Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mongolian dissident’s son arrested and detained for “obstructing official business”

SMHRIC
October 16, 2015
New York

On October 15, 2015, Mr. Uiles, son of the Mongolian dissident Mr. Hada, who had been imprisoned for 19 years, was taken away by police in western Southern (Inner) Mongolia’s Bogot City (“Bao Tou Shi” in Chinese) after being beaten bloody. Later on the same day, Uiles was placed under a 10-day detention on a charge of “obstructing official business.”

Ms. Xinna, mother of Uiles, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) that on the morning of October 15, 2015, she, Uiles, and her mother Ms. Hanshuulan, were talking together as they took a walk near Hanshuulan’s residence. A State Security agent followed them closely and listened to their conversation.

“I asked him to stop following us. Not only did he refuse to distance himself, but he approached even closer and started cursing at us,” Xinna told SMHRIC via a voice message. “My son Uiles also asked him not to follow us. He started punching and kicking Uiles.”

Xinna described the scene: “Uiles resisted the physical assault and defended himself. Physically fit and professionally trained, the agent beat my son until he was bleeding from his hands and elbows.”

Xinna said she was also beaten by the State Security agent as she tried to protect her son from the assault and attempted to pick up his sunglasses, which were smashed on the ground during the altercation.

“Shortly later, a police vehicle from the Bogot City Qing Shan District Public Security Bureau arrived on the scene and forcibly took my son away,” Xinna told SMHRIC.

Both the “Notice to Family of the Summoned” and “Notice to Family of the Detainee,” issued by the Qing Shan District Public Security Bureau, state that the Bureau summoned and detained Uiles for “obstructing official business” in accordance with Article 50 of “The People’s Republic of China Public Security Administration Punishment Act.”

The detention period is 10 days starting October 15, 2015. Currently Uiles is held at the Bogot City No.1 Administrative Detention Center, according to the “Notice to Family of the Detainee” issued to Xinna.

“This is nothing but a continuation of the persistent harassment and persecution against my family that started almost 20 years ago, when my husband, Hada, was arrested and imprisoned for defending the rights of the Southern Mongolians,” Xinna said, expressing her strong criticism of the Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed policy in the region.

In Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, Hada also protested against the authorities’ brutal treatment and arbitrary detention of Uiles.

“Today I went to the Autonomous Region Party Committee and the Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau, and demanded the immediate release of my son,” Hada told SMHRIC in a written statement.

“The police beat up and injured my son before placing him under detention. My wife was also beaten. I urge the authorities to release my son immediately and unconditionally; I urge them to bring those police who were engaged in these criminal acts to justice,” Hada said in another written statement and identified himself as “Uiles’ father, who had been imprisoned unjustly for 19 years.”

In 1995, Hada was arrested and later sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “splitting the country and engaging in espionage.” On December 10, 2010, he completed his full prison term. Yet, not only did the Chinese authorities refuse to free him, they placed him under another 4 years of extrajudicial detention in a “black jail” in suburban Hohhot.

His wife, Xinna, was arrested on December 4, 2010, on a trumped-up charge of “involvement in illegal business,” referring to her Mongolian Studies Bookstore. In April 2012, she was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve on the same charge.

On December 5, 2010, Uiles was arrested for “illegal drug possession.” After nearly a year of detention, he was discharged but was placed under “residential surveillance,” a form of house arrest.

In 2002, the then 17-year-old Uiles was arrested and sentenced to 2 years in prison for another trumped-up case of “involvement in robbery.”

Ai Weiwei on Tibet

From the Tibet Society:

ai-weiwei-2015-2

On the 16th of September, Ai Weiwei was in London and during a Q&A session was asked ‘how the Chinese felt about the oppression of the Tibetan people.’

His carefully worded answer:

“Tibet, and also some related situation like minority situations, [is the] result of this whole system. If the system is not changed, if the political situation is not changed, I don’t think Tibet has a chance for the condition to change.”

“It’s a very sad situation but I think it is lacking of communication, lacking of sincerely understanding of humanity or respect of different culture and language. This not only happens to Tibetan people but also happens to Chinese. It’s just the general condition.”

For Freedom!

Hada answers Hindustan Times reporter Sutirtho Patranobis’s interview

Hada answers Hindustan Times reporter Sutirtho Patranobis’s interview
http://smhric.org/news_573.htm
English translation by SMHRIC
June 27, 2015
New York

Sutirtho: Can you share with me and my readers about your experience in jail? How were you treated? Some reports say that you had been tortured. Is it true? What methods did the police apply? What were your living conditions in the first 15 years? Did the conditions improve in any way during the last four years?

Hada: The main objective [of the Chinese authorities] during the 19 years I was in prison was to force me through physical and mental torture to admit to alleged crimes. As a result, I became physically disabled suffering from multiple complications. All kinds of torture methods including use of toxic drugs were applied to break me down mentally to force me to write some statements of their choosing. On two occasions, I was placed under solidarity confinement for 99 days in total. Not only was I tortured in prison far away from my home, but also my family suffered a great deal during those 15 plus years Their objective was to isolate me from my loved ones to break me down. What is even more egregious was that following the 15 years of imprisonment, they threw me into a “black jail” and persecuted my wife and son on trumped-up charges. Could this be called improved treatment? Needless to say, it was not. Rather this should be considered a further violation of laws and rights.

Sutirtho: What do you have to say about the charges that were brought against you?

Hada: There were ethnic repressions widespread in Southern Mongolia at that time. Specific evidence of this include the steady flow of Chinese immigration to Southern Mongolia, cultivation of the grasslands for agricultural purpose, forceful assimilation of the Mongolian population, gradual deprivation of the autonomous rights of the Mongolians, mass unemployment of Mongolian students, desertification of the grasslands and increasingly disastrous sandstorms and so on. In summary, the very existence of the Mongolians as a distinct people was under threat, and the traditional culture was dying out. Under these circumstances, the government criminalized the activities of the Mongolian intellectuals who organized themselves to save the national culture. History and events testify to the fact that we were not guilty of any crimes, rather the government has committed serious crimes.

