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01-10-11, 22:54
12 June 2011
July 2009 Urumqi Riots
On the 5th of July 2009, there happened another tragedy for Uyghur people in Urumgi, located in the west part of the Chinese capitol of the Xing Jiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan). Uyghur people are Turkic natives to Central Asia. Mostly Uyghur people are Muslims, and their language belongs to the Turkic Group Altai System. Their population is ten million with a confirmed 45% in Xing Jiang Autonomous Region. Before 1949 their population was confirmed at 90% of the total population there (Radio Free Asia). One year after the Tibet riots, there occurred another riot between the Han Chinese immigrants and the minority at the minority region. “China has begun to expand Internet access in Western China’s Xing Jiang Autonomous Region after cutting service because of deadly rioting with over 200 people dead and 800 injured”. (Leslie)This news was released by CNN . Also, Xin Hua News Agency, as a media controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, released the same news, but in a different context and different level. “Barely 16 months after the Lhasa violence (March 15 Tibet Riots), Sunday’s deadly riot in the Xing Jiang Uyghur Autonomous Region bruised the beautiful city of Urumqi and shocked the world with 140 people dead and 800 injured by the people who like separatists and terrorists”. (Ying,Zhao and Yan,Zhou) This Xin Hua journalist used a lot of biased words on this report as we saw who was behind this violence. Also this writer mixed the definition of minority and majority. The most important mistake in this news report was the quantity of the dead and injured. Afterwards the World Uyghur Congress disagreed with the quantity of the dead and injured. The World Uyghur Congress claimed more than 2,000 Uyghur people were dead, 5,000 injured, 20,000 Uyghur people arrested, with more than 10,000 Uyghur people that have disappeared. Journalists, the Uyghur Congress, human rights organizations, and the Chinese government all disagree with each other over the quantity of people dead, injured, arrested, and missing, and the cause of so many lost lives (Ushur). So the International Human Rights Organization and the World Uyghur Congress suggested that the United Nations send an independent group to research these issues, but the Chinese government refused. Similar to the Tibet March 15 riots; the Chinese government alleges that these riots were planned from abroad by the World Uyghur Congress and it’s leader, Reiya Kadeer (Eckholm). Who is really responsible for this riot?
China as a well known world nation with their thousands of years of history and rich culture, has the worst human rights record. They also have a very bizarre political system. The Communist Party has absolute power in this most populous country in the world (Brand). All of the democratic countries have basic laws concerning human rights. In the United States basic human rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and being equal are guaranteed(The US Constitution). On December 10th 1948, the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Human Right Declaration). The Chinese People’s Republic Constitution has some description about basic human rights in Chapter 3, Article 33, 34, 35, 36, and 37; but according to the Human Rights Watch located in The United States and other human rights organizations, the human rights report about the Uyghur people in the Xing Jiang Uyghur Autonomous Region does not match the China People’s Republic Article in their Constitution(Human Right Watch). The leader of the World Uyghur Congress Rediya Kadeer said, “Destruction of the religion right, culture, and education spread by the Chinese government. Uyghur people are discriminated by the immigrant Han Chinese on their own land” (Radio Free Asia).
