Skip to comments.uighur-l Thoughts on Recent events
Posted on 09/18/2002 5:26:58 PM PDT by Gangchen_gonpo
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The popular sentiment among the Uyghur community in regard to the recent US decision to list the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as a terrorist organization is invariably disappointment. But, I have not seen any anger towards US so far. Because in Uyghurs eyes, US still scores much higher than our Muslim neighbors who share a similar culture, language and religion.
Several months ago I was invited for a lunch by An Uyghur to his newly purchased house outside of Washington DC. He is one the, if not the, most religious Uyghur in US. He also happens to be one of the few Uyghurs in this
country with no post-middle school education. He came to US just two years ago after spending several years with his family in the Central Asia. He got political asylum and settled here. I was quite impressed with his new home, a
three-bedroom townhouse in a nice area. He said he worked 10 hours a day and 7 days a week to save about $20,000 in two years. He put it for the down payment and was approved for a mortgage. He had to work hard to pay the mortgage and send his two sons to middle school, but he did not seem to mind at all. He was thrilled that there was job here for people like him who barely speak any English. He could not hide his excitement about being able to own such a nice home. He said: "This is not a Muslim country, but, it is almost a heaven compared to our Muslim neighbors in the Central Asia. And then he started to talk about his less than pleasant experiences in Uzbekistan. In theory it should be easy for Uyghurs to blend in with the locals and have a peaceful life since the Uzbeks speak the same language and share the same cultural traditions as Uyghurs. But, in reality, Uyghurs have
been constantly harassed and blackmailed by the police, he said. The police in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states think Uyghurs have money and they know that they have no protection, so they come up with all kinds of tricks to milk money from Uyghurs. Planting drugs on them, and finding problems with their visas or the passport are the most common methods they employ to throw them into jail so that they have to buy their freedom out. I was really happy that he and his family finally found peace and happiness here. In a way I was proud of my self because, being one of the few Uyghur activists in the US, I might have indirectly helped people like him. After all we have played a major role in bringing the human rights violations and political repression in East Turkistan to the attention of the world including the state department, which sets the guidelines for the political asylum for specific groups.
Just several years ago virtually nobody heard about Uyghurs in the US and other Western countries, for one simple reason: there was almost no Uyghurs in the West until the 90's. When I first came to US in 1994, there were just a dozen Uyghur families in the entire country. Today, the Uyghur population grew to 450 -500, mainly by people like him who wanted to run away from the Chinese persecution and found a safe haven in US.
I savored that lunch for long time, because it tasted like an American Dream.
"Uyghurs are late comers compared to other peoples immigrated to this country, but it is never too late for American Dream, I though to my self with gratefulness. But, I woke up in a new reality on August 27, the day US Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced the US decision to list the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. I learned that nothing is black and white in politics. But, I was not prepared for the disappointment. I am not as much disappointed for the act of listing of ETIM it self as for the consequence of this act to the Uyghur public at large.
Most Uyghurs, including my self, may not appreciate ETIM's view on religion and other social values (assuming they have been influenced in Afghanistan), but, as long as the Chinese oppression remains, it would be hard for any Uyghur not to feel sympathetic to an organization that is deemed fighting against that oppression, especially at this critical time when every Uyghur feels their national existence is being endangered systematically by such deliberate acts as removing the Uyghur language from the Uyghur classrooms, burning Uyghur books about the Uyghur culture and history, and attacking religion among other things, unless they resort to unacceptable means such as
Of course, terrorist acts are abhorred by the Uyghur public. The 1992 bus bombing in Urumchi outraged the Uyghur community. Incidentally, one of the buses exploded 100 yards from the building where I worked. It was the same bus line I used to take for transportation. Among the three dead was a Uyghur
old man. Nobody claimed responsibility for that incident, but, many Uyghurs believed it was the Chinese, probably the government, who was responsible. They needed an excuse to justify a preemptive strike on Uyghurs, whom the government has never trusted, in order to prevent a similar situation happened in the former Soviet Union (which unexpectedly collapsed and broke apart along the ethnic lines several months before that) and Eastern Europe.
