Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 6 No. 1-2
Published by Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe
Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 6 No. 1-2 (February 1995)
REMEMBRANCE DAY FOR ISA YUSUF ALPTEKIN
Eastern Turkestani, Turkic, and Turkish organizations in Central Asian republics, Turkey, Europe and the USA have organized a remembrance day for Isa Yusuf Alptekin, long time Eastern Turkestani leader who died last December in Istanbul.
The Inter-Republic Uighur Association in Almaty organized a remembrance day ceremony on February 2 which was attended by more than a thousand people, including Uighur representatives from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. During January and February Turkic and Turkish organization arranged remembrance days in 24 cities in Turkey and Eastern Turkestan. The Turkish Federation in Germany, with branches throughout Europe, organized days of remembrances in several European cities.
In New York the Turkic-American Federation organized a memorial service on February 10. That gathering, chaired by Dr. Shevket Karaduman, was addressed by Erkin Alptekin, eldest son of Isa Yusuf Alptekin. Attending as invited guests were Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Rinchen Darlo, representative of the office of H.H. in America. A message of condolence from H.H. to Erkin Alptekin was read at the ceremony. In his message the Dalai Lama characterized the late Isa Yusuf Alptekin as a fellow freedom fighter and a personal good friend, and concluded with a call to "continue to cherish his life-long aspirations and his struggle for freedom, justice and dignity of our peoples."
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CHINA PRESSURES TURKEY ON ISA YUSUF ALPTEKIN PARK
Heavy diplomatic pressure from China has caused Turkey's Foreign Ministry to request that the Isa Yusuf Alptekin Park in Istanbul be closed, the Eastern Turkestan flag be removed and the Eastern Turkestan Martyrs' Memorial be dismantled. This request has provoked fierce protest in Turkey and abroad.
Protests have come from Eastern Turkestani, Turkic and Turkish organizations, political leaders, members of parliament, intellectuals, and the Turkish press.
Istanbul Mayor Recep Tayip Erdogan, in a letter responding to a Foreign Ministry request to change the name of the park honoring Eastern Turkestani leader Isa Yusuf Alptekin who died on December 17, 1995, expressed his own position and that of district mayors. "The mayors and members of the municipal government," he wrote, "have been democratically elected. These democratically elected representatives have, after lengthy consultation, decided to name a park for Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a 94 year-old man who is not only the leader of the Eastern Turkestani people, but a symbol for all Turkic peoples throughout the world. Had not only the Chinese, but the entire world attempted to pressure us we would not change the name of the park. We, the mayors of Istanbul, believe that to change the name of the park would insult not only Turkey, but all Turkic people of the world.
The response of Turkish parliamentarians, intellectuals and journalists was characterized by the comment: "China, which does not want others to interfere in its own internal affairs is now trying to poke its nose into Turkey's internal matters. We would like to remind China that Turkey is not Eastern Turkestan that they can order people to do what they want, imprison, torture and execute them as they wish. Before pressuring Turkey to close Isa Yusuf Alptekin Park China should first end its atrocities against the Turkic people of Eastern Turkestan."
Several international organizations, including the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), urges the Turkish Foreign Ministry not to submit to Chinese pressure and stressed that this would damage Turkey's international standing. Turkish embassies in the West have also been exhorted to resist diplomatic pressure from China, a country often accused of human rights abuses.
In another response it has been reported that dozens of municipalities throughout Turkey plan to name local parks after Isa Yusuf Alptekin. At least three parks have already been so named in the cities of Kayseri, Konya, and Kahramanmarash.
