RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION IN EASTERN TURKESTAN
We read with regret in the July 18 issue of Arab News that China's Communist leaders have once again ordered curbs on the religious activities of Muslims throughout China.
The Turkic Muslims of Eastern Turkestan, home to more than half of China's Muslims, have become the target of systematic religious intolerance and discrimination by Chinese Communist authorities, especially after the independence of the five Central Asian Republics in Western Turkestan.
The Waqf lands and properties previously confiscated by the Communists have not been returned and the Muslims of Eastern Turkestan have no other financial resources to support their religious activities. Government financial support is non-existent while voluntary contributions from inside or outside the country are prohibited.
The number of mosques open for prayer do not meet the needs of the Muslims. In many places in Eastern Turkestan Muslims have undertaken the restoration and construction of existing and new mosques, but it has been reported that since 1991 some 1,500 mosques in Eastern Turkestan have been closed on the grounds that they were built without permission. According to The New York Times, construction on 153 mosques was discontinued in 1993.
There are at present no private religious schools in Eastern Turkestan and private religious instruction is banned. Some religious schools already opened in Eastern Turkestan have been closed. On April 12, 1990, the Xinjiang Daily reported the closure of several religious schools which had been set up by Muslims "without permission" in the cities of Hotan, Yarkent and Kashgar. The report said that they "realized after criticism" that the establishment of the religious schools had been "neither in line with the CCP's policy on religion nor conducive to the maintenance of overall stability in Xinjiang" and that Muslims had "dissolved the religious schools of their own accord."
It has been reported that in official religious schools religion is taught only as a negative example in the context of Marxist explanations of correct attitude. In these schools, children are taught to regard religion as something to be ashamed of, as primitive belief practiced by lower forms of Chinese society. Social pressure has eroded the importance of religion among young people, and tens of thousands of children have moved away from Islamic beliefs. Thus, Islamic teachings can be passed down to children only in daily life.
At present there is a great shortage of Imams. Throughout China there are only six official religious schools to train Imams. But the directors of all of these schools are Communists and Marxist teaching dominates the religious instruction. To train non-partisan Imams in the true sense is forbidden.
On September 16, 1990. the Chinese authorities in Eastern Turkestan promulgated new regulations stipulating that "religious professionals" in the country must "support the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party . . .and oppose separatism". According to the regulations, all religious leaders must be "licensed" by officially recognized "patriotic religious organizations"; their credentials must be reviewed yearly and may be canceled by the local Religious Affairs Departments. Regulations also ban the teaching of religion and the distribution of religious materials outside the premises of officially registered organizations.
In 1991 the Associated Press, Ajans France Press, and the Chinese language newspaper Sing Tao reported that 25,000 religious figures in Eastern Turkestan had been purged for disloyalty to the Chinese Communist Party.
On September 3, 1991, the Xinjiang Daily reported that 500 "religious personalities" in Kashgar, had been subjected to a form of investigation referred to as 'democratic appraisal". Of these, an unspecified number were reportedly punished for 'illegal activities", and "control files" had been opened on all religious personalities "of Imam status or higher.
On August 14, 1993, The New York Times reported that in the Kashgar area alone, investigations of some 12,000 religious figures had been launched. It has also been reported that in 1993 alone, m6re than 135 people in Eastern Turkestan were arrested for criticizing Chinese religious policy. Among them were Abdulahat Makhsum in the city of Hotan, Rozi Muhammed in Karakash, and Abdulfettah Haji in Kashgar. These three religious leaders are known for their criticism of Chinese religious policies in Eastern Turkestan. Abdulahat Makhsum was arrested on December 12, 1993 and Rozi Muhammed and Abdulfettah Haji were arrested three days later. In order to protest the arrest of these three religious leaders, thousands of people have staged demonstrations in the cities of Hotan, Karakash and Kashgar.
At present, there is a great shortage of Korans in Eastern Turkestan. On the other hand the Arabic language is not taught in schools, and even if some can read the Arabic script, they do not understand the contents of the Koran. Koran courses are only permitted in the Mosques, but there are not enough instructors to teach.
Today, the Muslims of Eastern Turkestan do not have even one Islamic publication in their language. Throughout China Muslims have only one quarterly publication called The China Muslim. It has 30 pages and half of them contain reprints of CCP and government speeches. and the Communist. authorities hold all senior positions in the editorial board.
It is time that the Islamic world moved to stop the persecution, arbitrary arrests and executions of Muslims in China seeking only to live with dignity.
At present, not only the Muslims in Eastern Turkestan, but those in China as a whole, as well as Christians, Buddhists and followers of other religions are all facing the same fate.
