- 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.
- Pubblicato Sabato, 18 Agosto 2018 19:53
Rahile Dawut an academic from the Uighur ethnic minority, working in the Chinese region of Xinjiang in 2005. She has been missing for eight months.
She was one of the most revered academics from the Uighur ethnic minority in far western China. She had written extensively and lectured across China and the world to explain and celebrate Uighurs’ varied traditions. Her research was funded by Chinese government ministries and praised by other scholars.
Then she disappeared.
The academic, Rahile Dawut, 52, told a relative last December that she planned to travel to Beijing from Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region where she taught. Professor Dawut was in a rush when she left, according to the relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of punishment from the Chinese authorities.
She has not been heard from since, and her family and close friends are sure she was secretly detained as part of a severe clampdown on Uighurs, the largely Muslim group who call Xinjiang their homeland.
Professor Dawut’s trajectory — from celebrated ethnographer at Xinjiang University in Urumqi to clandestine detainee — illustrates a wider crackdown that has drastically constricted Uighur life and culture.
The family member and Professor Dawut’s friends said they decided to speak out now, eight months after she vanished, because it had become clear that staying silent would not bring her release from a re-education facility, detention cell or perhaps prison.
“Virtually all expressions of Uighurs’ unique culture are dangerous now, and there’s no better evidence of that than the disappearance of Rahile Dawut,” said Rian Thum, an associate professor at Loyola University New Orleans whose historical research on Uighur pilgrimages and manuscripts drew on Professor Dawut’s pioneering studies. “There was a lot of hope that they would see that she was a nonthreat and release her, but that hope gradually dwindled.”
The Xinjiang region, more than anywhere else in China, has demonstrated how Xi Jinping, the country’s president and Communist Party leader, is determined to redraw the boundaries of what is permitted in religion, academic research, civil society and ethnic expression.
Under him, the government has redoubled a yearslong clampdown on Uighurs who are marked as potential supporters of independence or Islamist extremism. For many of Xinjiang’s 11 million Uighurs, their homeland has become a surveillance state swarming with checkpoints, security cameras and armed patrols.
Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have been kept in secretive re-education centers for weeks, months and even years, scholars and international human rights groups estimate. Uighurs have also experienced increasing restrictions on movement, prayer and communications.
Chinese officials have mostly avoided acknowledging the mass internments. But not even moderate academics like Professor Dawut appear secure. The government has purged what it calls “two-faced” Uighur teachers and officials suspected of secretly resisting the hard-line policies.
“Since Uighurs are now collectively under suspicion, any Uighur academic with foreign ties is branded a ‘two-faced intellectual’ — disloyal to the state and in need of re-education,” said Rachel Harris, who studies Uighur music at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and knows Professor Dawut as a friend and academic partner.
“The accounts of the ‘re-education’ regime that people are undergoing in those camps are harrowing,” Professor Harris said by email. “I imagine my lovely, principled, dedicated colleague there, and I feel incredibly angry.”
Other prominent Uighurs who have vanished in the past two years, apparently into detention, include writers and website operators, a soccer star and a popular musician, according to Radio Free Asia and overseas Uighur groups with extensive contacts in Xinjiang.
At least one of Professor Dawut’s graduate students in China has also disappeared, according to John Kamm, founder of the Dui Hua Foundationin San Francisco, which lobbies the Chinese government on human rights cases. He said his attempts to get information about Professor Dawut from Chinese officials had been unsuccessful.
“Everyone who has known her is under suspicion,” Mr. Kamm said. “Rahile Dawut is the human face of this unspeakable tragedy.”
A month before Professor Dawut left her last message, her life had a semblance of normality. She gave a talk on Uighur women in November at Peking University, speaking to a forum of scholars who have backed Mr. Xi’s assimilationist policies in Xinjiang.
Uighurs are a Turkic people, much closer in appearance, language and customs to peoples across Central Asia than the Han who make up the vast majority of China’s population. The Chinese government had long been wary of defiance from them, given Uighurs’ history of independence. Official alarm skyrocketed after deadly riots in Xinjiang in 2009 and a series of primitive but bloody assaults on Han people, police officers and officials.
