrorism



Political Background

East Turkistan has been a site of heavy army and police concentrations since 1949, and is used as a base for nuclear testing, military training, and prison labour facilities. The percentage of ethnic Han Chinese in Xinjiang has grown as a result of government policies from six percent in 1949 to 40 percent at present, and now numbers some 7.5 million people. Much like Tibetans, Uyghurs in Xinjiang have struggled for cultural survival in the face of a government-supported influx by Chinese migrants, as well as harsh repression of political dissent and any expression, however lawful or peaceful, of their distinct identity. Reports from Xinjiang document a pattern of abuse, including political imprisonment, torture, and disappearance. Mosques are summarily closed and the Uyghur language is banned from use in universities. Uyghurs are subjected to compulsory unpaid labour in the construction of a pipeline planned to export local petroleum resources to other parts of China. Uyghurs also continue to be the only population in China consistently subjected to executions for political crimes, and these executions are often both summary and public.

A handful of small-scale explosions aimed at government targets over the past decade have been repeatedly invoked by the Chinese government, particularly since September 11, in support of its strike-hard campaign to crack down on separatism and terrorism. In policy pronouncements for both domestic and international audiences, the government has sought to establish that all separatism is tantamount to Islamic terrorism, and in fact uses the terms interchangeably. The state's efforts to extinguish the common desire among Uyghurs for autonomy or outright independence appear to have increased the alienation of the population and, some analyst's speculation, the potential for future violent conflict.

Economy

Unemployment among Uyghurs is extremely high, while the Chinese in East Turkistan are fully employed. For example, the petroleum industry in East Turkistan hires close to half a million people, but it hires almost exclusively Chinese workers. Even for the governmental jobs in the Uyghur countryside where virtually no Chinese reside the government sends Chinese soldiers, all of who are at most high school graduates, while many Uyghur college graduates who are better qualified for the positions cannot find a job. All the unused arable lands were occupied by Bingtuan, a group of paramilitary state farms that formed from retired Chinese soldiers and Chinese settlers. They often settle at the upper reaches of the main rivers and reduce the water supply to traditional Uyghur farmlands. They also heavily contaminate the rivers. With no room to expand and not enough water to sustain the existing farmlands, the Uyghur villages have become overcrowded and poorer. Most Uyghur farmers still have no access to electricity and clean water, and they drink from the contaminated rivers. As a result, disease is widespread. The majority of Uyghur farmers do not have access to the health care system, and many cannot afford to see a doctor when they get sick.

Cultural Assimilation, Economic Segregation

In East Turkistan, China is actively promoting the "Sinification" of the Uyghurs, whereby cultural, linguistic, and religious aspects of Uyghur culture are outlawed, banned, or otherwise discouraged. At the same time, China's putative "Develop the West" Campaign, while pumping millions of dollars into East Turkistan, does little to improve the life of most Uyghurs. Jobs are being created, but those jobs are given to those from China's Eastern provinces who are given substantial financial incentives to move to East Turkistan.

Religious Persecution

Uyghurs face religious persecution by the Chinese Communist Party. They are denied good employment, governmental voice, and other rights if they choose to go to mosque. The CCP is also limiting the building of new mosques and is continually tearing down ancient mosques and other religious institutions that have been a part of Uyghur culture for centuries in order to discourage Uyghurs from practicing their religion. There are no religious books on the bookstores to learn the religion.

Political Prisoners

Thousands of Uyghurs are held in prisons because of their political beliefs, often admitted without any kind of due process or trial. As a result, all Uyghur live in constant fear of doing or saying something that might land them in a CCP political prison.

The scholar Tohti Tuniyaz, journalist Abdulghani Memetimin and writer Nurmuhemmet Yasin are typical prisoners of conscience who currently remain in Chinese jail. The most famous Uyghur political prisoner Rabiya Kadeer was released in 2004, but her family and associates face ongoing persecution because she has chosen to speak out about abuses against the Uyghurs in exile in the US.

Refugees

Many Uyghurs have fled to neighbouring countries in order to escape the persecution they face in East Turkistan by the CCP. However, since September 11, 2001, Chinese authorities have applied increasing pressure to foreign governments to return these refugees to China, where many, especially those who are fleeing because of political or religious reasons, face imprisonment, torture, and in some cases, execution.



Uyghur Association UK

Address: Uyghur Association UK, PO BOX 52033, LONDON, SW2 9AH
E-mail: uyghurassociation@yahoo.co.uk



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The Uyghur Association UK is the sole legal representative organization for Uyghur refugees (exiles) living in the UK. We organise community and cultural events. We campaign to bring Uyghur voices to the British government and British people regarding the ongoing gross human rights violations in East Turkistan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, P.R. China). We co-operate with human rights organisations. We lobby governments to apply pressure to stop the Chinese government’s abusive policies towards the Uyghurs.



Further information:

http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGASA170212004?open&of=ENG-CHN
http://www.eastwestcenter.org/stored/pdfs/PS006.pdf
http://www.hrichina.org/fs/downloadables/pdf/downloadable-resources/b1_Criminalizing1.2004.pdf?revision_id=8744
http://www.uygur.org/english.htm
http://www.uyghurcongress.org/En/home.asp
http://uyghuramerican.org/