Sutirtho: What kind of routine did you have in jail? Did you have access to books and reading material? How did you spend your time?

Hada: The prison authorities had always been consistent in stating that I would be exempt from hard labor and would be treated well including access to books and television if I were to admit to the alleged crimes. They told me that the reason why they were keeping me in prison was not for putting me under reeducation through labor but was to have me admit to the crimes I allegedly committed. They even deliberately treated me better for short periods of time as an incentive. Despite these I never wavered in my beliefs. Then they attempted to break me down with unbearable hard labor. Violating their own prison law, the authorities forced me to engage in hard labor day and night, causing severe injury to my spinal discs. On cold winter days, they forced me to wake up before dawn to clean up the prison yard, causing serious injury of the nerves to my legs that were exposed to freezing cold during this period of time. During the entire period of imprisonment, I had a dozen major health problems which still exist and are unlikely to be cured.

Sutirtho: Did the authorities try to brainwash you?

Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, [the authorities] repeatedly attempted to force me to change my thoughts and beliefs. They told me over and over that my main goal should be to change what I think and what I believe. In Chinese prisons, there is a popular song with the lyrics of “the goal of prison is to change thoughts and beliefs”. Again during the four years of extrajudicial imprisonment in the “black jail”, they attempted to force me to give up my thoughts and beliefs, to be obedient, to cooperate with them and to be subservient to the Chinese Communist Party. They repeatedly told me that the only hope lies in following what the Communist Party says, and the United States and Europe are unable to save us. It is clear that forced brainwashing will not end so long as the dictatorial regimes do not fall apart.

Sutirtho: What about food? Did the authorities ensure that you got regular meals in jail?

Hada: Food in prison was extremely inferior in quality. This was especially the case during the 15 years of imprisonment. At some point the food quality was improved slightly. Yet, the majority of the inmates complained they were unable to eat it. Over the first two thirds of the 15 years imprisonment, I was not provided with any food and hot water. I had to buy food with the money sent from my family to survive this long period of time. This was because I refused to give up my thoughts and beliefs. This was the case even when I was completely worn out and unable to move due to extreme hard labor. I would not have survived those hardships without the support of my family. Even during the last four years of extrajudicial imprisonment, the amount and choice of food was restricted.

Sutirtho: Did your family and legal team have regular access to you? Reports that said you suffered from serious medical conditions. What kind of conditions were those? Did you have access to proper medical treatment?

Hada: During the 15 years of imprisonment, my family members were allowed only sporadic visitation rights. Serious health problems had consistently been left untreated. In extreme cases, some medical treatment was reluctantly provided if the inmates were able to pay for it despite the fact that prisoners’ medical treatment must be paid by the government in accordance with prison laws. In the last four years, prison visits by my family members were also strictly limited. In some cases, more than a year passed between family prison visits. No matter who came to visit me, they were thoroughly searched and sometimes even had to undergo a strip search. This was again an attempt to isolate me from others to break me down.

Sutirtho: Your wife, son and extended family also faced serious problems in the time you were in jail. How did they cope? Apparently, the authorities tried to bribe them. Is that true?

Hada: Over the past 19 years, my wife was arrested multiple times. The latest arrest resulted in a 3-yearjail term with 5 years reprieve which has not expired yet. Our bookstore had been shutdown numerous times. It is still closed today. My family had no choice but to make ends meet with money borrowed from others. My son was expelled from school under a false accusation, and was sentenced twice on trumped-up charges. He has been barred from being employed even for temporary jobs, making him unable to be independent. Besides these, my family and I had also overcome many other difficulties and hardships. The authorities had never stopped promising a good life in exchange for our cooperation over these 19 years. None of us accepted their offer. They are still trying.

Sutirtho: How have these 19 years in jail and detention changed you as a person? Are you now more determined to follow your ideals of protecting the unique culture and identity of your community?

Hada: In 1992, the main reason why my organization’s name was changed to “Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance” was that we realized that democracy, freedom and human rights would be an unstoppable historical trend after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the eastern bloc countries. I wrote a number of articles about this at that time. Although I had been worried about the deteriorating situation in China and Southern Mongolia during my 19 years imprisonment, the beliefs I formed in 1992 have never been shaken. I believe the developing trend of international communities is becoming more and more favorable to us. Therefore, my determination to dedicate my entire life to the cause of the Southern Mongolians has never weakened owing to my firm belief that there must be a solution to the Southern Mongolia question. Just because of this, I am still continuing my struggle after my release from prison.

Sutirtho: You personally – and your wife and son – have experienced the might of the Chinese government. Do you think it is possible for an individual to carry this fight on?

Hada: The all three members of our family have been subjected to a series of persecutions. The persecution is still continuing. Yet, I don’t think it is impossible for an individual to fight against a government. It is common for governments to violate laws and commit crimes. This is especially true with authoritarian regimes that often times oppress not only other nationalities but also their own people. So fighting a regime is not an easy task. In other words, one must be prepared for huge losses and suffering which many people are afraid of. It is not an easy undertaking for an individual or a family to fight a regime and claim victory. Yet, not everything should be measured with success or failure. Whether one pursues justice or not, whether one takes up historic responsibilities that each of us bears also need to be taken into account. Every nation or people cannot be without some of this type of individual, as few as they may be.

Sutirtho: What are your next steps? Even after your release from jail, do you have the freedom of movement and expression?

Hada: I will continue to fight against ethnic repression and strive for genuine autonomy for the Southern Mongolians. As a first step, I will file legal complaints for the four years extrajudicial detention, false accusations and persecutions against my wife and son, the shutdown of our bookstore and the retaliation against my attorney. Then, I will file a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the unjust trial and unfair sentence of 15 years in jail. In fact, my legal complaints and lawsuits themselves are a form of struggle against ethnic repression. At the same time, I will learn how to use a computer and the Internet to have a better understanding of what is happening around the world. It is impossible for those who fight for the future and interest of their nation that is oppressed by a dictatorial regime to have real freedoms before the nation itself is completely freed.

