- Pubblicato Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018 21:51
Gulnar Obul in Kashgar
At least four Uyghur senior officials from a top university in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), have been removed from their posts for “two-faced” activities, according to official sources.
A Uyghur source with ties to Kashgar University, who is currently living in exile, informed RFA’s Uyghur Service recently on condition of anonymity that the school’s president Erkin Omer, vice president Muhter Abdughopur, and professors Qurban Osman and Gulnar Obul, had all been scrubbed from its official website as of Sept. 2.
A further investigation of the website found an official news report which said that a decision was made to expel the four professors based on “a comprehensive probe” and “serious consideration” of their cases during a Sept. 2 meeting of high-level cadres at Kashgar University led by a disciplinary committee from the XUAR Education Supervision Bureau.
The report said that the four were sacked based on indications that they exhibited “separatist tendencies” related to their political stance, although it did not state what their exact offenses were, or how they were punished.
While the four professors’ bios had been removed from the Kashgar University website, articles attributed to them remained accessible via other university websites.
RFA contacted a staff member at Kashgar University’s administration office, who confirmed that the four professors had all been removed from their posts.
“Erkin Omer, Muhtar, Kurban [and] Gulnar … were all ‘two-faced,” the staffer said, using a term applied by the government to Uyghur cadres who pay lip service to Communist Party rule in the XUAR, but secretly chafe against state policies repressing members of their ethnic group.
The staffer said that he was unsure whether they are currently at home or detained in the network of political “re-education camps” authorities in the XUAR have detained Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in since April 2017.
“There is some additional information I know, but I’m unable to tell you,” he said.
“You can come to visit us and we can organize a meeting with the lecturers and leaders.”
The staffer said that while the school had found a new vice president, “the new president has not been appointed yet.”
Since new leadership had been appointed at the school “all tasks are being attended to thoroughly and the university is managing very well,” the staffer added.
During a telephone interview, an official in Kashgar who also asked to remain unnamed told RFA that Obul had been detained for publishing an article about Uyghur culture and history that included her opinions on religious extremism in 2016.
The official said that while her views were praised at the time, they were now deemed to “go against government policy,” and that “for this reason, she was accused of being ‘two-faced.’”
The article, titled “Dialogue on Cultural Formation in Xinjiang,” contains excerpts of a discussion between Obul and Wang Lisheng, a professor with the Economic Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in China’s capital Beijing.
“It is … impossible to put all the problems [in the XUAR] into a large basket of extreme religious forces,” Obul said, according to the article.
“When a person can't find his roots of his national culture, his thoughts become confused and he can't find where he belongs, and he will be pushed away by the forces of social customs,” she adds.
“This is actually related to a lack of cultural confidence … [and] reminds us that it is really time to think seriously about our cultural identity. As a part of the Chinese national culture, Uyghur culture has a complete set of cultural traditions that have a long history which need to be categorized and passed on.”
Obul also questions Beijing’s efforts at creating “long-term stability” in the XUAR, saying “it cannot be achieved through documents or commands—it requires real cultural strength and ideas” to remove resistance to China’s rule of the region.
“One of the drawbacks of the government is that many of the officials [in the XUAR] do not know much about Islam and its history,” she says.
“During the transformation of contemporary thought, Uyghur intellectuals were left out of the movement.”
Erkin Omer in Kashgar
Last week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. government was "deeply troubled" by the crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, adding that “credible reports indicate that individuals sent by Chinese authorities to detention centers since April 2017 numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions.”
The official warned that “indiscriminate and disproportionate controls on ethnic minorities’ expressions of their cultural and religious identities have the potential to incite radicalization and recruitment to violence.”
A group of U.S. lawmakers, in a recent letter, asked President Donald Trump’s administration to “swiftly act” to sanction Chinese government officials and entities complicit in or directing the “ongoing human rights crisis” in Xinjiang.
The position of China's central government authorities has evolved from denying that large numbers of Uyghurs have been incarcerated in camps to disputing that the facilities are political re-education camps. Beijing now describes the camps as educational centers.
Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the re-education camps, which equates to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.
Uyghur educators are kept under strict monitoring in the XUAR and can face stiff punishment for not adhering to Beijing’s narrative about how China’s central government’s policies are benefitting the region and its ethnic minorities.
In September 2014, a court sentenced outspoken economics professor Ilham Tohti, who regularly highlighted the religious and cultural persecution of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority in the XUAR, to a life term behind bars on charges of promoting separatism.
The court decision cited Tohti’s criticism of Beijing’s ethnic policies, his interviews with overseas media outlets, and his work founding and running the Chinese-language website Uighurbiz.net, which was shut down by Chinese authorities in 2014.
But rights groups say that instead of urging the separation of the XUAR—the Uyghur people’s historic homeland—from China, Tohti had called only for China to implement its own regional autonomy laws and had consistently promoted peace and dialogue between the Han Chinese and Uyghur communities, and have demanded his release.