I know very little about the ETIM. In fact, I did not hear about them until the Afghan war started. I do not know what the Afghanistan experience has done to those Uyghurs who took refugee there during the Taliban rule. But, from what I have seen I would not lump them up with the likes of Osama Bin Laden unless someone convince me that they committed terrorist acts such the bus bombings. I would not buy the Chinese "evidence" though. For China, any one who opposes them is a terrorist. They can easily fabricate "proofs" for their claim since everything, including people's lives, is in their strict control. For them, Dalai Lama is a terrorist, Rebiya Kadir is terrorist. They
also angrily accused the Munich based East Turkistan/Uyghurstan National Congress a terrorist organization last November when this organization held a
conference at the European Parliament Hall to discuss the Chinese atrocities in East Turkistan.
Chinese government issued a statement on Jan. 21st accusing the East Turkistan Islamic Movement as terrorist organization, and insisted that the East Turkistan Islamic Movement is financed by Osama Bin Laden and should be dealt with as part of the US-led "war against terrorism." China demanded that the "East Turkistan terrorists" captured during the American military action in Afghanistan be returned to China. But, Hasan Mehsum, the leader of the ETIM, categorically denied the Chinese claims in his interview with the RFA.
He said: "The Chinese invaders have always been blaming us with all kinds of labels, and have been carrying out activities to destroy us. But, in regard to your question, we don't have any relationship with Osama Bin Laden, and we
have not received any help either. All our activities are solely aimed at achieving independence for East Turkistan from the Chinese invaders and kick the Chinese invaders out from that land." "If there are Uyghurs among the Taliban, then they must have joined them out of their own Islamic feelings." He said: "Our organization's goal is to bring economic, religious and social freedom, and independence for the Muslim peoples in East Turkistan."
In response to the Chinese accusation, Hasan Mehsum said: "If we want to find
out who is terrorist then it should be the Chinese government who is murdering many of our brothers in the dark prison cells and tossing their bodies out, and killing our innocent babies and children, and destroying many
of our religious scholars. We are not terrorists; we don't like to carry out terrorist acts. But, we demand our rights. We demand our rights in a civil manner, if they respond to a civil manner we will demand in a civil manner, if they do not respond to the civil way, if they do not respect the rights of
the weak, and then they have to count on their luck."
It is not a secret that China has had all the neighboring Muslim countries in
its pocket. If Jiang Zemin speaks in Beijing, it echoes in Almaty, Bishkek,Tashkent and Islamabad. Some Uyghurs ended up in Afghanistan because nobody else gave them sanctuary. Pakistan deported Uyghurs to China where they were reportedly executed immediately. In total disregard to the appeals of the international community, Kazakhstan forcefully send back 3 Uyghurs to China in 1998 only to see all three were killed by China soon after. Kyrgyzstan sent back several Uyghurs to China over the past couple of years too. The whereabouts of many of them are not known. Most recently, a brother of someone who lives here in US was secretly sent back to China by the Kyrgyz
police. His family has been trying in vain to find out his whereabouts and if he is still alive. Several high profile Uyghur leaders who were very critical of the Chinese policy in East Turkistan were mysteriously murdered in Central Asia since 1998. The Uyghur community in central Asia and elsewhere believe they were victims of the political assassinations by China,
possibly with the involvement of local authorities. A prominent Uyghur market
in Bishkek, which was long suspected by China as financing source for separatists, was destroyed by a mysterious fire. It is a general feeling among the Uyghurs that Chinese money buys anything in the Central Asian countries where the corruption is omnipresent. China shamelessly accused the Uyghur organizations including the ETIM for the deaths of those Uyghur leaders.
On this question Hasan Mehsum said: "The Chinese invaders always play the same trick to destroy any movement against their rule in East Turkistan, they
only change the name of their trick from time to time to fit the times. We don't have the need to kill the leaders of those organizations; it is not our
organizations objective either. This is a lie that the Chinese have created out of thin air in order to alienate our people from us, to destroy the unity
of our people, and destroy our people's opinion on us. They might create even
bigger lies in the future to slander us, because as long as we continue our activity against them, they will always try to coin different bad names for us that fit the time. But, God willing, we will not stop, we will not turn back. We will continue this cause together with all our friends who are carrying out activities towards the East Turkistan cause."
What more concerns me is not the listing of ETIM, but the fact that US actually seem to have bought the Kyrgyz authority's allegation that they "uncovered an Uyghur plot to blow up the US Embassy in Bishkek," a peace "information" conveniently passed onto the US by China to back up charges of terrorist involvement. Because that allegation was based on the fact that those Uyghurs had a map of Bishkek and the diplomatic districts. Many Uyghurs
in Central Asia are looking for ways to come to the West where they can peace, something they could not get in those countries. Carrying a map of the consulate area is not strange for someone trying to get out Kyrgyzstan. In fact, a Kyrgyz security official was quoted by Washington Post (Sep 11, 2002) as saying: "The maps were of Bishkek and the diplomatic districts, but we had no indication that the United States was a target."