Sutirtho: What are main issues or problems that Inner Mongolians face currently?

Hada: The most critical issue the Southern Mongolians are facing is how to achieve genuine autonomy. The main reason why there existed serious ethnic repressions in Southern Mongolia is that the Southern Mongolians have completely been deprived of their political rights and right to autonomy. It continues to deteriorate now. This is the exact reason why we had changed our organization’s name from the Southern Mongolian Cultural Enlightenment Conference to the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance. As you might know, since the Southern Mongolians have long become an absolute minority and de facto second class citizens on their own land, they have been deprived of their right to manage their own state affairs independently. This problem can be resolved only if all Southern Mongolians make up their minds to fight hard with all their might and energy with the strong support of justice seeking people from around the world.

Sutirtho: The situation in Inner Mongolia seems to be more peaceful than in Xinjiang (which is witnessing increasing ethnic violence) or even Tibet (nearly 130 cases of self-immolation). How is the situation in Inner Mongolia different from these two places? Are the government policies for your province different or better than in Xinjiang and Tibet?

Hada: The Southern Mongolians have already established their own political parties and fought for autonomy for 90 years. Although the struggle has failed repeatedly, the spirit and determination of the Southern Mongolians have never faded away. As the situation of Southern Mongolia is at its lowest point, Southern Mongolians have taken the path of peaceful means to achieve autonomy. However, as a result of the Chinese authorities’ heavy-handed policies, brutal repressions, and gradual deprivation of autonomy rights, Southern Mongolia have become a nation of slaves. The Tibetans and Uyghurs who have witnessed this tragedy have decided to choose their own path.

Sutirtho: Do you think that Beijing has any plan or intention to address the issues plaguing the Mongolian people?

Hada: Beijing publicly claims that there is no problem in Southern Mongolia and advertizes to the world that the situations in Southern Mongolia are fairly plausible. Therefore, what can we expect from them to resolve our issues? In fact, it is evident that Beijing firmly believes that Southern Mongolians will fight to gain their autonomy, independence or even unification with the independent country of Mongolia if they do not speed up their assimilation process. Therefore, they are trying all possible means to accelerate their assimilation. The root cause of the deteriorating ethnic problems during the past six decades is nothing but the Beijing regime itself. Thanks to the strong backing from Beijing, local officials are not only free from any liability even if they abuse the Southern Mongolians at will, but also are rewarded with wealth and promotion of rank.

Sutirtho: Could you please share something about your life and times before the ordeal of jail and detention began in the mid 1990s? How has the world changed since the time you were dispatched to jail and now?

Prior to my arrest, our family life was relatively good. During these 19 years, the economy has improved in China. Yet, the authoritarian regime remains untouched. The reason is that there has been no political reform at all while a series of economic reforms took place. Especially since the so-called “Western Development” project was launched, the Beijing regime deliberately blended ethnic problems with economic issues, solely pursuing economic growth through unscrupulous plundering of natural resources in ethnic minority regions. As a result of further deprivation of autonomous rights, ethnic problems have steadily escalated. History testifies that authoritarian regimes have no ability to resolve ethnic problems.

Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations (2)

Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations (2)
http://chinachange.org/2015/04/23/present-day-ethnic-problems-in-xinjiang-uighur-autonomous-region-overview-and-recommendations-2/
By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 23, 2015

Continued from I. Unemployment

II. Bilingual Education

Overview

Besides unemployment, the issue that provokes the most intense reaction within Xinjiang’s Uighur community is the issue of bilingual education. In practice, “bilingual education” in Xinjiang has essentially become “monolingual education” (i.e. Mandarin-only education.) Within the Uighur community, there is a widespread belief that the government intends to establish an educational system based on written Chinese and rooted in the idea of “one language, one origin.” Suspicions abound that the government is using administrative means to exterminate Uighur culture and accelerate ethnic and cultural assimilation. With the mandatory implementation of so-called “bilingual education,” the Uighur language has become steadily marginalized, not only in the field of education but also in government administration, the judiciary, and other areas. Despite being one of the official languages of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the Uighur language has long been deprived of the respect, attention, status and legal safeguards it deserves.

In practice, the greatest problem with bilingual education in Xinjiang is that it produces a large number of students who are proficient in neither their mother tongues nor in Mandarin. This has led to declining educational standards and difficulties for ethnical students, who dread attending school, to master subjects. The bilingual education system in Xinjiang mandates that physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and other subjects be taught in Mandarin Chinese, which means that Uighur and other ethnic minority students are often unable to understand what they are being taught. This policy is responsible, to a large extent, for the steady increase in dropout rates for Uighur and other ethnic minority students. Another consequence is that many experienced Uighur primary school teachers have been forced into early retirement or made to leave their faculty positions for jobs unrelated to teaching. Thus, a large number of Uighur schoolteachers have become direct casualties of government policy on bilingual education.

“Bilingual education” in Xinjiang has increasingly given way to “monolingual education,” raising grave concerns and causing serious repercussions. This has the potential to spark a larger-scale Uighur rights movement aimed at defending Uighur language education and preventing the extermination of local language and culture. In recent years, Uighur fears of cultural and linguistic annihilation have been greatly exacerbated by a sharp contraction in Xinjiang’s local-language publishing and cultural industries.

This sudden dwindling of Xinjiang’s Uighur-language publishing and cultural industries has profound and far-reaching consequences. Not only does it threaten the demise of Uighur culture and the suppression of Uighur intellectuals, it has also caused vast swaths of the Uighur community, most of whom live in isolated rural areas, to become completely cut off from contemporary civilization. Southern Xinjiang, taken as a whole, is extremely backward: it is a geographical backwater of scattered, insular oases, and the vast majority of its Uighur inhabitants do not understand Chinese. For these reasons, the majority of households in southern Xinjiang are cut off from books, newspapers, radio broadcasts and television programs offering up-to-date information or news about the outside world.