- Pubblicato Sabato, 25 Agosto 2018 11:19
The building, constructed as a regular prison, will have extensive secret underground facilities and is planned to accommodate at least 10,000 inmates.
“Construction of the relocated Karamay city prison” written on the gate to the site
According to informed sources, the municipal government of Karamay, Xinjiang has put other construction projects on hold to speed up the building of a detention facility located at the Ayi Kule Reservoir on the western outskirts of Karamay, to be completed in October. The facility is only five meters above the ground but goes 40 meters below it, which is kept secret. According to plans, the facility will accommodate over 10,000 prisoners.
According to reports, as the Xinjiang authorities continue mass arrests and imprisonment of Muslims and other religious adherents and dissidents, “transformation through education” camps have become overcrowded; according to some scholars one million of Muslims are held there.
As Bitter Winter has reported earlier, state-owned buildings, like hospitals, factories, and schools have been converted into secret detention facilities. At some of the camps, detainees are forced to share beds and take turns sleeping due to the overcrowding. The Xinjiang authorities are expending every effort to construct the new secret prison to accommodate more detained people.
View of the underground prison with watchtowers
- Pubblicato Giovedì, 23 Agosto 2018 00:00
The Trump administration deported a former Nazi labor camp guard to Germany early Tuesday, the White House said in a statement.
Jakiw Palij, 95, had been living in Queens, New York, for years after lying to U.S. immigration officials about his role in World War II. His U.S. citizenship was revoked in 2003 and he was ordered deported the following year, but countries including Germany refused to take him then.
Palij was born in what was formerly Poland and is now Ukraine, the White House said. He worked as a Nazi labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland before immigrating to the U.S. in 1949.
“Palij’s removal sends a strong message,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil.”
- Pubblicato Mercoledì, 22 Agosto 2018 12:54
Nury Turkel speaks on BBC News' BBC HARDtalk about the ongoing repression of Uyghurs in East Turkistan and what the world's response should be.
The case of at least one million Uyghurs arbitrarily detained in internment camps has increasingly been covered in international press.
- Pubblicato Martedì, 21 Agosto 2018 08:58
President Xi Jinping of China claims his policies improve Chinese lives and support peaceful global economic growth. His government's treatment of Uighur citizens offers the latest proof of Xi's lie, and the Trump administration should say as much.
The tenor and scale of what Xi's China is doing to its Uighur citizens is morally outrageous.
As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, up to 1 million Uighurs, (a predominantly Muslim ethnic group living in north west China) are now detained in "re-education" camps. There, they are taught to re-discover their fealty to the central committee in Beijing. But while Xi's minions defend his camps as vacation-style job training centers, those who have spent time inside them suggest otherwise. They describe arbitrary detention, gross mistreatment, and a demand for ideological purity. And their suffering is only one facet of China's broader crackdown on Uighur religious freedom, culture, and human rights.
So let's be clear, while it's true that China faces a growing counterterrorism challenge from elements within the Uighur community, its response is a far worse example of the U.S. internment policies which targeted Japanese-Americans during the early 1940s. In 2018 China, coercive power is being used not simply for a misguided security policy, but in order to pound individual identity into communist-authoritarian conformity.
What's more, Xi is actually expanding his Khmer Rouge-esque re-education program. Chinese security officials are now harassing Uighurs around the world from France to the United States.
That speaks to something broader about the Uighurs. America's challenge isn't simply about defending universal human rights, but about defending those rights in their alignment with the larger U.S.-China geopolitical struggle. Because what's happening to the Uighurs illuminates the stark divergence between Xi's efforts to make China master of global feudal order, and U.S. efforts to preserve an international order built on freedom and the rule of law. It is the defining challenge of our time.
America's closest allies and neutral actors alike are now confronted by Xi's offer of vast Chinese investments or immense Chinese pressure. And even Britain is tempted by Xi's economic kool-aid.
To confront this challenge to the American-led global order: that which has done more than any other order in human history to live people out of poverty and guarantee human freedom, the U.S. must show that the gap between the lives of those Uighurs in far away Xinjiang and the future lives of those in Brasilia, London, New Dehli, Paris, and Pretoria is not so short.
Ultimately that gap is not measured by geographic distance but by the reality of what Xi's vision ultimately entails. In China's "re-education" of its own citizens, after all, we are educated to China's ultimate regard for individual freedom and opportunity. With one hand China offers investments, with the other it steals vast tracts of ocean in order to extort policies from democracies. With one hand China talks of a new silk road that benefits all, and with the other it steals the intellectual property of others. With one hand China pledges its respect for others and with the other it commits its citizens to concentration camps.
We must not dance to Xi's music.
President Trump should direct Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to double down on their existing efforts to counter Chinese aggression, construct new alliances, and defend humanity's better human future.