China's ambassador to Ankara, Wu Koming, has protested the action of the municipalities. In an effort to reverse the decisions Wu Koming traveled to Kayseri where he was met by fierce demonstrations by local citizens ands the governor and mayor refused to meet with him. In Konya the Ambassador met with city governor Atilla Vural and requested the parks in his province be renamed or Chinese-Turkish relations would suffer. The Governor told the Ambassador that although the Turkish Interior Ministry appointed governors, mayors were directly elected. A governor could not, therefore, reverse decisions taken by municipalities.
the new park in the Sultanahmet (Blue Mosque) district of Istanbul was christened the Isa Yusuf Alptekin park in a ceremony on July 28 last year. At the same time a memorial in the park was dedicated to the memory of the martyrs of Eastern Turkestan who lost their lives in the struggle for independence. Since then the Chinese Embassy in Ankara has sought to pressure the Turkish Foreign Ministry to remove both the park and the memorial.
China has also sought to stop all Eastern Turkestani activities in Turkey, to bring about the deportation fro Turkey of some Uighurs and to prevent others from acquiring Turkish citizenship. Several times Turkish authorities have questioned Eastern Turkestani organizations in Istanbul if they were planning anti-Chinese demonstrations, and thirteen Uighur intellectuals who have sought asylum in Turkey have been asked to leave the country. The intervention of several political parties has caused the decision to be temporarily reversed, but the asylum seekers' residence permits have not been extended and it is feared that they may be deported in the future. Almost 150 Uighurs who applied for Turkish citizenship three years ago have still received no positive answer. It is believed that Chinese pressure has played a role in these delays.
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Chinese Communist authorities continue the use of capital punishment in
Eastern Turkestan. Every year several Uighurs are executed, but official
restrictions make confirmation of this practice difficult. The latest
confirmed executions were those of Abdulhamit Talip (32), Idreshan Omer
(19), Mehemetermin Said (24) and Abdullah Mehmet (22), all carried out in
Urumchi on May 30, 1995. A May 1995 decision of the Xinjiang Uighur
Autonomous Region's People's Court in Urumchi all four were found guilty of
taking part in counterrevolutionary activities whose aim were to 'separate
the Great Motherland'.
One of those executed, Idreshan Omer, wrote to his family on June 14, 1994.
A copy of the letter, smuggled out of prison, has been made available to the
ETUE and is given here:
"I would like to express my feelings to you, my relatives and sincere
friends. As you know I have often been punished by the Chinese authorities
for my criticism of Chinese Communist policies in Eastern Turkestan. The
situation had become day by day more unbearable. In our own country we have
no rights whatsoever. Thus together with eight friends I decided to leave
the country, and because the Chinese authorities would not issue us travel
documents we determined to leave illegally.
"We left our hometown of Kargalik on August 12, 1992. On August 24 we
encountered Chinese Communist border guards. Without warning they began to
shoot at us and three of my companions died on the spot. I fled. On August
29 I was shot in the leg by the border guards. I was brought to Urumchi and
imprisoned without proper medical treatment. This was the famous 'Huydaven'
prison and here I discovered that the rest of my companions, who had been
captured alive, had been brought here as well.
"In this prison I was forced to endure a real hell. I was tortured to make
me confess to being a counterevolutionist. Chinese guards beat me at every
opportunity. They forced a wooden roll into my rear, and put needles into my
penis and under my fingernails. In brief, they inflicted on me all sorts of
inhuman torture. How can one human being be so cruel to another ? During all
this time I was not allowed any chance to see, talk, or write to you.
"I became sick because of the torture. On May 21, 1993 two prison guards
accompanied me to a hospital. In the prison's main entrance I saw my former
teacher Kerem Kari. When he saw me he started to weep. I could only say
"Assalam Alaikum" to him. He said, "May God be with you." That was the only
time I met anyone I knew.
"Dear Mother, Father, relatives and sincere friends, believe me, I have done
nothing wrong nor harm to anyone. You know we are a peaceful people. My only
fault was to raise my voice against the tyranny of the Chinese Communist
against my people, and to demand our just rights. At present I do not know
where destiny will take me. If I do not see you again, I entrust you all to
God. I love you all very much.