This severing of communication channels means that, notwithstanding a small number of Uighur elites fluent in Chinese, most traditional Uighur communities are utterly deprived of access to contemporary news and information. In an increasingly competitive and open social environment, this makes Xinjiang’s traditional Uighur communities inherently less adaptable to external stimuli than traditional Han Chinese communities in other areas of China. When people are unable to attain the knowledge essential to a modern society, unable to cultivate strength of character for modern life, or to acquire healthy modern societal values such as rationality, tolerance and open-mindedness, they may find themselves in crisis, consumed by fear that they are being increasingly abandoned by modern society. The rapid disintegration of traditional society and the challenges of adapting to a new environment can leave people mired in ignorance, parochialism, savagery and despair.

Over the past ten years or so, traditional Uighur society has experienced an unprecedented surge in crime rates, the rapid disintegration of morals, and the spread of religious extremism and cultural conservatism. Add relative impoverishment and an increasing hatred of Han Chinese, and you have a vicious circle that intensifies day by day. It is this, combined with misguided government ethnic policies, that has allowed backward, ignorant, parochial, extremist, isolationist and fanatical ideologies to proliferate, creating a breeding ground for “the three forces” [of separatism, religious extremism and terrorism.]

Measures such as preaching national unity, making minorities reliant on government handouts, and accelerating the Sinification of China’s Uighur communities are not a sufficient bulwark against separatism, religious extremism and terrorism. Contrary to the common perception of Uighur cultural, educational and publishing industries as being too prone to strengthen Uighur ethnic and cultural awareness, it is only by allowing these industries to develop and thrive, to keep pace with the times and with history, that we can weaken “the three forces” [of terrorism, religious extremism and separatism] by denying them ground in which to take root. This is the only feasible long-term method by which to defeat them.

Therefore, we may say that the backwardness of Uighur cultural, educational and publishing industries is not only the enemy of Uighur society, but also the enemy of Han Chinese society.

In fact, nearly all Uighur families want their children to receive a better-quality education in Mandarin Chinese, and they feel that genuine “bilingual education” has come too late. Yet at the same time, the prevailing view and mainstream opinion in Uighur communities is that “Bilingual education should not come at the expense of one’s mother tongue.” Mandarin’s special status as China’s lingua franca should not make it an excuse for linguistic discrimination or forced linguistic assimilation. In a nation of diverse ethnicities, shared cultural values should be expressed in diverse ways, not subject to standardization or unification. Education should not be made the “executioner” of native languages and scripts.

As for why “bilingual education” in Xinjiang has devolved into “monolingual education,” the answer lies in the slapdash way in which bilingual education policy has been implemented:

1. Deficiencies in technical and basic preparations (i.e. finding qualified faculty, investing in school and facilities construction); inadequate consideration of regional differences and local needs; implementing educational policy in a “one size fits all” fashion.

2. Academic content and curricula that do not take into account either the specific academic needs of ethnic Uighur students, or the successful experiences of schools in China’s other ethnic regions.

3. Xinjiang’s limited allotment of teaching staff, poor infrastructure and low student academic abilities were scarcely sufficient for a monolingual education program, much less a full-scale bilingual education program.

4. Implementing “bilingual education” has actually exacerbated the educational funding gap between Han Chinese and Uygur students. For example, in the city of Atushi [also spelled Atush or Artux], the Han Chinese population numbers 22,725, the Uighur population 198,217, and the Kyrgyz population 29,186. If we do not count the Municipal No. 2 School, located forty kilometers outside of the city, Atushi has only three high schools: one Chinese-language school (Prefectural No. 2 High School) and two Uighur-language schools (Prefectural No. 1 High School, and Municipal No. 2 High School). Class sizes in the Uighur schools average more than 50 students per classroom, whereas the Chinese school averages only 30 students per class. Differences in teaching quality and levels of educational investment have widened the educational gap between Han Chinese and Uighur students, both in terms of their access to knowledge and their ability to master new subject matter.

Thoughts and Recommendations

1. Xinjiang needs true bilingual education. The [Korean-language] bilingual education program in Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture is a typical success story. Xinjiang can draw from that experience in restructuring its own bilingual educational content and curriculum.

2. In ethnic-minority populated areas, increase investment in the hardware and software required to provide true bilingual education, and redress the grievous imbalance in educational resources allocated to different ethnic groups.

3. Train qualified teachers. Currently, the biggest impediment to bilingual education is a serious shortage of qualified teachers. It will be difficult to alter this situation in the short term, but by focusing on systematic training of existing teachers, we can gradually reduce or dispel the regional disparities among teachers of bilingual education.

4. Exam-based university selection of minority students: although the current system of adding points to the university entrance exam scores of ethnic minority test-takers is in line with the central government policy of favoring minority candidates, in practice, many of the true beneficiaries of this preferential scoring system are academically-accomplished minority students who do not require preferential treatment, or even affluent, well-connected Han Chinese students. It might be possible to replace the “added points” section of the exam with test matter related to Xinjiang’s ethnic and cultural diversity. Not only would this signal to Uighur students that Xinjiang’s multi-ethnic and multi-cultural traditions have not been forgotten by the educational system, it would also deepen everyone’s understanding of Xinjiang’s ethnic and cultural diversity, thus shaping a richer and more inclusive national identity and consciousness.

5. Raise the number and prestige of ethnic minority cultural and publishing endeavors, in order to reverse the rapid decline of minority cultural industries. In terms of fiscal policy, increase government investment and support for ethnic minority cultural, educational and publishing industries, and accelerate Uighur-language participation and access to modern information technology. Both the regional and the central government should advance Uighur rural society by promoting knowledge about modern social life and modern production methods, and making this a key element in long-term planning.

With regard to Uighur folk culture, the government of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region should search for ways to encourage and support grassroots cultural initiatives in this field. The regional government should also begin experimenting with gradual reforms of the ethnic minority cultural and educational publishing industries: for example, introducing market-based mechanisms or objective quality targets, harnessing the initiative and enthusiasm of existing staff, and avoiding the current problem of overstaffing.

