In 1911, the Nationalist Chinese, overthrew the Manchu rule in China and established a republic. The Uighurs, who also wanted to free themselves from foreign domination, staged several uprisings against Nationalist Chinese rule during this period. Twice, in 1933 and 1944, the Uighurs were successful in setting up an independent Eastern Turkestan republic. But these independent republics were overthrown, by military intervention and political intrigue of the Soviet Union. In 1949 the Nationalist Chinese were defeated by the Chinese Communists and Eastern Turkestan subsequently fell under Chinese Communist rule.
This policy rest on the three main principles: divide and rule, assimilate and "Da Han Chu-i" meaning the creation of a "Greater China Nation."
Administrative policies and practices of Feudal, Nationalist, and Chinese Communist authorities toward the Uighurs have, with minor differences, followed a continuous pattern.
These three Feudal Chinese administrators were responsible for giving Eastern Turkestan the Chinese name "Xinjiang" and its direct annexation to China. Under their administration, Eastern Turkestan was divide in to four administrative regions while Uighurs, who were considered 'rebellious,' were subjected to a policy aimed at destroying their pride and self-respect.2 At the same time, seeds of discord were sown among the peoples of Eastern Turkestan and all cities, towns and counties were given Chinese names.
In an effort to completely transform Eastern Turkestan into a Chinese province, Chinese settlers were brought in from Gansu, Hunan and Yunnan and other Chinese provinces.
The Uighurs were forced to marry Chinese, to wear Chinese dress, to show exaggerated respect to Chinese officials, and to kneel when they met a Chinese official.3 Chinese officials were given the right to punish at their discretion the Uighurs, to imprison them, and even to have them executed.4 Any appeal to higher authorities by the Uighurs against such punishment was strictly prohibited. Any complaint about Chinese officials brought automatic punishment against those who made the complaint.
"The presence of 100 thousand-strong Chinese troops in the region," wrote Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky after a visit to Eastern Turkestan, "serves not to pacify it, but constitutes and inexhaustible source of looting and all manner of oppression of Uighur population. At the same time the entire farming population has been subjected to exorbitant and ruthlessly exacted taxation."5
Zho Zung Tang ordered the closing of all traditional Uighur schools, the banning of Uighur customs, and the compulsory learning of Chinese.6
"Upon encountering a Chinese official," wrote the Russian traveler Kuropatkin, "in the streets, all Uighurs were supposed to dismount. If the local Chinese official was making a tour of the town, the people were supposed to kneel in the streets. If the Chinese official was on his way to the temple, all Uighurs, supposed to kneel at the entrance with their hands behind their backs."7
Another Russian traveler, Grum-Grzhimailo, who visited Eastern Turkestan noted that the Chinese used to force the Uighur officials to go to the Chinese temples. This occurs, he explained, "Whenever such violence could not meet with any real resistance."8
In one of his reports to the Manchu-Chinese emperor, Zho Zung Tang requested permission to kill not only armed Uighurs, but also all Uighurs, including Uighur children. "Whether he received that permission or not remains unknown," writes the Russian scholar V. Viukow, "but it is quite possible that this cruel measure was indeed taken."9
Of the Uighurs who opposed the rule and policies of the Feudal Chinese administration, more than one million people were executed.10 About 500,000, fearing punishment at Chinese hands, escaped to neighboring countries like Russia, Afghanistan and India11, and 200,000 were transported from the southern parts of the country to the Ili Valley as forced labor, to provide food for the Manchu-Chinese troops stationed in that area to control Chinese interests in Central Asia.12
According to Prof. Li Dung Fang, all nations living within the frontiers of China, originally descended from a Great Chinese nation. It is, therefore, necessary and fitting that they be once again united within the framework of a Great Chinese Nation. Prof. Li Dung Fang proposed that the Uighurs and the Chinese shared a common ancestry. The Uighurs, he argued, were descended from the Huns, and the Huns were in turn descended from the ancient Chinese.14 Such theories were enthusiastically supported by Chiang Kai Shek and his associates.