"The young generation should continue to resist the Chinese Communist
tyranny. They should not be afraid. God is on the side of the just. I love
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ARBITRARY ARRESTS CONTINUE
Reports have reached the Bulletin of the arrest on September 16, 1995
of 16 Uighurs in the city of Aksu. The Uighurs were accused of establishing
an organization called "The Truth," whose purpose was to expose Chinese
atrocities in Eastern Turkestan. The names, whereabouts and the fate of
those arrested is not know. The report said that six Uighurs, arrested in
the city of Kashgar on the same day, had been charged with the same offense.
On August 15, 1995 four Uighur youths were sentenced to between ten and
fifteen years' imprisonment. Abidjan Ubulkasim, Tursunjan Mehmet, Ismail
Mehmet and Reshat Mehmet were found guilty of setting up a
"counterrevolutionary organization," but their countrymen have reported that
there main fault was open criticism of Communist Chinese policies in Eastern
Turkestan. It is believed that they are serving their prison terms in the
Kashgar prison. The local Chinese press has confirmed the imprisonment of
the four Uighurs.
Meanwhile, Li Fenzi, Secretary of Eastern Turkestan's Political and Legal
Commission, was quoted in Xinjiang Daily of December 7, 1995 as warning that
corrupt police officials were provoking anger in Northwest China where
ethnic Muslim separatists had triggered an armed uprising last summer. The
Secretary said that members of the security forces had demanded special
privileges and had forced confessions and illegally placed people in custody
for personal gain. He called for improved education and training of police
and strict discipline to safeguard stability in Eastern Turkestan.
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CHINESE PRESSURE CENTRAL ASIA ON EASTERN TURKESTAN
Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov reportedly told visiting Chinese
Politburo member Hu Jintao recently that Uzbekistan adhered to a "one China"
policy and opposed any form of separatist activity in China. In an attempt
to head off any support for the Turkic peoples in Eastern Turkestan, Chinese
Communist officials have been exerting pressure on the republics of Central
Asia not to support separatist activities there.
During an official visit to China last September, Kazakhstan's president
Nursultan Nazarbayev was pressed by his Chinese hosts to pledge to withhold
assistance from any Eastern Turkestani independence movements.
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IS EASTERN TURKESTAN'S DESERT GROWING ?
Countrymen living on the fringes of Eastern Turkestan's Taklamakan desert
have reported the desertification of arable land bordering Asia's driest
region. Sands of the Taklamakan are reportedly spreading to adjacent fertile
lands and causing the drying up of lakes. Human efforts to retard the
desert's expansion face enormous difficulties.
Informants from the area have identified three main causes for the widening
sands. The first is deforestation. Historically, the Taklamakan, despite
it's flying sands, was a country containing many forests. Among the Uighurs
the planting of trees was an important tradition. Trees were treated like
children and great care was taken to protect them. Particularly after the
1949 occupation of Eastern Turkestan by Chinese Communists trees throughout
the country were cut down in an attempt to exploit the area's natural
resources. In the 1970s an effort was made at reforestation, but not even a
third of the forests were replaced.
Second, almost nine thousand Chinese settlers move into Eastern Turkestan
every day. Before 1949 there were some 300 thousand Chinese living in
Eastern Turkestan. According to official figures that number has grown to
six million. Unofficial estimates put the number much higher. The need to
provide living space and land for the Chinese settlers to cultivate has
caused the clearing of more and more virgin forest.
Finally, the ever growing Chinese population has increasingly drained
Eastern Turkestan's water resources which have always been scarce. The
extensive exploitation of water resources to support agricultural projects
has led o the emptying of Lop Nor Lake which countrymen report is now
completely dry. The pattern is similar to the tragedy of the Aral Sea in
another part of Central Asia ruined by foreign exploitation.
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ASIA WATCH NAMES POLITICAL PRISONERS
In a recently published report, "Detained in China and Tibet," Asia Watch
has for the first time given a detailed account of political and religious
prisoners in Eastern Turkestan, including several names. The report also
includes information on the condition of labor camps in China, including in
its colonies in Eastern Turkestan, Tibet and Inner Mongolia, and on peaceful
demonstrations and the situation of dissidents in these countries.
