Today, I leave the words in this blog into the hands of a fellow human being that is trying to make the world aware of the discrimination and abuse against the 11 million Uyghurs living in East Turkistan by the People’s Republic of China.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any organizations.
Dear Mr. President:
After months of bewilderment I have found it necessary to write this letter. Meanwhile, my conscience also forced me to write this open letter on behalf of eleven millions Uyghurs in East Turkistan. Although I am well aware that you have quite a tight schedule I sincerely hope that you will be able to read this. As a foreign woman living in the US over this past year, I have developed a sense of freedom and security I never felt in my home country. I have spent countless hours speaking for those who have no voice and I feel a responsibility to share the personal atrocities of eleven million Uyghurs of East Turkistan, as seen from my own personal experiences. As you may know, Uyghurs are a Turkic speaking Muslim population living under the rule of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Those of Uyghurs face political imprisonment, mosque closures, torture, disappearances, banning of native languages in schools and executions for political and religious offenses.
The majority of these eleven million Uyghurs live in an area which makes up one sixth of the entire territory of China, and since 1955 has been widely known as Xinjiang (aka Sinkiang) Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR; N.B. Although it has a well-known historical name, the term East Turkistan is strictly prohibited in China). Since military occupation by the PRC in 1949 this area has served as the largest producer of oil, natural gas and underground natural resource revenue for the PRC, in addition it is known to be the only nuclear weapons testing site in China. The Chinese government claims the area has been a part of China since God created the earth. For this reason, any ideas or acts associated with the term of “East Turkistan” are considered one of the most serious political crimes against China.
Although I arrived in your country less than a year ago, I have learned so much during my time here. I have learned the true meaning of freedom and most importantly I can now comprehended how humans should live, how they should be treated and what rights they should possess. It is unfortunate that I never understood these things until I stepped foot on this, “land of freedom.” I still recall the day I entered the US quite clearly, my perceptions of the US had been jaded by years of anti-democratic propaganda. On my first day of elementary school in my Chinese hometown during the 1980s, we were taught that the capitalist world was hell and that our socialist country was incomparable with being a paradise of the universe. Growing up under the shadow of the red flag, we cultivated a fervent enthusiasm towards Marxism. Having been inspired by this worldview, I joined the CCP during my college years. However, since graduating from the college, what I’ve seen and heard things about my home country that has increased my doubt towards the CCP and its “most righteous” policies against the Uyghurs people. We we’re told that there was a small group of “ethnic separatists” who attempted to destroy our “paradise” by conducting “terrorism” against our socialist country. I remember that in the 2000s, all home media began to report similar trends, saying anti-government “terrorist” activities were largely instigated and supported by western enemy countries like the US. One particular example of media fabrication verses what really happened occurred on July 5, 2009 in Urumchi, the capital of XUAR. As one of the thousands of eyewitnesses on the street that day, I saw exactly what was happening and the aftermath of protest and how what I saw differed very much from how the media portrayed it. They we’re not terrorist fighting against China but real people fighting for their rights.
After my arrival in the US I was able to unearth thousands of “public secrets” about China which were completely unknown to me when I was living in China. More importantly, upon arriving here I realized that the majority of the US citizens were undeniably unaware of what was going on in East Turkistan, where Uyghurs unprecedentedly suffer from the fascistic national policies of the CCP.
When the XUAR was established in 1955, the Uyghurs were promised full autonomy to be given by the Chinese government. However, the later reality clearly showed that promises uttered were only a political hoax. Until today, the Uyghurs had little chance to approach the content of the term “autonomy.” The only presence of autonomy lies in the printed Chinese constitution, not within real life. Up to this point the entire XUAR and Uyghur population have never been given any actual political rights. The autonomy law was granted by central government in the late 1950s but has never been carried out, any autonomy that exists in XUAR only does so on paper. Within China’s communist regime all administrative units must be instructed by the CCP, all types of autonomous authorities in East Turkistan led by ethnic Uyghurs must be organized to unconditionally obey the correspondent branches of the CCP, which are utterly administrated by Han Chinese. In this way, so-called “autonomy” rights of the Uyghurs have been sacrificed by the CCP, consolidating China’s direct rule in East Turkistan. Any individual who point out violations of the PRC constitution and the Law of Autonomy are labeled as “anti-state political enemy.” This prevents citizens from asking questions regarding the matters. People must live in fear that anything they say can be used against them; the brutal political environment in which they live prevents their freedom of speech. All ethnic Uyghurs lack any methods to express their opinions regarding reasons and solutions towards their existing social and political problems. Uyghur intellectuals who sought to protect the Uyghurs’ legal rights granted by the constitution of the PRC immediately become the target of political slander. The recent illegal arrest of Ilham Tohti, a Beijing-based Uyghur scholar who has been an outspoken advocate for China’s Uyghur minority group, is an example of such state terrorism. Meanwhile, fully armed state forces crack down on citizens’ legal granted right to protest freely; all public protest by Uyghurs is considered an anti-state public movement. With my own eyes and ears I have seen how the Uyghur’s population lacks ways to express their thoughts and discontent without being persecuted and punished by the PRC. This causes them to adopt violent actions, like attacking the local police stations out of frustration.
