Category Archives: Eastern Turkestan

RFA: Xinjiang Authorities Holding Hundreds From Kyrgyz Village in ‘Political’ Re-education Camps

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are holding around one-fifth of the residents of a village in the region’s Kizilsu Kirghiz (in Chinese, Kezileisu Keerkezi) Autonomous Prefecture in “political” re-education camps, according to officials.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in re-education camps throughout Xinjiang, where members of the ethnic groups have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

An ethnic Kyrgyz officer at the Charlong Township Police Station, in Kizilsu Kirghiz’s Akto (Aketao) county, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that hundreds of residents of the town’s Payiz village—a Kyrgyz-populated area of more than 1,500 people—have been sent to the camps.

“There are more than 300 … they are all Kyrgyz people,” said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

more

RFA: Xinjiang Authorities Arrest Leading Kyrgyz Historian For ‘Undecided’ Crime

Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have arrested a leading Kyrgyz historian for an as of yet “undecided” crime after he published dozens of articles and several books examining the golden era of his ethnic group’s history, according to official sources.

Askar Yunus, a 49-year-old researcher at the History Research Department of the Academy of Social Sciences of Xinjiang, was taken into custody late last month from his home in the regional capital Urumqi, a staff member from the institution told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We were informed at a meeting,” the staff member said, adding that “there are some problems with him.”

The staff member conceded that he was unsure of why Yunus was detained because his crime “hasn’t been decided yet,” without providing further information.

A staff member at the academy’s Discipline Inspection Office, who also declined to be named, confirmed that Yunus had been arrested, but said he was unsure of the details of his case and referred questions about what he had done wrong to the History Research Department.

According to biographical information found online and his colleagues, Yunus’s work over the past 26 years covered the ethnic history of the XUAR and Central Asia, with a focus on that of the Kyrgyz people.

A member of the Chinese Intellectual Foreign Affiliation Society and the Xinjiang History Association, Yunus had published more than 40 articles and several books about the Kyrgyz from the 19th century onwards, as well as relations between Kyrgyzstan and China and their impact on the region now known as the XUAR.

more

Statement by Concerned Scholars on China’s Mass Detention of Turkic Minorities

Statement by Concerned Scholars on China’s Mass Detention of Turkic Minorities

November 26, 2018

As concerned scholars who study China, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Central Asia, and other related regions of the world, we issue this statement to highlight our concerns and to call the international community to action in relation to the mass human rights abuses and deliberate attacks on indigenous cultures presently taking place in China’s XUAR. The signatories to this statement are united in viewing the present situation in this region of China as one of significant international concern. This situation must be addressed to prevent setting negative future precedents regarding the acceptability of any state’s complete repression of a segment of its population, especially on the basis of ethnicity or religion.

more

UHRP: Time to end business as usual: The global response to the Uyghur concentration camps in China

UHRP BRIEFING

Time to end business as usual: The global response to the Uyghur concentration camps in China

November 28, 2018

UHRP calls on governments, Muslim leaders, companies, and academic institutions to end business as usual with the government of China, at a time when it is expanding concentration camps for Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim groups. UHRP asks governments and businesses to think about the judgment of history, and take urgent action.

Governments

UHRP supports the U.S. Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018 and urges governments around the world to pass similar legislation. UHRP further urges governments to:

  • Call on China to immediately close the concentration camps in East Turkestan and release over one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Turkic Muslim people who are being held secret indefinite detention.
  • Condition bilateral and multilateral agreements with China on the closure of the concentration camps and release of all those in detention.
  • Impose sanctions on the Chinese government and Party officials responsible for the ongoing crimes against humanity.
  • Impose sanctions on Chinese and international companies complicit in this crime, including the equipment and technology used in the massive archipelago of secret detention centers and the total-surveillance police-state throughout the Uyghur Region.
  • Initiate a UN Security Council agenda item regarding the largest detention of a targeted ethno-religious group since the founding of the United Nations.
  • Investigate and enforce domestic law to protect citizens and asylum seekers who are Uyghur from constant harassment, threats, coercion, and reprisals by Chinese security agencies.
  • Publicly affirm a policy of never deporting Uyghur refugees and asylum seekers to China.
  • Expedite Uyghur political asylum and refugee applications.
  • Prioritize humanitarian acceptance of stateless and at-risk Uyghur refugees currently exposed to reprisals or deportation in third countries.

