Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Window on Eurasia: China Could Suffer Same Fate as USSR, Uyghur Leader Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 28 – The people of Hong Kong, together with the peoples of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Republic and Tibet, are fighting for their independence, Rabiya Kadir, a leader of the Uyghur national movement says, and if one succeeds so too will the others and thus “it is not excluded that in a short time China will suffer the fate of the USSR.”


            That possibility helps explain both the nervousness of Beijing about what is happening in all three and its use of violence especially in Xinjiang where its agents can present what is going on as being about “Islamist violence” rather than a national liberation struggle, she told Kazakhstan’s “ADAM bol” magazine (fergananews.com/articles/8287).


            In recent weeks, Kadir says, the situation of the Uyghurs in Xinjiant has become truly “unbearable.”  Members of that nationality are prohibited from speaking their own language or practicing their own religion. The Chinese military is omnipresent just as the Russian military is in southeastern Ukraine.


            Disappearances organized by the authorities are becoming more common. Uyghurs are denied legal aid, and the situation has become so dire that “mothers are afraid to allow their children to play in the streets. The Uyghurs are suffering to an unprecedented degree, and the Chinese authorities are ignoring all appeals to stop.


            Most of the violence in Xinjiang consists of provocations organized by the authorities, she continues, but some of it is genuine and reflects the despair to which the Uyghurs and others have been driven. “We do not consider this terrorism. Like the Ukrainians, we are attempting to defend our independence and free ourselves from the colonial oppression of China.”


            The “real extremists,” she argues, are the Chinese officials, not Uyghur activists who have tried again and again to advance their cause by peaceful means.


            China seeks to link the Uyghur struggle with Al-Qaeda in order to try to present what it is doing to the West as being part of a common struggle against Islamist terrorism, but Beijing’s arguments are without foundation, although they have allowed China to engage in unprecedented violations of human rights.


            Kabia notes that “unthinkable things” have happened with Muslims in Xinjiang. The Chinese have transformed mosques into places for swine, they have forced imams to burn the Koran on the streets, and they have prohibited young people from attending services, all things copied from the Soviet past.


            If Beijing does not change course and it will do so only if the West puts pressure on China – otherwise, she says, “China will view the absence of international attention as ‘a green light’ and increase its crackdown on the Uyghurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong” – then the future is bleak indeed, first for these peoples and then for China itself.


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