In his book, China's Destiny, Chiang Kai Shek explicitly stated that all nations in China were descended from a single Chinese nation (Zhunghua), and that all these nations belonged to the same race. These nations, he held were united by race, and differed only in minor aspects such as habit, tradition, religious belief and geographical distribution. In reality, however, they were all members of a single stock, race and nation.15
The Nationalist Chinese did not revise these views even after being driven from mainland China and taking forced refuge in Taiwan.16 More than 300,000 Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan who opposed this policy have been liquidated.17
chauvinism, said that the Communists fully endorsed Sun Yat Sen's position on "self-determination" after the Communist takeover in China.19 After he seized power in China, however, Mao Zedong completely ignored his own promises of self-determination. Faced with this situation, the Uighurs pleaded that they might be permitted at least to form a federated republic, but Mao Zedong rejected this request citing the following grounds: "For two thousand years Xinjiang has been an inalienable part of an indivisible China; therefore, there would be no sense in dividing China into federated republics; this is a demand hostile to history and socialism..."20
Faced with Mao Zedong's hard attitude, Uighurs requested that the name Xinjiang, given to their country during the feudal rule, be changed to the historical name of Eastern Turkestan. If this was not acceptable they asked that the country be called Uighuristan. Mao Zedong also rejected this and decided to form the "autonomous regions," "autonomous provinces," and "autonomous districts" within the territories of Eastern Turkestan. At the same time the ethnic groups living in that country were promised "equality."
In another turn-about, Mao Zedong ignored his own dictum, "there is no need to divide China into federated republics, because China has been a single, united land from earlier time," by dividing the peoples of Eastern Turkestan who have been united throughout history, into autonomous regions, and provinces. This was a continuation of the nationalist policies aimed at dividing the peoples of Eastern Turkestan and assimilating them into the body of the "Great Chinese Nation."
The newspaper Xinjiang Ribao expressed this policy in December 1960: "... The Chinese make up 94 percent of the whole population of China and from the view of political, economic and cultural development they are most advanced. Consequently, the merging of nationalities should be realized on the basis of one nationality. It is China we are speaking of, so the basis should be Chinese. The characteristics of the Chinese nation are be transformed (sic) into the general national characteristics of national minorities. This merging is Marxist and Communist assimilation, the inevitable tendency of social development. Language must serve the unification of motherland; in other words, the language of national minority peoples must be made as close as possible to the Chinese language. Whoever, opposes this assimilation, opposes socialism and communism, and historical materialism..."
In accordance with this view, Chinese Communists have tried to completely transform Eastern Turkestan into a Chinese province and to culturally sinocize the Uighurs eliminating their beliefs.
The following is the legacy of the Chinese Communist authority over 45 years:
In the first Joint People's Democratic Government of Eastern Turkestan, 29 of the 31 members were representatives of the local nationalities and only two were Chinese. It reflected the proportion of Chinese among the total population, - about 3 per cent. Soon, however, the ratio began to change. The proportion of Chinese in leading government and party bodies quickly rose to 50 per cent, and now 90 percent of the important posts in Eastern Turkestan are occupied by Chinese.21
For instance, the Regional Party Committee's Standing Committee, the ruling body of the Chinese Communist Party in Eastern Turkestan, has 15 members. Of these, three are Uighur, one is Kazakh, one is Mongol, and 10 are Chinese. The Regional Communist Party Central Committee has 56 members. Thirteen are Uighurs, four are Kazakh, two are Kyrgyz, two Mongol, two Hui, and 33 are Chinese. The Regional People's Government has nine members. Three of them are Uighurs, one is Kazakh and the rest are Chinese.
At present, only Chinese are represented on Party, administrative and economic bodies of the so-called Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
With the disappearance of local-inhabitant majorities in Party, administrative and economic bodies of Eastern Turkestan little "autonomy" is left.
Expression of popular dissatisfaction with this situation has appeared in popular songs and ditties. The following is a recent example:
In its October 1992 issue, Trend magazine published in Hong Kong disclosed a secret program approved by the Chinese State Council which planned the settlement of five million Chinese in Eastern Turkestan by the year 2000. These figures do not include Chinese Liberation Army (PLA) units, "qualified" Chinese personnel and the convicted Chinese criminals sentenced to hard-labor camps in Eastern Turkestan.
It is estimated that at present there are more than 500 thousand Chinese soldiers in Eastern Turkestan. The number of "qualified" Chinese personnel sent to "help develop an economically backward" Eastern Turkestan is not known. During the last three years more than 40 thousand convicted Chinese criminals have been sent to hard-labor camps in Eastern Turkestan.25 These criminals, sent to labor camps in Eastern Turkestan are not allowed to return to mainland China after their term. Instead they are settled in Eastern Turkestan as "Bintuan" or "reformed farmers," and allowed to invite their families.26 It is estimated that the total number of "reformed farmers" is one million.27
With the "reformed farmers" crime in Eastern Turkestan has also risen sharply. It has been reported that Chinese offenses against Uighurs, including robbery, rape, and kidnapping have gradually increased in recent years. During the same time hundreds of Uighur children have disappeared without any trace. Uighurs claim that these kidnapped children are taken by Chinese to mainland China and sold to Chinese families who do not have children or those who want to have more than the one child allowed by law. Police, mostly Chinese, pay no attention to Uighur complaints and demand money before taking any action. Most of the Uighurs cannot pay this money, and even if they are able they never see any results. Some Uighur parents have claimed that kidnapped children are killed in order to sell their organs.28
With the steady flow of Chinese settlers into Eastern Turkestan Uighurs are faced with the danger of becoming a small minority in their own country.