6. Increase regional or national government support for specialized research and scholarship on the social transformations affecting Uighur communities. Encourage the participation of mainland Chinese and even overseas scholars and academics, so that China’s rulers may draw on their collective wisdom and counsel to resolve the nation’s ethnic and social dilemmas. In mainland China at the moment, there is an almost complete dearth of worthwhile academic research on this topic. One hopes that if scholars are allowed more academic independence, it will help to fill this void.

7. Establish a plan and systematic targets for training a new breed of top-tier ethnic minority intellectuals, and incorporate them into national planning via funding for specially earmarked projects.

Xinjiang suffers from a dearth of ethnic minority intellectuals, at least those who meet the strict modern criteria for intellectuals. Moribund educational and research institutions and outmoded systems of personnel training and advancement have deprived Xinjiang of a true community of ethnic minority intellectuals. Whether the task is promoting social progress in Xinjiang, improving the lives of ethnic minorities, or advancing national identity and cohesion among minority elites, a highly qualified community of ethnic minority intellectuals is essential to the task. Allowing more ethnic minority intellectuals to enter the mainstream confers honor upon them and their communities, and that honor serves to strengthen their sense of national identity and cohesion.

Present-Day Ethnic Problems in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region: Overview and Recommendations (1)

By Ilham Tohti, translated by Cindy Carter, published: April 22, 2015
http://chinachange.org/2015/04/22/present-day-ethnic-problems-in-xinjiang-uighur-autonomous-region-overview-and-recommendations-1/

Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life in prison on separatism charges on September 23, 2014.

Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life in prison on separatism charges on September 23, 2014.

This article, a total of 24,000 words in Chinese, was first posted on the Daxiong Gonghui website after the Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti’s arrest in January, 2014. Daxiong Gonghui described the origin of the article in a note: “This document was written by Ilham Tohti, associate professor of economics at Minzu University of China (formerly Central Nationalities University), in response to a 2011 request from high-level officials in the Chinese government. Ilham Tohti made first-draft revisions to this document in October of 2013, but was unable to complete a final draft.” The post has since been censored and is only available elsewhere as a repost. I was able to confirm the origin and the authenticity of the article with Mr. Huang Zhangjin, the editor of the online Daxiong magazine. The translation will be posted in several installments for easy reading, and the entire article will be ready for download in a few days. – The Editor

Since Zhang Chunxian took office, a big push on Xianjiang policy by the Chinese central government and a series of initiatives by Zhang Chunxian himself have rekindled hope among ethnic population in Xiangjiang for the region’s future social stability and development prospects.[1] Furthermore, Zhang Chunxian has managed, in a very short period of time, to win high praise from local ethnic minority officials and intellectuals alike.

At present, the new administration in Xinjiang is relying on increased economic investment and improvements in citizens’ livelihoods to quell ethnic tensions. These policies will likely have a positive short-term effect, but because they do not address deep-seated problems, we cannot afford to be sanguine about Xinjiang’s future, nor can we be certain that violence will not erupt again. If the government is to win broad-based popular support and achieve genuine long-term peace and stability, it must promote further systemic and social adjustments.

To this end, I have prepared a simple list of nine issues affecting ethnic relations in Xinjiang. For each, I have included an overview of the present situation, causes and contributing factors, and proposed solutions.

I. Unemployment among Ethnic Minorities

Overview

Unemployment is a social issue that affects all regions of China, but Xinjiang’s unemployment problem tends to be concentrated among ethnic minorities. For Uighurs who migrate to the cities in search of work, employment opportunities are markedly limited, confined to a narrow band of service-industry jobs, mostly jobs in restaurants. There is a vast gap in employment opportunities available to different ethnic groups: Uighur and other ethnic-minority job applicants face significant employment discrimination. These factors, in turn, fuel resentment toward the government and toward the Han Chinese majority.

Because the factors driving urban and rural unemployment are so different, we can divide the employment issue in Xinjiang into two distinct facets: (1) unemployment among Uighur university graduates and (2) the rural labor surplus.

Unemployment among Uighur university graduates

According to official government data, only 17% of ethnic Uighur university students in Xinjiang manage to secure a full-time job by the time they graduate. This is far below the rate for ethnic Han Chinese university students. My own research reveals that the actual job-placement rate for Uighur university students approaching graduation is even lower, at less than 15%. The difficulty of finding work after graduation not only impoverishes ethnic-minority families who have sacrificed to send their children to university, it also contributes to the notion, widespread among Uighurs, that education is useless.

The rural labor surplus

The rural labor surplus in Xinjiang is a serious problem. The root cause of this excess rural labor force is lagging urbanization and industrialization in Uighur areas. In fact, the actual urbanization rate among the Uighur population is only about 10%.

Most of Xinjiang’s Uighur population is concentrated in the rural south, where the average amount of arable land per capita is less than one mu, or one-sixth of an acre. This sort of marginal existence and inescapable poverty not only bottles up vast reserves of surplus rural labor, it also gives rise to lawlessness and criminal behavior, making these areas potential breeding grounds for future threats to the social order. If this vicious cycle is allowed to continue, it may even bring about the collapse of southern Xinjiang’s fragile oasis ecosystem.

Causes

1. Given the absence or non-enforcement of national ethnic policies, the primary cause of employment difficulties among minority university students is blatant ethnic discrimination in hiring. Ethnic minorities are severely under-recruited for jobs in the civil service and in state-owned enterprises. Prior to the July 2009 ethnic unrest in Urumqi, many private-sector job advertisements openly stated that only Han Chinese applicants would be considered; some state-owned enterprises went so far as to recruit Han Chinese from other parts of mainland China, rather than hire local ethnic minorities. At some workplaces with no Uighur employees, Uighurs may be stopped by security guards and prevented from entering the premises. Severely curtailed employment prospects have given rise to an unusual phenomenon in Xinjiang: a craze for extracurricular foreign language training courses. Xinjiang’s ethnic minority university students are keener on studying foreign languages than students at top-tier universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University, because these students feel that their only hope lies in finding work in international trade, tourism, or overseas. Even the privileged classes are not immune to employment difficulties: one child of a high-ranking Xinjiang Uighur government official graduated from a prestigious mainland university and spent a year searching fruitlessly for work. It was only after securing a personal letter of introduction from Wang Lequan [then Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang] that the young graduate was finally able to secure a job.