China was quick to jump to lump up the whole East Turkistan Movement as "terrorism" as soon as Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced the US decision to list the ETIM as a terrorist group. China did not hesitate either to blame all the alleged 200 acts of violence happened in
"Xinjiang" in the past 12 years since 1990 on the ETIM even though it had already attributed them on a variety of groups and individual inside "Xinjiang" in its earlier reports.
It is so obvious what China wants and why US had to compromise. But, some people may not know why China wants that. Why China does it has more to do with US than with Uyghurs. Just a couple years ago, China would deny the existence of a separatist movement which has actually never stopped ever since the Chinese occupation of East Turkistan in 1949 as a Chinese internal document revealed in 1994, long before the Taliban was born. http://uyghuramerican.org/researchanalysis/trans.html But, after the September 11, they eagerly shared their secret with the world to "expose" the "East Turkistan terrorists." China has sought to link its struggle against the separatist movement with the US fight on terrorism. Why this sudden change in their attitude? China has actively reached out to the Muslim neighbors with money, economic benefits, weapons, nuclear and missiles
technology, and its political clout at the UN, and got all of them firmly in its pocket. It does not have to worry about their objection to its plan to "take care" of the 9 million Uyghur problems over which Beijing has been losing sleep ever since the dramatic breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. But, China has a new headache now: the Uyghurs seem to have found
a new friend, a powerful one, the United States. Since 1998, Uyghurs in East Turkistan can listen to Uyghur voices, their voices, coming from the world capitol, Washington DC. China must be fully aware of what that implies. For the 9 million souls with pent-up emotions, a sense of having a powerful friend as US is sufficient enough to worry China. It has to break up this friendship thing, especially after the US troops stationed next door. That is
why China wants so badly to have US to list a Uyghur organization as "terrorist" and return those Uyghurs captured in Afghanistan to China. It wants to show to the Uyghur population that US is not their friend as they think. People are worried that China might use the listing of ETIM to legitimize the crackdowns in Xinjiang. Well, has not been China cracking down
without any excuse? Has China cared what the Uyghurs and international community thought about what it has been doing to Uyghurs? Did it really need
excuse to crack down? No, it did not. Nobody did any real harm to the Chinese
authorities when they tanked down their own students under the very eye of the world, who could possibly stop them from whatever they want to do to a powerless and friendless people that not many people heard of? Who could help
Rebiya Kadir whose case does not have an excuse? What is China doing has more
to do with a psychological warfare against the Uyghur population than the need for a justification for its crack down. China wants to spread the message that there is no such a thing as justice for Uyghurs, therefore, they
have accept its repressive rule. It is not a war targeting just the people inside China, it is also a war on the people who are campaigning for the Uyghur rights outside, like my self.
If China succeeds to make-up "evidence" to blame its political assassinations
on Uyghurs, if China succeeds to "convince" US of an "Uyghur plot to blow up the US Embassy" just using a map as "proof," I have to worry what they can find in my apartment even if I condole my self that an assassination in US is
out of reach of China. I have knives, and possibly other things, if someone needs to plot a story. I got involved in this activism after I came to US because I learned that democracy and freedom exist and survive because people
care, and I adopted the American believe that individuals have the social responsibility towards their community. Of course, I did not have to jeopardize my chance of ever going back to China to visit my family and friends; I did not have put my family in China at risk. Citing my activities here, authorities refused to issue a residency transfer permit to one of my nieces who passed college entrance exam this summer. Without the permit she could not register at the college. One of my nephews has just graduated from college; he said his job prospects are dead because of me. I would not have to look over my shoulder all the time even here in US if I chose to keep my mouth shut and suffer silently as millions of Uyghurs. But, I wanted to live
my American dream. I came here for education, but a graduated degree in US is
not enough to make me feel that I am really educated in US. I have to learn the way they built the greater things no matter what it takes. I never hesitated about my choice until now.