But until recently, Professor Dawut’s work was welcomed by Chinese bureaucrats, as evidenced by grants and support she received from the Ministry of Culture. She had earned an international reputation as an expert on Uighur shrines, folklore, music and crafts neglected by previous generations of scholars.
“I was deeply drawn to this vivid, lively folk culture and customs, so different from the accounts in textbooks,” she said in an interview with a Chinese art newspaper in 2011. “Above all, we’re preserving and documenting this folk cultural heritage not so that it can lie in archives or serve as museum exhibits, but so it can be returned to the people.”
While Chinese policymakers worried that Uighurs were increasingly drawn to radical forms of Islam from the Middle East, Professor Dawut’s work portrayed Uighur heritage as more diverse and tolerant, shaped by Sufi spiritual traditions anathema to modern-day extremists. In 2014, she told The New York Times that she worried about Uighur women drawn to conservative Islam.
After finishing her doctorate in Beijing, Professor Dawut began teaching at Xinjiang University, the region’s premier school. She founded a folklore institute and shared her work in Europe and the United States, becoming a guide to many foreign scholars.
“Most Western scholars doing research on Xinjiang knew to bring her coffee,” said Elise Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University who worked with Professor Dawut. “I remember a lot of the time she would say, ‘Let’s take a break from work. Let’s drink some coffee.’”
Professor Dawut stayed away from political disputes about the future of Xinjiang. If she needed any warning about the risks, there was Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist at Minzu University in Beijing and measured critic of Chinese policy in Xinjiang. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 on charges of separatism. Seven of his students were also charged.
But Professor Dawut’s international prominence and pride in Uighur traditions may help explain her downfall.
After Mr. Xi came to power in 2012 and installed a hard-line party functionary to run Xinjiang, the drive to root out dissent here accelerated. Xinjiang University and other schools became a particular focus.
In March of last year, the university leaders were replaced, and soon afterward a team of party inspectors reported that the university had been politically lax. The new administrators vowed to unmask “two-faced” Uighur academics who resisted the new orthodoxies. Research and foreign ties that were once tolerated became increasingly suspect.
Xinjiang University held a rally of 4,300 teachers and students who were warned that separatist sympathizers would be driven out like “rats crossing the road.”
“The Chinese government, after arresting Uighur government officials, Uighur rich people, they’ve begun to arrest Uighur intellectuals,” Tahir Imin, a former student of Professor Dawut, said from Washington, where he lives. “Right now I can tell you more than 20 names, all prominent Uighur intellectuals.”
As her friends abroad expressed growing worry, Professor Dawut continued her teaching and research as far as new restrictions allowed. She was also reluctant to leave her mother alone in Urumqi, Professor Harris said.
“I always tried to bring some freshly ground coffee with me when I visited her,” she said of Professor Dawut. “That’s a painful memory when I think of her life now in the detention camp.”
- Pubblicato Sabato, 18 Agosto 2018 19:10
Another thoughtful reporting by Josh Chin (highly recommend watching his video presentation first) and his team on the human tragedies that the Uyghur people have been subjected to in Xi Jinping’s China. This and the other chilling reports make you wonder when will the western governments realize the cost of appeasement and act on conscience instead of political expediency.
China has sharply expanded an internment program that initially targeted ethnic Uighur extremists but is now confining vast numbers of the largely Muslim minority group, including the secular, old and infirm, in camps across the country’s northwest.
Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang region, have now been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to U.S. officials and United Nations experts.
As the camps have swelled in size, some Uighurs living outside China say that relatives—mainly, but not all, older people—have died in detention or shortly after their release.
Satellite images reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and a specialist in photo analysis show that camps have been growing. Construction work has been carried out on some within the past two weeks, including at one near the western city of Kashgar that has doubled in size since Journal reporters visited in November.
The full extent of the internment program was long obscured because many Uighurs feared speaking out. Now more are recounting experiences, including six former inmates interviewed by the Journal who described how they or other detainees had been bound to chairs and deprived of adequate food.
“They would also tell us about religion, saying there is no such thing as religion, why do you believe in religion, there is no God,” said Ablikim, a 22-year-old Uighur former inmate who asked to be identified only by his first name.
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