2. A unique feature of Xinjiang’s natural geography is its desert archipelago of insular, isolated oases. Historically, there has been a vast gap in the amount of government investment given to these different geographical units. This is particularly true of the Uighur enclaves in Xinjiang’s south, where urbanization and industrialization lag far behind the Han Chinese-dominated “Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone.” (The “Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone,” situated at the northern foot of the Tianshan mountain range, is the most economically developed region of Xinjiang. This highly concentrated swath of productive forces forms the developmental core of Xinjiang’s modern industry, agriculture, telecommunications, education, science, information technology and other sectors. Home to over 83% of Xianjiang’s heavy industry and 62% of its light industry, favored with ample natural resources and robust urban and transportation infrastructure, the zone accounts for over 40% of Xinjiang’s gross domestic product.) Xinjiang’s south is geographically isolated; the Han Chinese cities in the north tend to exclude Uighurs; and when the surplus rural labor force in the south tries to flow into the Tianshan North Slope Economic Zone, it is met with restrictions. All these make it even more difficult for southern surplus rural labor to migrate to urban areas.

3. Severe underinvestment in basic education: there is a vast north-south disparity in educational investment in Xinjiang. Even in southern Xinjiang, one finds stark ethnic inequalities in the allocation of educational resources, particularly in the area of secondary schools. Whether in terms of fiscal investment or number of schools, the proportion of educational resources allocated to Uighur students is far below what it should be, given their percentage as a proportion of the local population. Moreover, the high school enrollment rate in southern Xinjiang is extremely low, due to the critical lack of investment in basic education: in large Uighur population centers such as Kuqa country and Shache [Yarkant] county, there is only one high school in each county offering Uighur-language instruction. As a result, average educational levels in Uighur communities in southern Xinjiang are extremely low, causing workers to be inadequately equipped for careers in modern agriculture or industry. The surplus rural labor supply spills into the cities, where migrants face severely limited job prospects, forcing them further afield into the interior to look for better opportunities.

4. Since the ethnic unrest of July 2009, nearly all of Xinjiang’s Uighur enclaves have been subject to the constant pressure of “stability maintenance” policies. Rural migrants to the northern city of Urumqi have been expelled in large numbers, and forced to return to their villages in the south. At the same time, local governments have adopted stringent limits on outward population migration, thus exacerbating the problem of rural employment.

Thoughts and Recommendations

The Uighur unemployment problem is the cumulative result of numerous long-term forces. As such, resolving the dilemma will require a broad-based approach and systematic long-term planning; it will not happen overnight. Simply pouring money from central government coffers into Xinjiang to create a slew of make-work jobs is not the right approach: not only would this prove an undue fiscal burden for the government, it would also transform the Uighur population into a people dependent upon handouts, engendering a sense of shame and inferiority.

I have the following thoughts on how the issue of unemployment should be addressed systematically:

1. Article 23 of the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the People’s Republic of China” expressly stipulates that ethnic minorities be given priority in hiring by government institutions and state-owned enterprises.[2] Even taking into consideration the practical difficulties of immediately implementing such a policy, steps should be taken to gradually expand Uighur employment opportunities and to phase in quotas for the hiring of ethnic minorities in the civil service and state-owned enterprises. At present, public services in Xinjiang suffer from a serious dearth of Uighur and other ethnic minority employees. Hospitals, post offices, banks, insurance companies, notaries, courts, municipal bureaus and other social service organizations are staffed mainly by Han Chinese who cannot speak Uighur, causing tremendous inconvenience to Uighur citizens in their daily lives.

2. The government should take an active role in promoting internal population migration in Xinjiang as a means of alleviating unemployment in the south and preventing further damage to the fragile southern ecosystem. For example, it could oversee a controlled and systematic transfer of a certain proportion of southern Xinjiang’s population to the northern industrial belt, or to farms managed by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). Instead of spending vast sums of labor and capital to organize rural migrant workers to culturally unfamiliar coastal cities thousands of kilometers away, the regional government should encourage rural-to-urban population shifts within Xinjiang’s borders. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), currently suffering from severe manpower shortages due to population drain, has tried all manner of methods to attract labor from other areas of mainland China, but it has done nothing to absorb the surplus rural labor force that exists in southern Xinjiang.

By taking an active role in organizing and guiding population shifts within Xinjiang, the government can alleviate unemployment in the south, while also reducing ethnic segregation and helping to dispel the notion, prevalent within the Uighur community, that the XPCC and the northern cities are being used by Han Chinese to deal with the Uighur population.

3. Provide more assistance to ethnic minority entrepreneurs. This is the most fundamental, long-term solution to Xinjiang’s unemployment problem, and it relies on market-based mechanisms rather than governmental supervision. Since Secretary Zhang Chunxian assumed office, there has been a noticeable improvement in Xinjiang’s level of assistance to ethnic minority entrepreneurs. I recommend broadening this approach to establish a long-term plan aimed at improving the modern management skills of ethnic minority entrepreneurs via exchanges with highly developed coastal regions and prestigious mainland Chinese universities, thus creating a long-term mechanism for the systematic training of minority entrepreneurs. Furthermore, we should foster closer cooperation between Han Chinese and ethnic minority entrepreneurs, encouraging them to bond together in their mutual interest. Having the government train and support a large contingent of minority entrepreneurs is the most convenient way to promote ethnic unity and harmony in Xinjiang.

One detail worth noting: the practice of prominently featuring minority entrepreneurs as speakers at government-organized ethnic unity rallies may not have the desired propaganda effect. Minority entrepreneurs should not be leveraged for government publicity: they have a far more important and effective role to play off the political stage.

