شعب الأويغور   شعب تركي مسلم يكابد من اضطهاد الاستعمار الصيني  ويدعوا أخوانه واخواته في العقيدة  للاطلاع على احواله ومعاناته

 
History   OF East Turkistan     :  By Anwar Yusuf
                   The largest ethnic group in Eastern Turkistan are, as noted, the Uighurs -- a Turkic people whose history reaches back more than 2,000 years. During the eigth and ninth centuries the Uighur Empire dominated the Mongolia steppe. Eventually, after their defeat in 840 A.D. by the Kirghiz, the Uighurs moved south -- settling in Eastern Turkistan and becoming part of the Turkic Karakhanid Empire. (Other Uighurs settled in what is now China's Gansu province. Though they speak Chinese, they still see themselves as descending from the Uighur people.)

The Mongol Empire swept into Eastern Turkistan early in the 13th century, and for the next 500 years Eastern Turkistan was part of what became know as the Turkic - Mongol Empire. One of the striking aspects of this period was the extent to which the Mongols adopted Turkic culture: militarily triumphant they rapidly became assimiliated.

The Manchus, having conquered China, invaded Eastern Turkistan in 1759, dominating it until 1862. During this period the Turkic people of Eastern Turkistan rebelled 42 times. In 1863, with the help of the Ottoman Empire, Eastern Turkistanis expelled the Manchus, founding the independent state of Eastern Turkistan. The new state established diplomatic relations with the Ottoman, British and Russian Empires; however, the maneuverings among the Great Powers led to a new Chinese invasion in 1876 -- this time with the support of the British who feared the expansion of Russia. China regained control of Eastern Turkistan the next year and formally annexed the province in 1884 -- giving it the name Xinjiang.

Nationalist Chinese, under the leadership of Sun Yat Sen, overthrew the Manchu Empire in 1911, establishing the Republic of China. Encouraged by the turmoil inside China, Eastern Turkistanis again rebelled. In 1933 they were able, briefly, to establish an independent Eastern Turkistan Islamic Republic headquartered in the city of Kashgar. In 1944, their rebellion had greater permanence: the Eastern Turkistan Republic set up in that year in three of the provinces districts (centered on the Ili Valley) lasted until 1949 when the Soviet Union supported the newly victorious Communist rulers of China in reacquiring total control.

In 1955, Beijing renamed the province Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

 

A History of Repression

Resistance to Chinese rule has been a basic reality in Eastern Turkistan for more than two centuries. Equally basic has been Chinese repression which has taken numerous forms.

Reflecting their success in other parts of their empire, China has pursued a policy of "divide and conquer" in Eastern Turkistan. As the Soviets did throughout Central Asia so also Chinese authorities have sought to emphasize the differences found among the Turkic people of Xinjiang. They sought, and continue to seek, to play Uighurs against Kazakhs and Kazakhs against Uzbeks. It is a policy that has had some success, though the Turkic people of the province have remained far more aware of the many linguistic, historical, cultural and religious factors they have in common.

Whether China's central government has had strong control over the outlying province, or the local warlord has generally been in charge, the Turkic people have consistently found themselves to be second class citizens in their own home. As China has accelerated in recent years the effort to absorb Eastern Turkistan through the importation of millions of Han, Turkic people have found themselves losing more and more ground. The best jobs, schools, and housing go to Han -- at the expense of the Turkic people.

Repression by force has continued to the modern day. How many people have died is not clear, but many who follow this struggle estimate the number to be at least one million persons since China's reacquisition of total control in 1949. One half million persons have been driven into exile. Hundreds of thousand have been arrested with many sent to prison camps, often never to be heard from again.

Isolated from the outside world, Eastern Turkistan has become China's dumping ground. Numerous laogai facilities have been set up to hold thousands of "criminals" not only from the province but also from around China. The goods produced by prison labor are often exported for profit.

The use of Eastern Turkistan as a dumping ground has extended to the environment as well. Many are aware that China's nuclear test facility, Lop Nor, is located in the province. What they do not realize is the degree to which Chinese authorities have steadily dumped toxic nuclear waste in ways that poison the land and water. Eastern Turkistanis fear that as many as 200,000 people have died as a result, with many more suffering permanent damage to their health.

Recent Violence

Three times in the last several years local resistance to Chinese rule has dramatically escalated into violent confrontation.

1. Baren -- April 1990.

On April 5, 1990, thousands of armed Eastern Turkistanis stormed government offices in the town of Baren, located in the southwestern part of the province, near Kashgar. They disarmed the local police, occuppied government offices, and declared the establishment of an Eastern Turkistan Republic.

Chinese authorities dispatched tens of thousands of armed police, militia, and Peoples Liberation Army soldiers the next day. The military response was substantial and widespread; airports in Kashgar, Urumqi, Aksu, Hoten and elsewhere were closed. Using tanks and aircraft, the Chinese reasserted control. There were numerous casualties on both sides. On April 8, martial law was declared. Thousands of local residents were arrested.

2. Khotan -- July 1995.

Early on the afternoon of Friday, July 7, 1995, thousands of Muslim worshippers mounted a sudden protest in front of the local government building in Khotan, an oasis city located in the southwestern part of the Taklmakan desert. The worshippers had, as always, assembled at a local mosque for the noon service only to learn at that time of the arrest of Iman Abdul Qayyum. In what appears to have been a spontaneous reaction, thousands of Muslims marched on the government adminsitrative offices to demand his release.

Chinese authorities, using more than 400 soldiers, put down the protest quickly and violently. The official local newpaper reported that the disturbance lasted 80 minutes and that Muslims had wounded 66 Chinese police and government officials, broke 256 car and building windows, four aluminum doors, and damaged 22 bicycles and one police car.

As is clear on video tape of the event obtained by the Eastern Turkistan Center, the protestors were non-violent. Chinese soldiers can be clearly seen shooting in the direction of the protestors. Several persons were killed with more than 700 wounded. The authorities arrested over 3,000.

Iman Qayyum had been leading services at the newly built Baytulla Mosque, named after the central mosque in Mecca. The mosque had become a focal point of concern for the authorities. Two earlier imans had been relieved of their posts after expressing resentment of Chinese rule. All three imans had chosen to conduct prayer in the Uighur - Turkic language instead of Arabic to make it easier for citizens to understand. The mosque, moreover, had been designed to encourage the participation of women, and the Iman Qayyum's teachings had also drawn women. Their rapidly increasing number had concerned the authorities who had attempted more than once to block their entry.

3. Ili -- February 1997.

On the evening of February 4, 1997, Public Security police forces swept across Muslim sections of the northestern city of Ili to make numerous arrests. Two days later hundreds of Muslim young people gathered at various city locations to protest the arrests and demand the release of their friends and family.

According to reports by the New York Times and others, the police responded violently, wading into the crowds with truncheons and beating the demonstrators. The crisis escalated rapidly and police used tear gas, water cannon and live ammunition. Authorities also closed the border with near-by Kazakhstan for five days.

Violence such as that which occurred in Ili has been reported elsewhere in Eastern Turkistan over the last year. Fearing a growing separatist movement, Chinese authorities mounted a "Strike Hard" policy in April 1996. Thousands have been arrested with many executed.

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