As a group that made up 75 percent of the total population of Eastern Turkestan in 1953 the Uighur percentage of the population had dropped to 55 percent by 1982 and 40 percent by 1990.29 The Chinese population, on the other hand, which had been at 6 percent in1953, had increased to 40 percent by 1982, and 53 percent in 1990.30
Even Tomur Dawamet, Chairman of the Regional Government, who has often been considered loyal to Chinese interests in Eastern Turkestan had to complain about this situation. In a recent speech he said the following: "...By the way, a considerable floating population has entered Xinjiang and is staying here. This has resulted in a relatively high population growth and has brought about quite a few problems in various fields. We hope that all the departments concerned will do a good job in keeping population under control and will try their best to convince these people to return to their home provinces, so as to ensure social stability and smooth the progress of economic development in this region..."31
Here is a "dirge" whispered from mouth to mouth among the Uighurs on the occasion of a death among the Chinese settlers:
Uighurs who have married Chinese are generally hated by the local people. The locals have no contact with them, do not invite them into their homes, and do not greet them on the street. Some Uighurs who have married Chinese have tried to divorce their wives, but the Chinese have imposed heavy penalties for divorce. An Uighur wanting to divorce his Chinese wife has to pay 4000 Yuan alimony, and as most come from poor families, they are not able to meet such payments. Children born of these marriages are automatically registered as ethnic Chinese. They are normally educated by their mothers and are sent to Chinese kindergartens and schools. Many Uighur fathers have been unable to cope with this situation and have committed suicide.
The Chinese have also established an institute called Chun Tang for the purpose of propagating and encouraging intermarriages between groups. The institute also examines how closely the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan cling to their traditions and reports its findings to the government in Peking. A recent report by the institute found that the sinification process in the cities of Chochek, Gulcha, Altay and Sanchi was a "great success".
After soft-pedaling the new policy for two years, enforcement was stepped up in 1990. In Kashgar, the penalties range from salary cuts to the denial of health benefits34. In Zepu, a small town to the south, the penalty for exceeding the limit is 800 Yuan - nearly twice the average yearly income in Eastern Turkestan.35
A source from Eastern Turkestan who did not want to be identified has reported that in a town of 200 thousand, there were 35 thousand child-bearing women who were subject to government checks. Of that number, 686 women were forced to undergo a curettage, 993 were forced to discontinue their pregnancies and 10,708 women were forced to undergo sterilization. This birth control system has led to the deaths of many women and children, according to the source. In another town, which had a population of 180 thousand, only one thousand women were allowed to give birth to their children. In other words, only one out of 35 women in the city were allowed to deliver a child. In the same town, 40 civil servants were fired from their jobs because their wives were pregnant. The same situation exists throughout the country, according to the source. This directly contradicts China's stated policy of implementing special, preferential population policies for nationalities.
How can "inequities" be eliminated of coercive birth control is practiced among Uighurs on the one hand and almost seven thousand Chinese per day are encouraged by "hardship money" to settle in Eastern Turkestan ? It is clear that the aim of such a policy is to expand the Chinese population in Eastern Turkestan in every way.
An Uighur health official in Urumchi, whose remarks were published by Newsweek magazine on October 1, 1990 said, "If our children are limited, we will disappear."
For many centuries Uighurs have possessed a highly developed literary language. Albert von Lecoq, a European scholar of Uighur culture commented: "The Uighur language and script contributed to the enrichment of civilizations of other peoples in Central Asia. Compared to the Europeans of the Middle Ages, the Uighurs were far more advanced. Documents discovered in Eastern Turkestan prove that an Uighur farmer could write down a contract, using legal terminology. How many European farmers could have done that at the same period ?" Until the Chinese Communist invasion of Eastern Turkestan in 1949, the literary language contained almost no Chinese words.