Mr. President, when the XUAR was established in 1955 the Chinese population accounted for about three hundred thousand people in total, making up about 4% of the entire population of East Turkistan. At present this number has grown to ten million, making it half of the entire population of the area. This population boom was a direct result of a PRC planned human migration policy from inner China to East Turkistan over the past six decades. Based on the current human migration patterns and characteristics, this number seemed to be increasing. Forced to be strangers in their homeland, many Uyghurs are becoming victims of mass scale human migration that aims at the complete assimilation of local Turkic Muslims. The Chinese government continuously considers the existence of the Uyghur, as a threat to China’s further economic exploitation and the central government is actively carrying out an invisible plan to wipe out Uyghurs as an ethnic group. For this particular purpose the Uyghur language became the first step of the aforementioned state conspiracy. Subsequently, an assimilationist “bilingual education” has widely been implemented beginning in kindergarten and continuing through the higher education system, where the expansion of the ultimate dominance of the Chinese language and culture was set as the final goal, excluding even the minimal use of the Uyghur language. Despite relevant articles of the PRC constitution, which grant the rights of minorities to freely practice their mother tongue both academically and socially; authorities have publicly violated this law with deeming Chinese as the official language.
Under the current political regime, however, any citizens who reminds authorities of such violations shall be considered a state enemy, further preventing people from talking about the topic. The recent arrest of Mr. Abduweli Ayup, an outstanding promoter of the Uyghur language in the XUAR, is a horrible example of what can happen when one speaks out against the Chinese government. His family has been forbidden to know his whereabouts, and when family members found out that he was very sick and wanted to send money and medicine to him they we’re denied. He was arrested after being accused of collecting donations to create Uyghur run schools; a man who was running a Uyghur-language kindergarten and is now being persecuted for taking pride in his national identity.
One of the most extraordinary personal experiences I have faced by coming to the US is learning English in order to gain basic life skills to live. I have learned the native language so that I may communicate in daily activities however, in East Turkistan millions of Han Chinese emigrants force the indigenous Uyghur people to learn Chinese. How is it fair to ask generations of native people to change their language so that it may suit the needs of people and a government that has forced itself there?
One of the most serious results of such chauvinist national policy appears significantly in the increased unemployment rate among Uyghur youths, who have been forced to switch from their native tongue to Chinese. Although many Uyghurs are willing to adhere to the language change, the constitution specifically grants them the right save their cultural identity. The Chinese government uses language barriers as an excuse for not hiring Uyghur students; yet another way to persecute and ridicule the Uyghur people. Discrimination of Uyghur people is prevalent throughout the state, public posters that clearly state, “no Uyghurs,” shows how deeply such ethnic discrimination is. As a result, the aboriginal residents of the largest energy sources in China are being marginalized by chauvinist national policies of the CCP, while the rich natural resources of East Turkistan are freely transporting billions of dollars to China proper every year. The Uyghur people are becoming strangers in their own homeland and are suffering from unemployment; remaining the poorest ethnic minority group in China. Though the financial investment of the Chinese government launched under the name of “western development” project was less than one hundredth of what the CCP has exploited from East Turkistan annually, those investments were merely beneficial to the Han Chinese who are living and de facto ruling East Turkistan as outsiders. The indigenous Turkic inhabitants do not find these investments helpful since the majority of money supports functions on behalf of Han Chinese immigrants’ life improvements in East Turkistan.
Any outsider visiting East Turkistan will notice signs prohibiting religious activities by Uyghur people. The Chinese government, persistently believes that the major existence of Uyghur identity lies in their religious beliefs, actively carry out anti-religious campaigns in order to assimilate Uyghurs into the Chinese belief system. The PRC constitution clearly states that rights of all people to freely practice religion; however, in reality anyone practicing a different religious belief will be punished.