4. Increase investment in basic education in minority-populated areas. The government has many long years of unfulfilled promises in this regard, but expanding access to basic education will transform minority peoples’ ability to adapt to industrialization and urbanization. In a mere five to ten years, we will begin to see a marked improvement. At the very least, better access to education will significantly reduce the barriers that ethnic minority migrants face when trying to enter the urban labor force. Now that the government has substantially increased investment in basic education in southern Xinjiang, there remain two problems that need to be addressed: countering the preconception that education is useless, and correcting misapprehensions and assuaging people’s fears about bilingual education.

5. Establish systematic professional and technical training for ethnic minority workers. Xinjiang suffers from a serious lack of ethnic minority professional and technical personnel, which makes it difficult for ethnic minorities to enter the technical and industrial workforce. Entrepreneurial skill is also in short supply to start businesses. I propose increasing training for early-career and mid-career specialists in fields suited to the unique economy of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, in which resource-oriented and state-owned enterprises predominate. For example, the government could work with vocational and technical schools to increase employment opportunities for ethnic minorities in the mining, textile, and agricultural-processing sectors. In fact, work on this has already begun, to positive feedback from Xinjiang’s Uighur community.

I also recommend that the Xinjiang Autonomous Region cooperate with localities in China’s more economically developed coastal regions to systematically train up a cohort of technically-proficient ethnic minority youth who will form Xinjiang’s future technological and entrepreneurial talent pool.

6. Establish brigades of ethnic minority industrial workers. Industrial workers are an essential component and driving force of industrial and economic development. They play a fundamental role in accelerating industrial transformation, promoting technological innovation, improving corporate competitiveness, and so on. Employers in Xinjiang are currently in need of a large number of industrial workers, but they face widespread difficulties in recruiting qualified personnel.

Training up and establishing brigades of ethnic minority industrial workers will help to expand employment opportunities and widen career horizons for minority university and polytechnic graduates. This, in turn, will increase the employment rate among ethnic minorities and help facilitate their adjustment to modern industrial society.

7. Leverage local and regional advantages to support the development of Xinjiang’s own cultural and creative industries. This would both raise employment and allow Xinjiang’s cultural influence to radiate across the Central Asian region. Targeted training and practical support would help creative entrepreneurs and small- and medium-size enterprises to expand into the broader Central Asian market. China’s information technology, animation, advertising and other creative sectors enjoy a distinct advantage in the Central Asia market region, but Han Chinese enterprises attempting to enter this market face tremendous cultural and linguistic barriers, whereas Uighur enterprises possess a natural advantage. By leveraging the technological strength of China’s other regions, it is entirely possible for Xinjiang to cultivate local cultural and creative industries with a strong competitive edge in Central Asia. This would allow Xinjiang’s ethnic minority populations to transform themselves from cultural importers to cultural exporters, an achievement of immeasurable importance.

Translator’s Notes:

[1] In April 2010, Zhang Chunxian was appointed Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, replacing Wang Lequan, whose divisive policies may have helped to fuel ethnic unrest in the region. Zhang Chunxian’s appointment was regarded by many as positive step toward defusing ethnic tensions in Xinjiang.

[2] The English text of Article 23 of the “Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law of the People’s Republic of China” reads: “When recruiting personnel in accordance with state regulations, enterprises and institutions in ethnic autonomous areas give priority to minority nationalities and may enlist them from the population of minority nationalities in rural and pastoral areas.”

Hada’s family members harassed by Chinese Internet police

Hada’s family members harassed by Chinese Internet police

SMHRIC
August 18, 2014
New York

Xinna and Uiles, wife and son of prominent Mongolian political prisoner Hada, were harassed by Chinese Internet police for “posting illegal contents” on “overseas Internet sites.

On August 15, 2014 around 10:00 AM Beijing Time, Ms. Xinna and Mr. Uiles, wife and son of the prominent Southern (Inner) Mongolian political prisoner Hada, were harassed by the Chinese Internet police for posting “illegal contents” on “overseas Internet sites”, according to a video clip the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC) received from Xinna.

Identifying themselves as “Chinese Internet security police”, at least 8 police personnel divided into two groups knocked down the door to their home and carried out the “warning”. No evidence was shown to support their accusation against Xinna.

“This happened this morning around 10:00 AM,” Xinna told SMHRIC in a Skype message, “before we took the video of those police, some of them harassed us and went back to their cars.”

An identification number of “012986” on his badge, the police head accused Xinna of posting illegal contents and threatened to carry out a “thorough investigation”.

Without opening the door, Uiles asked the police to identify themselves.

“What police are you?” Uiles asked.

“We are the Internet security police,” the police head answered.

“You are a police from China, right?” Uiles asked.

“Yes,” the police head replied.

“Then, how come you police an overseas internet website?” Uiles asked.

The police head was unable to show any evidence of “illegal contents” posted on overseas Internet sites but claimed that the posts have violated “relevant laws and regulations”.

According to Xinna’s statement posted on her Facebook page two days ago, she has received 422 repeated harassing text messages entitled “hu si ni” (“call to death” in English) on her two cell phones on August 12, 2014.

“I still continue to receive these harassing messages to both of my cell phones,” Xinna told SMHRIC, “I have no choice but to turn off my phone or turn them silent.”

Earlier last week, Xinna met the prominent Chinese lawyer Mo Shaoping in Hohhot, capital of Southern Mongolia, and discussed the possibility of having him represent Hada to file a lawsuit against the Chinese authorities for illegally imprisoning and detaining him even after he served the full prison term of 15 years.

On December 10, 1995 Hada was arrested at his home by the Chinese authorities for establishing the “Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance” (SMDA). Dozens of other members of the SMDA were also arrested and detained. Hada was later sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served his full prison term at the Inner Mongolia Jail No.4 at Chifeng City. During his 15 years of imprisonment, Hada repudiated every demand to declare his guilt. Without any valid legal justification, Hada remains imprisoned by the Chinese authorities at a secret prison in suburban Hohhot.