Human rights are very important for everybody, just as important as food and water. However the right to religion is the most important of rights. The Human Rights watch located in New York prepared a 114 page human rights report named “Religious Repression of Uyghur Muslim”. This report included all of the repression of the Uyghur people by Communist China. School was monitored. In the schools, Uyghur teachers and students can’t discuss any religious topic. Even at home, parents are forbidden to talk with their children about religion. Also Uyghur national dress is banned because it is considered a symbol of religion. Students under 18, teachers, Communist Party members, and even government officials are not allowed to pray in the mosque. Anyone who has the courage to talk about religion or pray in the mosque will be fired or kicked out of school. The female students are forced to remove their headscarves. Anyone who chooses to keep their headscarf the government gives them choices: headscarf or school. This report gave a lot of unbelievable examples. Not just Uyghur Muslims are persecuted, because the government also persecuted Uyghur Christian people. This report referred to a Uyghur leader named Alimjan Imit was falsely sentenced to 15 years in prison as a spy. The spokesman of the Chinese Embassy in the US refutes these reports and said, “In China everyone has freedom of religion” (China-Embassy-Web). As much as he had the right to refute anything, truth always is true. Brad Adams, the Asian director for Human Rights Watch said, “ The worldwide campaign against Terrorism has given Beijing the perfect excuse to crack down harder than ever in Xin Jiang.” China, as a signer of the Human Rights Declaration, must follow their obligation. The Human Rights Declaration Article 17 said, “Everyone has the right to freedom of religion”, but we can get a lot of information from different media how the Chinese government tortured the minority religious groups as well as the Tibetan monks.
When Uyghur people’s religious rights are destroyed, their culture is destroyed in the same way. The Han Chinese has destroyed much of the Uyghur historical heritage. A typical example is the 2000-year-old city of Kashgar. This city has a lot of old buildings with the Uyghur style that were built over the last 1000 years. UNESCO gave the World Heritage Status to this city. The Time Magazine journalist Ishaan Tharoor described, “According to observers, the bulldozing of the old Kashgar has only accelerated in the riot’s aftermath”. She said, “The Chinese government has justified it’s actions by saying the relocation will improve residents quality of life”. The Chinese government did not explain anything about how this will improve the resident’s quality of life for relocation. The Chinese government took a different way than when they protected their Han Chinese heritage in the central part of China. Another destruction of Uyghur culture is their language. According to an agreement with UN Human Rights, every minority has the right to use their own language. Ten million Uyghur people compared with the Han Chinese is a minority, but the absolute quantity of people is not a small number. According to Radio Free Asia, “After Bilingual Policy, many local Uyghur teachers lost their job because they don’t speak Mandarin. Some high school students no longer want to study at school. All of the courses require Mandarin now.” (Radio Free Asia). “This may end up destroying the Uyghur education system” (Ilham Tohti Professor at Beijing University). That is not all of the Bilingual Policy. In the school the Uyghur language is monitored. In the camp the Uyghur students and teachers can’t use their mother language. A teacher will lose their job and a student will grade down if they speak if they speak Uyghur. “How far will continue this” said one teacher who does not want to announce his name.
Human rights are a basic need of human beings, and Uyghur people need human rights too. Marlow’s Hierarchy of human needs said: The first of our needs are physiological needs such as food, air and water. Our second need is safety, which includes security of body, employment, morality, the family, health, and prosperity. The code of safety is a human right. The history of human beings is full of the struggle for freedom. The Uyghur people are not an exception. Uyghur people have to protect their human rights from being destroyed by the Han Chinese. So the Uyghur struggle for human rights cost many of them their lives. The 5th of July riots happened, and many Uyghur’s gave their lives so their weak but determined voice could be heard by the world. Finally the world heard their cries and witnessed their pain. Uyghur people are residents of the world too, and they have the right to enjoy the human rights declared by the United Nations.


Works Cited
Leslie,Bantz. “China eases internet Lockdown In riot-hit west”.CNN News.July 5 2009.
Ying,zhao and Yan ,Zhou. “Commentary: Riot a Catastrophe for Xin Jiang” .Xin Hua News.
July 5 2009.
Ushur ,Shohret. “Anger in Xin Jiang”. Radio Free Asia. July 5 2009.
“The universal Declaration of Human Right”. United Nations. Dec 10 1948.
Brand, Adams. “China: Religious Repression of Uyghur Muslims”. Human Right Watch.
Apr 12 2005.
Ishah,Tharoov. “Tear down Old Kashgar”. Time .July 29 2009.
Eckholm,Eric. “Exile in the US Becomes Face of Uyghur”. New York Times. July 9 2009.
“China Refuses on Religious Freedom”. China-embassy.org . China Embassy . Web. May 2005.