"China's prison system and labor camp system is the most extensive in the
world," the report said. It added, "according to the Chinese government's
1993 reply to the UN Committee on torture, it currently comprises 684 reform
through labor centers, 155 prisons, 492 rehabilitation centers (including
both administrative labor reeducation camps and women's reeducation centers)
and 37 social reintegration centers for juvenile offenders."
Referring to dissidents, who are often convicted of counterrevolutionary
crimes the report said, "many peaceful dissidents, however are sentenced to,
either with or without trial, on charges other than 'counterrevolution' and
this number is likely to increase in the coming years as China's judicial
authorities move toward replacing such charges with less obviously political
The report contains information on 1,700 persons known or believed to be
imprisoned in connection with their political, ethnic or religious views.
Reaching back well before the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, it records
the cases of dissidents arrested in the late 1970s and early 1980s and
extends through arrests made as late as January 1994.
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CONFERENCE HEARS OF EASTERN TURKESTAN'S HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
More than 100 delegates to a March 7-8 conference in London of Human Rights
International listened to a report by Erkin Alptekin on human rights abuses
in Eastern Turkestan. The delegates, including parliamentarians and
representatives of non-governmental organizations, also heard reports of
human rights abuses in various parts of the world. HRI chairman Robert
Parry, campaign coordinator Clair Galez and Dr. Munwaasar A. Halpota spoke
on the importance of involving the UN, national governments, and NGOs in the
prevention of human rights abuses.
Alptekin, Chairman of the Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe, told the group
that the indifference on the part of the international community has lead to
serious tensions states, nations, peoples and minorities throughout the
world. He called on the international community to develop new principles
and more humane political frameworks within which states and groups could
work to reduce tensions. He proposed that the UN establish a new tribunal to
hear the grievances of minorities around the world, and insisted that
fact-finding missions be sent to areas of probable conflict to relieve tense
situations before they escalate beyond control.
Human Rights International is a non-profit alliance dedicated to the
protection of human rights, cultural, economic, religious, civil, and
political. It has adopted resolutions condemning Chinese human rights
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FREEDOM FOR TIBET MARCHES
Members of the Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe participated in a "Freedom
for Tibet" march in Brussels on March 10. More than six thousand people
attended the march which was organized by the Tibetan intergroup of the
European Parliament, the Tibetan Communities in Europe, European Tibetan
Support Groups and by the Radical Party. The aim of the march was to
encourage the Chinese leadership to begin negotiations on the future of
Tibet with the Exile Government of Tibet headed by His Holiness the Dalai
the Demonstration began in front of the Chinese Embassy and marched through
Brussels to the European Parliament Building where Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche,
President of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, and other Tibetan and European
A similar march was organized in Washington on March 18 in which Uighurs
living in the United States carried banners such as "Free Tibet," "Free
Eastern Turkestan," "Stop Mass Immigration" and "Stop Enforced Family
Planning and Nuclear Tests."
The Washington demonstration passed the White House and the US Capitol.
Speakers addressed the group in front of the Chinese Embassy where a woman
speaking Uighur said that Tibet and Eastern Turkestan belonged to the local
people and that the occupiers should leave. "We want independence," she
said, "It is a shame that the international community still watches the
enslavement of the Uighurs and Tibetans who have contributed to the
enrichment of world civilization for so many centuries."
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EARTHQUAKE HITS EASTERN TURKESTAN
An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale struck Eastern Turkestan on
March 19 killing at least 24 people and leaving 10,000 homeless. The
prefectures of Artux, Jiashi, and Bachu and the city of Kashgar were hardest
hit. Seventeen of those killed were children.
A rescue worker in Jiashi said:" There are no buildings left standing.