The traditional Arabic script which the Uighurs had used for almost one thousand years was replaced by the Latin alphabet, adapted to suit Chinese phonology,36 and steps were taken to introduce Chinese words and expressions.37 In the city of Urumchi alone stood some 370 thousand books written in Arabic script, including the Holy Koran, Hadith and other valuable works were destroyed as "remnants of the pasts".38
Twenty years later the Arabic script was reintroduced placing under great strain the tens of thousands of Uighurs who had for two decades received their education in the Latin alphabet. These Uighurs were now obliged to re-learn the Arabic script in order to follow the daily newspapers. Although evening classes were organized to teach the Arabic script, the effort has not been much of a success so far. Members of the same families can only correspond with each other in the Chinese alphabet, because some have been educated in the Latin alphabet and some the Arabic alphabet.
The aim is to destroy the unity of the Uighur literary language.
In the hope of receiving higher education, each year thousands of Uighur students come to the major cities of Eastern Turkestan from different parts of the country. Most of them are very poor. There are no student dormitories and they cannot afford private rooms, but the Chinese government does not support them. Ninety-seven percent of Uighur graduates from senior high schools cannot enter higher education. Very few Uighur students who graduate from higher educational institutions are given jobs appropriate to their qualifications. They are forced to take blue collar jobs, a situation that discourages interest in further study.
The outlook for improved literacy in Eastern Turkestan is not good because Chinese authorities have begun charging 200 Yuan annual fees from students entering elementary, middle and high schools. Those students who want to attend higher educational institution are forced to pay between 1,000 and 4,000 Yuan annually.40 In a country where per capita income is 350 Yuan annually how can Uighur families afford this money to send their children to school ?
Today, only 26 percent of teachers in higher educational institutions are Turkic. In technical schools the rate is 40 percent. The rest are Chinese. All text books used in higher educational institutions and technical schools are in Chinese. Graduates from Uighur language schools have difficulty with examinations at higher educational institutions, because the exam papers are in Chinese. Many Uighur students graduating from Chinese language schools cannot properly speak their mother tongue. To express what they really want to say, they constantly use Chinese words, they forget their traditions, creating strong negative reactions among many Uighurs.
Because more support is given to Chinese language schools, their quality is far higher than Uighur language schools. Chinese language schools can afford many special facilities. They hire qualified teachers and foreign languages like English, Japanese, and Russian are taught in Chinese language schools. Many Uighur language schools in Eastern Turkestan cannot afford to heat classrooms in winter.
Every year thousands of Chinese students are sent to study abroad, but very few Uighur students are given permission to study in foreign countries. In Uighur language schools in major cities in Eastern Turkestan there is a shortage of teachers. In the country and township schools there is an excess. Chinese authorities do not give residence permits to Uighur teachers who want to work in the major cities so that if they are able to find work there they cannot shop in subsidized government stores. They are obliged to buy provisions from the free market and in the long run, with insufficient salaries they are obliged to return to the country.
Fearing persecution, Uighur scholars have been hesitant to write on any topic which is not in the interest of the Chinese Communist Party. If an Uighur scholar writes about Uighur history, culture or civilization he is accused of propagating "nationalism", separatism", or "endangering the unity of the Chinese people and the great motherland". Scholars are punished, their works banned and publishing houses closed.
In May 1991 Chinese authorities launched a scathing attack on three books, The Hun, Ancient Uighur Literature, and The History of the Uighurs published in Eastern Turkestan.41 The books were denounced as efforts to break up the country and create an independent Eastern Turkestan. Although printed by a governmental publishing house the books have been banned. The harshest attack was leveled against The History of the Uighurs by Turgun Almas, a veteran Uighur writer living in Eastern Turkestan.42 It is reported that Turgun Almas has been under house arrest since then. Most scholars researching scientific fields, are Chinese. They write books on Turkic history, culture, civilization, archaeology, folklore, traditions, etc. All these publications are aimed at manipulating history in order to prove that Eastern Turkestan has been a part of China from the Stone Age and to undermine Turkic beliefs, culture and traditions.
This policy has caused tension throughout China as a whole and in Eastern Turkestan in particular. In 1987, hundreds of Kazakh students from six colleges, including the Ili Teachers College, in Eastern Turkestan, went on strike to protest the publication of a novel entitled White House in the Distance in the Chinese Writer's literary bimonthly.43 In the view of the Kazakh students, the character of Saliha, a fickle and lascivious Kazakh woman who lived toward the end of the last century, distorted the habits and customs of the Kazakhs in a way that slandered the Kazakh people as a whole.