People such as, Prof. Ilham Tohti, have become the victims of cruel state terrorism because of their outspoken behavior against abuse religious rights of minority groups. Currently, people are not allowed to dress in traditional Uyghur dress; wearing headscarves and growing beards or moustaches are considered religious extremism. In order to prohibit students from fasting during the Islam holiday of Ramadan, students are forced to eat school provided lunches; violators are punished, expelled from school regardless of age. The anti-constitutional behavior used by the Chinese government aims at just one goal: discouraging Uyghur youth from sticking to their traditional religious beliefs.
Mr. President, as you already aware, the majority of Uyghurs are Sunni Muslims, making themselves one of the largest Muslim ethnic groups in China. However, the Uyghur Muslims are not terrorists as being demonized by the Chinese government. In fact, all Uyghurs are pro-America, considering the US people as their close friends. The reason is very simple: for eleven million Uyghurs the US is the protector of the global peace, taking the key role for growth and development of democracy, human rights, and social justice. Like the American people, the Uyghurs love human equality and peace. If the political, ethnic and religious sorrows of the Uyghurs had happened to any other ethnic groups in the world, they wouldn’t have endured six decades of persecution. Only after the September 11th attacks, has the Chinese government launched its own “war on terror”, labeling the Uyghurs as “terrorists”. Beautifying its ethnic crackdown against the Uyghurs as part of the international anti-terror war, the CCP is punishing Uyghur elites who directly or indirectly speak out against the government implemented cultural and religious policies. The aim by the Chinese government is to destroy the various rights of minority groups who speak against them. Any negative feedback of the Uyghur intellectuals toward the existed social, economic and cultural problems are being considered as the “intention of splitting the socialist country”, making them the primary targets of the state punishment. Any sorts of peaceful demonstrations by Uyghurs demanding social justice develops crackdown by the authorities deeming them as an anti-state collective ethnic movement. In this way the Uyghurs people are the ultimate victims of the state terrorism by the CCP. Like many minority groups throughout world, the Uyghurs feel that resorting to violence is the only way to reach their goals and defend their rights. Because China strictly controls the media, the outside world only hears China’s side of the story and, because some Uyghur organizations are labeled as terrorist groups, the international community often sides with China without taking the time to understand the other side of the conflict. Current resistance of the Uyghurs against the Chinese regime in East Turkistan is completely caused by the chauvinist political, social, economic and cultural policies of the CCP that are remnant of similar policies by Nazi Germany during the World War II. The Uyghurs only seek the most basic human rights. The local inhabitants of East Turkistan who are presently serving as the principal energy source of China have deeply realized that the constitutional promised “autonomy” turned out as “paper autonomy”; the entire native populations have become “prisoners” in their own country, facing ultimate poverty and death. Living in such unprecedented fascistic political environment, how must the Uyghurs express their gratitude toward the tyrannical government? The Uyghurs proverb, “Rather than dying in silence, die in breaking the silence,” guides them in their fight. For this reason, the Uyghurs are being forced to stand up against a dictatorial government. The extremely terrifying fact is that under these current circumstances Uyghurs, are unfairly demonized by the CCP as “terrorists.”
Mr. President, I ask that under the aforementioned political, national, economic and cultural dictatorship of the CCP, eleven million Uyghurs must find a way to survive as the human beings. The CCP depicts China’s ethnic genocide as a way to protect national security, while portraying ethnic Uyghur’s as resistance movement of terrorism. Preserving ones ethnic and national identity is not an act of terrorism but heroism; it is unfortunate that many do not have the strength to make their voices heard. For those who do try to speak must fear of imprisonment or death. To be honest, the Uyghur currently seek hope and support from the outside democratic world, mainly led by the United States. Personally, I hope that a leader from the paradise of democracy and social justice, will help to bring pressure upon the CCP’s anti-human, anti-culture, and anti-religious despotic policy during your future bilateral meetings with Chinese leaders. I sincerely hope that you and your administration may distinguish facts from fiction in regards to the so-called Uyghur “terrorists.” The natives of East Turkistan have been forced to stand up against the fascistic policies of the CCP and should be treated with the respect they deserve.
Gulnur Osman (aka Gulinuer Wusiman)
February 26, 2014