"Dozens of aftershocks were reported and thousands of inhabitants were
living outdoors in the cold and heavy snow. The quake opened a four
kilometer crack in an earthen dike at the end of one of the area's biggest
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CONFERENCE ON CHINESE ATOM TESTS
Erkin Alptekin, Chairman of the Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe, Kahraman
Gojamberdiev, Chairman of the Uighur Association in Almaty, Kazakhstan and
Huriz Illiyeva, Chairman of the Almaty-based International Environmental
Association of Women of the Orient, participated in a conference in Haarlem,
Holland on March 14. The subject of the conference was Chinese Nuclear Tests
in Eastern Turkestan. Other guest speakers were Prof. Dr. Johan Niezing, a
specialist on Chinese nuclear weapons and Jaap Rodenburg, representative of
Greenpeace in Holland.
the Conference was organized by the Research Center for Turkestan and
Azerbaijan, Dr. Mehmet Tutuncu, Chairman, to draw attention to Chinese
nuclear tests in Eastern Turkestan. The Center is an independent
organization for research and information promoting the basic rights of
Turkic speaking peoples in Central Asia and the Caucus.
The conference' keynote speech was delivered by the Kyrgyz author Chengiz
Aitmatov who called for the immediate halting of all nuclear testing to save
the planet from ecological destruction. The Uighur speakers presented
details on the Chinese testing program and nuclear arsenal and urged the
same international sensitivity to Chinese nuclear tests in Eastern Turkestan
as to French tests in Polynesia.
A recent Greenpeace report has estimated that China's 450 nuclear weapons,
300 strategic and 150 tactical, have a combined yield equivalent to 16,000
Hiroshima bombs. It noted that neither China nor France were signatories to
the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
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ETUE LEADER CHAIRS CONFERENCE AT U.N.
"The Question of Self-Determination: Comparative Studies on East Timor,
Tibet and the Western Sahara,: an two-day conference opened on March 25 at
the United Nations in Geneva, was chaired by Eastern Turkestan Union in
Europe Chairman Erkin Alptekin. The aim of the conference, organized by the
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), was to examine the
basis and meaning of self-determination in three specific areas.
Despite heavy opposition from the Chinese government the meeting was
well-attended and addressed by eminent speakers including Prof. Richard Falk
of Princeton University, Senator Michael O'Kennedy, former foreign minister
to Ireland, Mr. J.M Mukhi, former legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry of
India and Mr. Sulak Sivaraksa, 1994 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and 1995
recipient of the Right Livelihood Award.
Mr. Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy in Washington of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Mr. Jose
Ramos Horta, Special representative of the National Council of Maubere
Resistance and Dahi Bashir, Director of International Relations of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Polisaro Front, all spoke on behalf of
their peoples. Part of the conference was also chaired by UNPO General
Secretary Dr. Michael van Walt.
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NEW BOOK ON EASTERN TURKESTAN'S PEOPLES
A recently published book focuses on 13 ethnic groups, including the
Chinese, living in Eastern Turkestan. The new book, Die Ethnischen
Gruppen Xinjiangs (Ethnic Groups of Xinjiang) by Thomas Hoppe, published
by the Institut fur Asienkunde, 1995 is rare in its detailed accounts of
these groups. This book describes the history, culture, civilization,
religion, language, traditions, areas of habitation and inter-ethnic
relations of the various groups.
The book's author, Dr. Hoppe, was born in 1949 and works as an interpreter.
He has conducted extensive research in Eastern Turkestan, especially its
agriculture, on behalf of German academic institutions.
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The March 1996 issue of National Geographic included a long article
on Eastern Turkestan, its people and their culture. The article was written
by Thomas B. Allen with photographs by Reza, an Iranian. The article
includes the following excerpts:
"The name of the province acknowledges its double identity. Xinjiang is
Chinese for 'New Frontier.' China long sought this vast swath of Central
Asia, a corridor between East and West even before the Silk Road passed this
way as early as the second century B.C. But not until the 18th century did
China gain an uneasy control, and not until 1955 did the Peoples Republic of
China establish the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, a province bigger
than Alaska and home to eight million Uighurs, the most populous of
Xinjiang's many ethnic groups...