From December 3 to 5, 2010, the Inner Mongolia Public Security Bureau arrested Hada’s wife and son a week before his scheduled release. They shut down Xinna’s bookstore called the “Mongolian Studies Bookstore” and confiscated a large number of books and souvenirs. No search and seizure warrant was presented at the time. The seized materials have still not been returned. Xinna and Uiles were detained at Hohhot No.1 and No.3 Detention Centers respectively. Accused of “illegal drug possession”, Uiles was detained for about a year before he was placed under “residential surveillance” at his home. After being detained for 16 months, Xinna was sentenced to 3 years in jail with 5 years reprieve on a trumped up charge of “illegal business”.

“I thought they come up with some evidence. But they didn’t show up again,” Xinna wrote in her statement on Facebook, “I guess nothing good will happen next…possibly shutting down the Internet? Carrying out arrests? I don’t care about it any more. Life is no better than in prison to me anyway.”

SONG FOR MR. ILHAM TOHTI ( UNTIL YOU´RE HOME AGAIN )

ilham_tohti_05

On April 1, 2014, Tohti was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, an American human rights award given to writers anywhere in the world who fight for freedom of expression. According to the statement from PEN, Tohti, was “long harassed by Chinese authorities for his outspoken views on the rights of China’s Muslim Uyghur minority. Tohti represents a new generation of endangered writers who use the web and social media to fight oppression and broadcast to concerned parties around the globe. We hope this honor helps awaken Chinese authorities to the injustice being perpetrated and galvanizes the worldwide campaign to demand Tohti’s freedom.”

SONG FOR MR. ILHAM TOHTI
(UNTIL YOU´RE HOME AGAIN)

YOU POSSESS THE STRENGTH AND THE QUALITY
TO BRING THE CHANGE WE NEED
YOU DESERVE RESPECT AND EQUALITY
FOR FRIENDSHIP IS YOUR CREED

WHERE THERE´S LOVE
THERE IS LIGHT
OUR LAMPS AND CANDLES WILL BURN
UNTIL YOU RETURN
WHERE THERE ARE SKIES
WE WILL WRITE YOUR NAME
AND THAT´S WHERE YOU WILL REMAIN
UNTIL YOU´RE HOME AGAIN

ALL THE PAIN AND ALL THE MISERY
IT´S HARD TO UNDERSTAND
MAYBE IT ALL COMES DOWN TO SIMPLE JEALOUSY
BECAUSE YOU´RE AN HONEST MAN

WHERE THERE´S LOVE
THERE IS LIGHT
OUR LAMPS AND CANDLES WILL BURN
UNTIL YOU RETURN
WHERE THERE ARE SKIES
WE WILL WRITE YOUR NAME
AND THAT´S WHERE YOU WILL REMAIN
UNTIL YOU´RE HOME AGAIN

YOU SAW THEM COMING
BUT INSTEAD OF RUNNING
YOU OPENED UP YOUR DOOR
WE WON´T DESERT YOU
OF THAT YOU CAN BE SURE

WHERE THERE´S LOVE
THERE IS LIGHT
OUR LAMPS AND CANDLES WILL BURN
UNTIL YOU RETURN
WHERE THERE ARE SKIES
WE WILL WRITE YOUR NAME
AND THAT´S WHERE YOU WILL REMAIN
UNTIL YOU´RE HOME AGAIN

Letter From Birmingham Jail

Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King


Fifty-one (51) years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed an open letter from members of the Clergy of the city of Birmingham, Alabama that objected to the non-violent demonstrations taking place in their city.

He wrote about the conditions facing his people in the United States and stated:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

In the 21st century, the world is even smaller than it was 50 years ago and it is still true that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Today, the situation in the People’s Republic of China with regards to the minority populations is even worse than that addressed by Dr. King. Freedom to practice religion or speak openly and honestly does not exist. Discrimination in employment and housing is rampant while lifestyles and cultures that have been practiced for thousands of years are being eliminated through regulation, rules and laws.

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti

Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur college professor is one voice that has tried to bring people together and overcome the status quo that relegates second-class status to not only the Uyghur people, but Tibetans, Mongolians and all the other non-Han Chinese people. As Dr. King before, Ilham Tohti has attempted to work within the system for change; a change where every person is not judged by their ethnicity or background, but provided equal opportunities to advance and continue their lives and culture for the betterment of the entire country.

Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned that discrimination and acts of hatred against his people were the cause of extremism that spawned more violence and hatred, Ilham Tohti also warned about the draconian measures inflicted upon his people that was radicalizing them against the Han Chinese.

Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was jailed and harassed for thinking he could change the status quo, Ilham Tohti was arrested in January 2014 and has been held incommunicado since. While Dr. King had committed civil disobedience to wind up in jail, Mr. Tohti has not committed a crime, other than suggesting a brighter future for all the people of China.

Remember Ilham Tohti.

– – –
http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html
*AUTHOR’S NOTE: This response to a published statement by eight fellow clergymen from Alabama (Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter, Bishop Joseph A. Durick, Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman, Bishop Paul Hardin, Bishop Holan B. Harmon, the Reverend George M. Murray. the Reverend Edward V. Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings) was composed under somewhat constricting circumstance. Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me. Although the text remains in substance unaltered, I have indulged in the author’s prerogative of polishing it for publication.

——————————————————————————–

LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL
April 16, 1963
MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here In Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants — for example, to remove the stores humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves : “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-off we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken .in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor. will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may want to ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I-it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression ‘of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.

Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to ace the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.

I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this ‘hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At fist I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self-respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do-nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle.

If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble-rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black-nationalist ideologies a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides–and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist.

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime—the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some—such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle—have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach-infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation.

Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a non segregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative .critics who can always find. something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of Rio shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader era; an too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious. irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, on Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Par from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it vi lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom, They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jai with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham, ham and all over the nation, because the goal of America k freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation-and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handing the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit-inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. There will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. There will be the old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy-two-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” There will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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