The US listing of ETIM as terrorist organization has very little real impact on ETIM. It may not have any significant assets to freeze, it may be already ceased exist even though its leader Hasan Mehsum might be hiding somewhere, but, it will have a big impact on the Uyghur population in general. Uyghurs inside East Turkistan might become more desperate and radicalized, and increasingly turn to violence. Most of the violence so far are carried out by
individuals or loosely organized small groups who probably acted on their anger. There is lot of pent-up anger since there is no venue for people to express their discontent. Whether China likes or not, the voices of the outside Uyghur activist groups might have served to calm down some of the agitated people inside China by saying what they are dying to say about the government policy, and giving them a glimpse of hope.
The outside groups are small and weak, representing the Uyghur community's strength in those countries. The Uyghur American Association, for example, does not have an office or a full time personal. It is run on donations, $2000-3000 a year, from the Uyghurs in US by a couple volunteers who work through Internet. The East Turkistan/Uyghurstan National Congress, the biggest Uyghur organization in exile, is in the same situation. All in all, there are just a couple of Uyghurs in the entire Western world who are capable of communicating with the world around them and willing to make the necessary personal sacrifice and volunteer their time to this cause. Last year I was the only Uyghur represented the voices of 9 million Uyghurs at the
World Conference Against Racism held in South Africa. Not because there was no racism in East Turkistan, but, because it reached to the extremes. Peoples one percent of our size sent large delegations whom could go back to their countries they accused of racism. It was sad and lonely experience for
me. Somehow it is coming back to me today.
I hope God understands Uyghur language.
Sept 17, 2002
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Sorry, Moose-limbs--you've brought my bad attitude towards everyone in the Ummah on yourselves.
Because in Uyghurs eyes, US still scores much higher than our Muslim neighbors who share a similar culture, language and religion.
Because in Uyghurs eyes, US still scores much higher than our Muslim neighbors who share a similar culture, language and religion.
Yeah, but is that sentiment real, or is it "taqqiyah?" We've been jerked around a lot by the rest of the Ummah--don't blame me for wondering.
Then they have my sympathies.
My point is that, normally, without the recent worldwide demonstrations of Islamist perfidy (9/11, suicide bombings in Israel, dancing in the streets in Palestine and Detroit, apologia from Farrakhan, CAIR, MEMRI, Cynthia McKinney, etc, etc ad nauseum), I would have naturally been sympathetic and believing. Now, the burden of proof in the propaganda contest for my goodwill (for the little value that it has) has been shifted. I'm thinking of America first, and I'm suspicious. Can you blame me?
The US listing of ETIM as terrorist organization has very little real impact on ETIM. It may not have any significant assets to freeze, it may be already ceased exist even though its leader Hasan Mehsum might be hiding somewhere, but, it will have a big impact on the Uyghur population in general. Uyghurs inside East Turkistan might become more desperate and radicalized, and increasingly turn to violence. Most of the violence so far are carried out by individuals or loosely organized small groups who probably acted on their anger. There is lot of pent-up anger since there is no venue for people to express their discontent. Whether China likes or not, the voices of the outside Uyghur activist groups might have served to calm down some of the agitated people inside China by saying what they are dying to say about the government policy, and giving them a glimpse of hope.
The only exception I can think of are the Volga Bulghars and Burtas who are in Russia and see their "homeland" occupied by increasing numbers of Russians.
I suppose that the same could hold true for the Uyghurs with Chinese colonists.
I think history matters, too. That's my problem. Recent history has not been kind. Muslims with media access have only compounded it in the past year.
Mission accomplished by the CCP propagandists. The West will no longer investigate the seemingly open linkages from the PLA to the ISI to Al Qaida to Abu Sayyaf, etc. The West have also fallen for a similar ruse vis a vis Russia and their Chechens. And yet, under no circumstances have the real GLOBAL terrorists such as Al Qaida EVER launched any sort of major attack against either PRC or Russian interests? Now why might that be? Here are some clues:
The PRC are part of the Trans-Asian Axis.... and are major sponsors of anti-Western terrorism. The truth cannot be hidden. As Beijing eyes the Strait of Malacca, and restive USSR2 looks on salivating, the duped idiotic Westerners sell their real allies down the road...
Like being tolerant of the Armenians' Christianity? That said, the Turks are as secular as Islamics get. Still, there's not a lot of religious diversity in Turkey.
"Gangchen Gonpo" sounds Tibetan to me.
How in the world do you come by such detailed knowledge of an area of the world that hardly exists in American history and tradition?
Misunderstanding here. rmlew is talking about yoghurt cultures not Uighur culture.
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