"Beijing calls this distant western province China's California, for here is
oil and here is potential wealth from industry and international trade...
"Although there had been talk in the early 1900s of a Uygur-led separatist
movement that would make Xinjiang an independent nation named Eastern
Turkestan, republics arising in the1930s and '40s were short-lived. China
strengthened its control in the '50s and was rarely challenged until the
'80s, when hundreds died in what China called 'racial incidents' in
Kashgar... and Aksu, northeast of Kashgar. In 1990 about 50 Uygurs and
Kyrgyz were killed in what China labeled a 'counter-revolutionary
rebellion.' Bombs allegedly set by separatists exploded in Urumqi in 1992
and in Kashgar in 1993. Muslims rioted in Hotan in 1995, when Chinese
authorities removed a popular Imam suspected of fomenting dissent...
"Uygurs... say that the Chinese government is pouring migrants into the
province to make Han Chinese the majority. In 1949 only 200,000 Han lived
here. In 1993, by Chinese count, there were six million Han out of a
population of 16 million. A Western scholar estimates that 250,000 to
3000,000 Han enter Xinjiang each year...
"...China used the army to colonize Xinjiang. The soldiers, organized into
the Production and Construction Corps in the 1950s, built an economic
stronghold in Xinjiang... The corps, through its farms, factories, and other
enterprises, now runs an empire of 2.2 million people, nearly all of them
Han Chinese who answer to Beijing...
"Well over a million of Urumqi's 1.4 million people are Han Chinese, who run
the city and dispense most of the jobs. Every employee I saw in my
Western-style hotel was a Han. All the police officers I saw were Han. Even
unskilled laborers were Han, lured for other provinces to work on the dozens
of high-rises sprouting in Urumqi.
"...I had an audience with the governor [Ablat Abdulreshit]... By law the
governor of Xinjiang must be an Uygur. Even so, Abdulreshit spoke to us in
Chinese, the official language here. He presides over a bewildering
structure of prefectures, towns, cities, and counties, each with sets of
political and Communist Party officials, many are from minority groups, but
all are under Han superiors."
An article in the 'Opinions/Letters' section of the International Herald
Tribune of December 7, 1995 by Karl E. Meyer described some of the
manifestations of Chinese colonialism and 'ethnic dissonance' in Eastern
Turkestan. The author noted that signs he had witnessed of popular unrest
and the Chinese indifference to the majority Uighur population: "...the most
conspicuous evidence of central rule was as plain as every clock face, since
all China is bound by one time zone: Beijing's.
"In Kashgar, thousands of miles from Beijing, the absurd result is the city
is dark almost until noon... Doubtless a single time zone suits the
convenience of the leadership in Beijing, as does it's insistence that
Uighurs learn Chinese...
"in China's Xinjiang Province," the article concluded, "the ethos of
colonialism past survives, like a relic in a museum bell jar."
The Tibet Press Watch for February included a tribute to Isa Yusuf
Alptekin by Lodi Gyari, President of the International Campaign for Tibet.
Gyari emphasized the long cooperation between Alptekin, who died in Istanbul
on December 17, 1995, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which began when the
two met in India in 1960.
The tribute cited a message from Alptekin to the newly established Allied
Committee of the Peoples of Eastern Turkestan, Mongolia, Manchuria, and
Tibet in 1986: "Our national struggle for independence will undoubtedly be
carried out within the boundaries of our respective countries as has been
before. We, who are in exile, are not in a position to participate in this
fundamental struggle as long as we are far from our homelands. However, we
do not lack the energy to make contributions to the national struggle and
this we regard as our patriotic obligation."
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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
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Last updated 06/29/99