NEW UIGHUR FACULTY IN KYRGYZSTAN
Beginning with the 1994-95 academic year the State University of Kyrgyzstan will open an Uighur Language Faculty. According to Professor Israel Ibrahim, Dean of the new facility, it will educate students in the Uighur language, literature and history. Prof. Ibrahim, who is also Chairman of the Tengri Tagh Foundation, the faculty will also offer instruction in the Russian, English and Kyrgyz languages, geography, political science, philosophy and tele-communications. Graduates of the four-year course of studies conducted in Kyrgyz and Russian at the Uighur Faculty will be awarded Bachelor level degrees. Men and women under the age of 36 will be admitted to the facility whose annual fees are expected to be around SUS 800 to 1,000 per student.
UNPO MEETINGS IN GENEVA
The Steering Committee of the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization (UNPO) met in Geneva on July 30 and 31. The agenda discussed included new membership applications to UNPO, draft rules of procedure for the General Assembly and for the Steering Committee, and proposals to open UNPO offices in Geneva and London. Eastern Turkestan was represented on the Steering Committee by Erkin AIptekin, Chairman of the Eastern Turkestani Union in Europe.
On August first and second a seminar organized by the UNPO General Secretariat met in Geneva to discuss common strategies in preparation for meetings of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The two day seminar, attended by several UNPO members, discussed substantive issues on the agendas of the UN bodies in preparation for their upcoming meetings.
JOINT BRIEFING AT THE UN IN GENEVA
Human rights abuses in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet was the subject of an August 5 public briefing at the United Nations Headquarters m Geneva organized by the General Secretariat of UNPO. Speakers at the briefing included Erkin AIptekin, Chairman of the Eastern Turkestani Union in Europe, and Gyaltsen Gyaltag, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
AIptekin, who presented a paper entitled "Population Transfer and the Survival of the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan", briefly described the danger of gradual assimilation now facing the Uighurs, the indigenous people of Eastern Turkestan. He said that Chinese Communist Leaders, in an effort to make Eastern Turkestan a completely Chinese province, were pursuing measures to assimilate the Uighur nation and systematically eliminate their culture. Such measures, he said, included the active encouragement of the resettlement of large numbers of Chinese throughout Eastern Turkestan by means of financial and other material incentives. According to AIptekin the Chinese leadership, in pursuing this policy, were violating universally accepted norms of international law prohibiting the transfer of settlers to and from occupied territories. Such activity furthermore violated the fundamental human rights of the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan, including their right to self-determination.
DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOR FEDERAL CHINA
A group of well-known Chinese scholars from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have drafted a proposed "Constitution of the Federal Republic of China". The constitution was drafted in January, 1994 m San Francisco, and has now been made public by several Chinese language newspapers published abroad. Recently, an English translation of the proposed Constitution was also published.
According to this draft, Federal China is a "free, democratic federal republic with the rule of law". It is composed of autonomous states, provinces, cities and special regions. According to the proposed constitution Taiwan, Tibet, Eastern Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Guangxi would be autonomous states and Hong Kong and Macao would be special regions. Autonomous states could adopt their own constitutions and the power of the federal government would come from the component elements of the federal republic and from the people. The autonomous states would also have the right to sign non-military agreements with foreign countries and the right to make their own decisions about joining international organizations and setting up representative offices in foreign countries.
TOUGHER SECURITY RULES FOR CHINA
China has adopted tough new state security regulations to control dissent The regulations, published in the newspaper Legal Daily, on July I3, bar foreigners from meeting, supporting or aiding Chinese considered a threat to national security. Subversive activities are defined as including organizing terrorism, fabricating rumors, distorting facts and spreading video, audio or other arguments aimed at jeopardizing state security. Banned activities also include inciting dissent among minorities, encouraging separatism or using religion for the same purpose. It is believed that these regulations may be aimed at Tibetans, Eastern Turkestanis and Inner Mongolians demanding independence.
TOURISTS DEPORTED FOR DALAI LAMA CASSETTE
According to a July 27 statement by the London-based Tibet Information Network (Tm), two American tourists were interrogated by Chinese police in Tibet for four days and then deported. They were accused of giving a monk a recording of a speech by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Karen Stobbs Aderer, 24, and her husband Karl Aderer, a 52 year old businessman from Missouri, handed a cassette recording to a monk at Tashilhumpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city, in June.
The couple were later stopped by police and ordered to stay in or near their hotel over a period of hours. They were required to make daily visits to a police station where they had to sign "statements" saying they had distributed political propaganda. Under police escort they were later driven to the nearest airport and flown to Nepal on June 24.
The aim of the Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin is to disseminate objective current information on the people, culture and civilization of Eastern Turkestan and to provide a forum for discussion on a wide range of topics and complex issues. ETIB is published bi-monthly by the Eastern Turkestani Union in Europe(ETUE), established January 11, 1991 in Munich, Germany. Neither ETIB nor ETUE claim or accept responsibility for views otherwise identified within our pages. We hope that those using information from our publication in published works will be courteous enough to cite its source. All inquiries and contributions should be addressed to Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin, Asgar Can, Editor, St. Blasien Str. 2, D-80809 Munich, Germany.