Muslim Voices

  • UHRP urges governments and civil society leaders in Muslim communities to make their voices heard in support of the fundamental rights of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in East Turkestan. Muslim voices are urgently needed to call for the closure of the concentration camps; the release of detained religious scholars, imams, intellectuals, and all detainees; and restoration of thousands of mosques that have been shuttered, bulldozed, or converted to entertainment centers in cities, towns and villages.

Business

  • UHRP calls upon Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Heinz, Campbell Soup, Oracle, Thermo Fisher, and all international companies, to cease operations and sales in East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) as long as the Regional Government continues to operate concentration camps and total-control measures of collective punishment, including separating children from their living parents and other relatives.
  • As a matter of political-risk transparency, they should disclose whether any of their operations have assisted the government policy of total control and persecution of Uyghurs from all walks of life; whether any of their employees have disappeared or been detained; and what they have done in response.

Academia

  • UHRP urges universities, publishing houses, and exchange programs of all kinds to consider the judgment of history in their dealings with the Chinese government. It is time to suspend exchanges and cooperation with government institutions as long as the government continues to implement a campaign of eradication of the Uyghur people and operation of concentration camps holding a million or more Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims.
  • The Statement by Concerned Scholars on China’s Mass Detention of Turkic Minorities, issued November 26, 2018, provides global leadership and an important blueprint for further action.

RFA: Chinese Muslim Poet Held, Questioned Over Religious Freedom Tweet

Authorities in the eastern province of Shandong have detained and questioned a Hui Muslim poet after he tweeted about growing religious oppression under the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Poet Cui Haoxin — known by his pen name An Ran — was detained by state security police in the provincial capital Jinan on Tuesday, and questioned about a tweet about the suppression of religious freedom in China.

“Chinese religions and traditional culture were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Then the morality disappeared,” read Cui’s tweet sent on Oct. 27.

“Now Chinese communists begin to strike the religions again,” he wrote.

According to a transcript of the interview posted to Cui’s Twitter account, police wanted to know his aim in writing such a thing on Twitter, which is blocked in China in the absence of circumvention tools to evade government censorship.

“Police ordered me to delete my Twitter account,” Cui tweeted after his release. “I rejected them and said [social media] accounts [are] personal property.”

more

RFA: China Threatens Retaliation if US Applies Sanctions Over Uyghur Rights Abuses in Xinjiang


China’s Ambassador to the U.S. has threatened retaliation if Washington sanctions Beijing over human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), drawing condemnation from observers who say officials responsible for the violations must be held to account for their actions.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political re-education camps throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith—chair and co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Committee (CECC)—have said they plan to introduce the Xinjiang Uygur Human Rights Act, which would “direct U.S. resources to address gross violations of universally recognized human rights, including the mass internment of over a million Uyghurs and other predominately Muslim ethnic minorities in China and the intimidation and threats faced by U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Ambassador Cui Tiankai told Reuters news agency that China is working to “re-educate” terrorists and should not be punished for what he suggested is a more humane approach to counter-terrorism.

“We are trying to re-educate most of them, trying to turn them into normal persons [who] can go back to normal life,” Cui said.

Cui warned that Beijing would retaliate in kind if any sanctions were placed on Chinese officials.

“If such actions are taken, we have to retaliate,” Cui said, without providing details about China’s possible response.
more

RFA: Elderly Former Editor of Uyghur Publishing House Jailed Over ‘Problematic’ Books, Speech

The oldest of more than a dozen staff members arrested after their Uyghur-run publishing house in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) released “problematic” books has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, despite a serious health condition, according to sources.

At least 14 staff members of Kashgar Publishing House in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city have been arrested since last year, a source with ties to the region recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In addition to Kashgar Publishing House’s current deputy editor-in-chief, a 30-year veteran editor, and two former editors-in-chief, the source said that 80-year-old Haji Mirzahid Kerimi, a former editor for the company and celebrated poet, was sentenced to 11 years in prison because he wrote five books that were later blacklisted by the government and delivered a “problematic” speech during an award ceremony for his poetry.

The arrests are part of a “sweeping campaign” in the XUAR since the beginning of 2017 to censor literature based on political content, the source said, with sensitive books being categorized as “dangerous” or “problematic,” and anyone deemed responsible for publishing them targeted for detention.

