PDA

View Full Version : When will the world pay attention to the Uighur ‘problem’?



Erkin
16-04-05, 15:02
When will the world pay attention to the Uighur ‘problem’?

April 15, 2005

Farish A Noor

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_16-4-2005_pg3_2



The facility with which Washington’s ill-concocted discourse of the so-called ‘war on terror’ has been instrumentalised by governments all over the world should remind us of the fact that politicians in general are the spawn of Machiavelli. No sooner had the words ‘international terror network’ been uttered by President Bush Junior than they were echoed by politicians from all corners of the world. Indeed, the speed with which the ‘anti-terror’ discourse has been transmitted, consolidated and hegemonised worldwide proves that the manufacturing of consent (at least among the global political elite) is now a reality.

In South and Southeast Asia we have already seen how the ‘anti-terror’ discourse has been put to work and made to pay dividends. In Pakistan the administration of Pervez Musharraf maintains its close relations with the powers-that-be in the West by sailing close to the wind of the anti-terror campaign. In Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines the governments of Thaksin Shinawatra, Bambang Susilo Yudhiyono and Gloria Arroyo have likewise played the anti-terror card to the hilt, hoping that by doing so they will remain in the good books of Washington and Wall Street.

China is not to be left behind. Immediately after the declaration of President Bush’s ‘crusade’ against global terror networks, Chinese politicians made the startling discovery that countless ‘terrorist cells’ were operating in their country, notably in the strife-ridden regions of Xin Jiang and Tibet. Tibetans were luckier as most of them happened to be Buddhist. The Uighurs of Xin Jiang proved less fortunate.

In due course a concert of interests was manufactured. By deft lobbying and playing to the hysterical anti-Muslim gallery, the government managed to convince the world that a host of Uighur movements and organisations such as the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, Eastern Turkestan Liberation Organisation, Eastern Turkestan Information Centre and World Uighur Youth Congress were — surprise, surprise — dastardly underground Islamist terror organisations with networks extending as far as Osama Bin Laden’s bomb-proof basement.

That what began as a regional autonomy movement demanding fair and equal treatment of citizens can (and has) been transformed into a ‘militant religious threat’ is evidence of the utility of the instrumental fiction that is the ‘war on terror’ discourse. Almost overnight any Muslim organisation — including the Muslim stamp collectors’ club — can be designated a major threat to world peace as long as there is the political will and desire to do so.

But the Chinese government’s handling of the so-called ‘Uighur problem’ has less to do with the bogus fear of terror than a failure to address its own shortcomings in managing resources in the outer provinces of the country. As in the case of Tibet, the Uighur people of Xin Jiang feel that they have been neglected in the country’s march towards industrial development. The region’s resources have been depleted and the wealth from the area converted to capital to serve the developmental needs of other parts of the country. The calls for autonomy are understandable and certainly not unique to Muslims.

Then there has been the Chinese government’s mishandling of the question of China’s demographic imbalance. As in the case of neighbouring Tibet, Xin Jiang is a region where vast numbers of Chinese have been relocated. Needless to say, such state-engineered (and totally unnatural) transfer of populations is bound to lead to local resistance and unrest. Similar mistakes were made when Bangkok encouraged ethnic Thais to resettle in the predominantly Malay regions of Southern Thailand, and Jakarta relocated millions of Javanese from overpopulated Java to the outer provinces of Timor, Irian and Kalimantan.

The fundamental ideological problem, however, stems from the lingering traces of crude Marxist-materialist thought in the mindset of China’s pseudo-Communist political elite and intelligentsia. The Uighur’s calls for respect and autonomy (like that of the Tibetans) has always been couched in terms of cultural identity and differences which maintain the distinctly Muslim character of the Uighur people.

While such demands may seem understandable to Western-educated liberals schooled in the norms of ever-so-trendy multiculturalism, they fall on deaf ears when they are submitted before the gaze of fiercely (and even irrationally) secular Communists who see religion as a case of mass delusion and an ‘opiate of the masses’. China’s Muslims (as well as Christians and Buddhists) have always been seen as somewhat ‘irrational’ and ‘un-developed’ as a result of their attachment to their religious identity.

But beginning from this less-than-charitable premise, the officials of the Chinese state cannot comprehend how and why any group of people within its borders would want to claim autonomy on the basis of a shared belief system, and a religious one at that. The tendency to regard and present the Uighurs of Xin Jiang (like the rest of China’s Muslim minorities) as constituencies on the fringes of the Chinese nation-state is one of the reasons why the Uighurs feel alienated in the first place.

Today, with the spectre of anti-Muslim riots and a renewed campaign of persecution against ethnic/religious minorities looming over the horizon, China’s political elite and intelligentsia need to seriously ask themselves questions about the future of China and its identity as a multicultural nation with internal differences.

The notion of a homogenous China was never ever taken seriously in the first place, but the elite need to go beyond and accept the need to come up with workable steps to deal with the question of accommodation. Bogus talk of ‘clandestine terror groups’ is hardly the right way to deal with such questions, for it can only lead to more suspicion, alienation and eventually violence. In any case, it should be noted that anger and frustration against the Chinese government is not emanating from the country’s minority groups alone, but from the populace as a whole. It is for that reason that in 2002 it was reported that the best-selling badges and stickers among ordinary Chinese teenagers in the cities bore the image of Osama Bin Laden and the somewhat punkish slogan: ‘My name is Osama and I’m not afraid of anyone’.

Dr Farish A Noor is a Malaysian political scientist and human rights activist, based at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin

Sultan
16-04-05, 18:47
as i noticed there are alot of uyghurs in eastern turkistan doesnt know what is "eastern turkistan" !!! and it also goes to the most of the new generation of uyghurs who lived outside like turkey and saudi arabia.

the world will pay attention to the Uighur ‘problem’ when "all" the uyghurs inside eastern turkistan and outside it pay attention to thier problem to our problem .

Sultan
16-04-05, 18:47
as i noticed there are alot of uyghurs in eastern turkistan doesnt know what is "eastern turkistan" !!! and it also goes to the most of the new generation of uyghurs who lived outside like turkey and saudi arabia.

the world will pay attention to the Uighur ‘problem’ when "all" the uyghurs inside eastern turkistan and outside it pay attention to thier problem to our problem .