View Full Version : minority or national people?

27-09-06, 13:19
In the last years, China started to use in all official papers the term “minority” for the Uyghur people living in its north west province Xinjiang. This caused anger among the Uyghurs who consider themselves as a national people.

The Uyghurs are one of the Turkic ethnic groups living in the northwestern region of todays China. The official Chinese name of the region is Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, but the native Uyghurs have historically called their country or this region either Uyghuristan or Eastern Turkistan or both.

Since there is no clear definition of what constitutes a minority people in international law, I have been left to rely, somewhat, on the ‘explanation’ of a ‘minority’ ventured by Ted Gurr which is the most accepted definition by the Uyghurs. In his “Minority at Risk” project, Ted Gurr divided the non-state communal people to national people and minority people. Defined national peoples are “regionally concentrated groups that have lost their autonomy to the expansion of states but still preserve some of their cultural and linguistic distinctiveness and want to protect or reestablish some degree of a politically separate existence” whereas defined minority peoples are “groups with socioeconomic or political status within a large society – based on some combination of their ethnicity, immigrant origin, economic roles and religion – and are concerned about protecting or improving their status” { Ted Robert Gurr, Minority at Risk: A Global View of Ethnopolitical Conflicts (Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1993) p.10.}

The official Chinese definition of a minority stems from Stalin’s definition of nationality:

“Minority people are a historically constituted community of people having a common territory, a common language, a common economic life and a common psychological makeup which expresses itself in a common culture.”
Source: http://www.paulnoll.com/China/Minorities/C...definition.html

Uyghur politician Sidik Haji Rozi said that China is using this term on purpose to distort the history of the Uyghurs. Because, the Chinese definition of a minority cannot deal with the term of a nation state. They know very well that the Uyghurs had a nation state before, they had established two independent states called "The Republic of East Turkistan" in the region (the first in 1933, and the second in 1944 but they lost their independence to Chinese expansionism). Beijing has insisted on designating East Turkistan as "Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region" since 1949 after the Chinese communist invasion. They know very well that Uyghurs are not only a historically constituted community of people having a common territory but also that uyghurs are a national people who had been a nation state before. China is just afraid to use the name Uyghur officially because it is directly linked to the historical name of our country “Uyghuristan”. Unfortunately, this is not a well known fact in the western world and the western media uses also the term “minority” for the Uyghurs.

The President of the East Turkistan information center, Abdujelil Karakash said: “China is avoiding to use the word “Uyghur”, for the Uyghurs and is using the word “minority” inside the Chinese society. They are even gradually trying to eliminate the word “uyghur“ in the expression “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” in many official signs. Elimination of the word “Uyghur” inside the Chinese society gradually started to be common. This is a another assimilation policy of China among it’s other assimilation policy measures such as birth control, ban of the Uyghur language at schools, ban of religious freedom and freedom of speech and so on.

Chinese people, to call us a “minority” in our own country despite the numerical gulf, because the numerical superiority can give them feeling of possessiveness to oppress the Uyghurs which they call the minority.”

According to official statistics material published by the “Statistics Office of Xinjiang” the total population of Xinjiang was four million three hundred thirty three thousand four hundred, the number of Uyghurs in the population was three million two hundred ninety one thousand one hundred, and the number of Chinese in the population was two hundred ninety one thousand ( including soldiers) when the Chinese Communist Party entered Xinjinag.

Also recent Chinese statistics show that Uyghurs are 45.62% and Chinese are 39.87% and Uyghurs are still the majority in the region.

Former minister of the Chinese Communist Party, Zho En Lai had to explain in a speech in Qing Dao City why after the annexation of the region and establishment of autonomy in the region by the Chinese Communist Party in 1955 they named the region “Xinjinag Uyghur Autonomous Region”, and he pointed out as the reason to use the name of “Xinjinag Uyghur Autonomous Region” was because 70% of the population in the region was Uyghur.

Most of the Chinese think it is normal to eliminate “Uyghur’ words from “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” and call Uyghurs a minority because they think the region is part of China and Uyghurs were a very small ethnic group compare to the great Han Chinese Nation which they call “Zhong Hua Minzu”