An officer at Kashgar’s Naisheng district police department told RFA he was aware that Kerimi had been found guilty, but said his case “doesn’t come under our jurisdiction” and was unsure of the length of his sentence.

more

RFA: Award-Winning Chinese Photographer Detained in Xinjiang: Wife


Authorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang have detained an award-winning documentary photographer who was on a trip there, his wife has said.

Lu Guang, 57, has been missing, presumed detained since Nov. 3, while he was in the regional capital Urumqi, Lu’s wife Xu Xiaoli said.

Xu said via her Twitter account late on Monday that Lu had been invited by a friend to Urumqi on Oct. 23, and had later traveled to Kashgar, in the south of the region, on Oct. 31.

But his family lost contact with Lu after he returned to Urumqi on the night of Nov. 3, and Xu later learned that her husband and a fellow photographer had been taken back to Kashgar by Chinese state security police, according to a statement pinned to her Twitter account.

Xu declined to comment further when contacted by RFA on Tuesday.

“Everything I know is in my statement, so there is nothing more to say,” she said. “There has been no news. I have made a lot of calls to Xinjiang, to numbers I found online, but no one is picking up.”

An employee who answered the phone at the Kashgar police department declined to comment in the absence of a missing persons report.

“His family would need to report him missing to the local police department, and then it would be up to them to keep you informed,” the employee said.

more

RFA: Veteran Editor of Uyghur Publishing House Among 14 Staff Members Held Over ‘Problematic Books’

A 30-year veteran editor is among more than a dozen staff members arrested after their Uyghur-run publishing house in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) released books deemed “problematic” because of improper political content, according to sources.

At least 14 staff members of Kashgar Publishing House in the XUAR’s Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city have been arrested since last year, a source with ties to the region recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In addition to Kashgar Publishing House’s current deputy editor-in-chief and two former editors-in-chief, the source said that 60-year-old Memetjan Abliz Boriyar, who worked as a manager and editor at the company since 1987, was taken into custody in early October because he had approved the release of more than 100 books that were later blacklisted by the government.

The arrests are part of a “sweeping campaign” in the XUAR since the beginning of 2017 to censor literature based on political content, the source said, with sensitive books being categorized as “dangerous” or “problematic,” and anyone deemed responsible for publishing them targeted for detention.

more

Ilham Tohti Deserves to be a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Ilham Tohti

Despite knowing the consequences for his actions, Professor Tohti still advocated for a lasting, peaceful relationship between the Han Chinese and the Uyghur people.
He spoke about ending the poverty of the people in Xinjiang (East Turkestan.)
He spoke about ending the restrictions on religious observance.
He spoke about ending the crackdown on Turkic peoples.
He spoke about the rights guaranteed under China’s constitution.
He spoke about Han and Uyghur living together in peace and harmony.
He was jailed and sentenced to life in prison.

This is a call to action to support the recognition of Ilham Tohti’s efforts to bring the people of China together and show the Chinese authorities we support the bridge he tried to build between people.

While online petitions and forms do make voices heard, a physical letter from constituents has a greater impact. Please take the opportunity to copy the text below or use your own words to call for non-partisan support for Ilham Tohti to be the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
The following link will provide the means to find the address of your Representative and Senators in the US Congress (and in most cases, an email address as well):
https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

###
The Honorable (name)
Address

Sir / Madame,
I am writing this letter to urge you to support Ilham Tohti’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.
A college professor at a government university, Ilham Tohti peacefully advocated for the rights guaranteed under the Chinese constitution; Chinese authorities sentenced him to life in prison.

Ilham Tohti spoke about poverty and how it could be overcome,
Ilham Tohti decried the crackdown against the Uyghur people and asked for change,
Ilham Tohti embraced friendship among all China’s people,
Ilham Tohti spoke about his rights under the constitution of the People’s Republic of China,
Ilham Tohti knew what his fate would be and that did not sway him from his goal of peace and friendship.

Please support Ilham Tohti’s nomination to be a Nobel Peace laureate and do not let his sacrifice be in vain. Ilham Tohti’s bravery and determination for peace and harmony embodies the ideals of the Nobel Peace prize.

Sincerely,