The Uighur of Xinjiang

June 27, 2006 at 6:29 am (Uncategorized)

I thought I might break for a moment from my usual political muckraking, to write a post about a subject that’s rarely mentioned in the UK. It concerns the Uighur people of south-western China, in Xinjiang province. A Turkic people, via whose lands today’s Uzbek, Kazakh, Azeri, Turkish and all other Turkic peoples of west Asia may well have migrated, the Uighur are subjected to daily repression by the Chinese authorities. They are routinely oppressed by the Chinese military, with innocent herdsmen being accused of being a part of separatist movements. The Uighur are Muslims, and the Chinese government has jumped on the “war on terror” bandwagon in order to intensify its repression of this predominantly peaceful (there are separatist movements, but the overwhelming majority eschew violence) people. Mosques are summarily closed by the authorities and the Uighur language is banned from use in universities. Uighur people are regularly forced to work, unpaid, building gas lines and similar projects.

Incidentally, lest any of you are harbouring illusions that “there’s no smoke without fire” or “they wouldn’t do it without a reason”, I would ask you to remember that this is the regime which arrests people for believing that moving around slowly in a park is good for the soul. And executes them, and harvests their organs. Are you gonna believe them, or the Uighur?

There are Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay, again thanks to their being swept up in the so-called “War on Terror”. They have serious trouble getting lawyers nominated to represent them, as is required in the USA, because elderly relatives on a hill in Xinjiang are not likely to be contacted by anyone in the USA, and even if they were, their familiarity with US law is likely to be somewhat sketchy. Such are the rights of prisoners in Freedom Central. There are organisations working to help the Uighur, but they face a regime in Beijing determined to treat their people with unimaginable brutality, and a western “human rights” movement that largely neither knows nor cares about their people’s plight.

So I would especially say to those of you who believe in an “anti-imperialism” which treats any regime that “counterbalances” the USA in a “multi-polar” world as a good thing, just you remember the Uighur. Just you remember that blithering on from London about how “we mustn’t criticise” such regimes until after imperialism is beaten, is so much easier than doing so whilst standing in front of a weeping bereaved mother in Xinjiang, whose son has just been executed for “political crimes”.

And to those of you (of all political and religious stripes) who claim to be speaking up for Muslim people worldwide, I have a question. Why are these people so much less deserving of your voice than the Palestinians, the Chechens or the Iraqis?

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