In December 1988 hundreds of Uighur students staged a protest against the showing of two films of historical fiction that Uighur students found disrespectful to their race.44 One of the films was about Ipar Han, an 18th century Uighur heroine, who with her husband Jihangir Hoja, the ruler of Eastern Turkestan, fought the Manchu-Chinese. She was captured by Manchu-Chinese soldiers and brought to Peking after Jihangir Hoja had been killed. Later, instead of marrying the Manchu-Chinese emperor, Chien Lung, she killed herself. For this she has become an honored historical symbol among Uighurs as the Mother of Uighur Pride. Chinese film makers' distortion of the historical facts was extremely offensive to Uighurs.
The book, Sex habits, published by Shanghai Cultural House, has seriously besmirched Islam, harmed the religious feelings of Muslims, and aroused strong resentment in China as a whole. In May 1989, thousands of Muslims in China staged protest marches in Peking, Xian, Lanzhou, Ningsha, Qinghai and in several cities in Eastern Turkestan. Thousands of Turkic Muslims who staged a protest in Urumchi attacked the organs of the regional Party Committee, Regional People's Congress Standing Committee, regional Advisory Committee, and the regional Discipline Inspection Committee, creating a serious disturbance rarely seen since the Chinese Communist takeover of Eastern Turkestan. During the clashes three people were killed, 152 people wounded and 53 cars were burned.45
In recent years the Chinese started to transport horses, ponies and donkeys from Eastern Turkestan to China. It is not clear why they want the donkeys but this has caused jokes and piques among the Uighurs. An aged Uighur lady lost her balance after riding a bus and fell on a neatly dressed Chinese couple from Shanghai. The Chinese husband losing his temper, angrily turned to the Uighur lady: "When you don't know how to ride a bus, why don't you ride your donkey." The Uighur lady in composure: "You have taken away to China the donkeys which I could ride and have eaten them up, on what should I ride now."
Until 1949, Eastern Turkestan was famous for its carpets. The carpets woven in Hoten, Yarkent, and Kashgar were exported throughout the world. After 1949 the quality of Eastern Turkestan's carpets gradually declined. The reason was that the high quality wool produced in Hoten was sent to mainland China. The Uighurs do not have the means to import high quality wool.
According to the system, between one and ten mu of land are leased to each person in a family. In some places this figure goes up to 25 mu. One mu is 667 square meters. Under normal conditions one mu in Eastern Turkestan produces almost 250 kg grain which, according to 1988 figures, brings about 100 Yuan. The total cost of farming one mu, including the costs of leasing, water, tractor, seeds etc., is about 65 Yuan leaving a net income from one mu of about 35 Yuan.
If a family of five farms ten mu land, their net income will be about 350 Yuan. The same family will consume approximately 750 kg grain per year at a cost of 300 Yuan. It is impossible for the family to survive on the remaining 50 Yuan. Cooking oil, for example, costs about five Yuan per kg or 200 Yuan annually for the family. A kilogram of meat costs about 13 Yuan, and the family has, of course, many other needs.
At present, Uighur farmers income tends to average only 732 Yuan per year compared with Chinese farmers whose annual income is more than 2,680 Yuan.52
It has been reported by the farmers living near Hoten, Kashgar, Aksu, Kucha, Turfan and Ili, that the land leasing system has brought nothing but misery to hundreds of thousands of farmers in Eastern Turkestan. At present thousands of farmers have returned to their land because they could not pay the leasing costs. According to a 1987 report to the Urumchi government by the Xinjiang Public Relations office in Hoten alone there are 1,7000 farmers without even a house to live in. During the night they sleep by covering themselves with the sands of the Taklamakan desert.
In the southern part of Eastern Turkestan people are dying of starvation. An epidemic of a rare strain of hepatitis caused by poor sanitation has killed 650 Uighurs in the Hoten area in late 1987.53 Similar deaths have been reported from Kargalik, Yarkent, Yenisar and around Kashgar. Before Chinese rule, Uighurs were never faced with problem of famine. Today 80 percent of Uighur children in Eastern Turkestan grow up with poor sanitation. Although Eastern Turkestan has an area of 1.6 million square kilometers, it has little arable land and a low yield grain output. With the steady flow of Chinese settlers into Eastern Turkestan the ratio of cultivated land per inhabitant has shrunk by almost half.54
The new system is also harming the future of hundreds of thousands of Uighur children in Easter Turkestan. As there is no obligatory educational system, instead of sending their children to school, farmers make them work in the field. In the schools of Eastern Turkestan many classes are now empty. Directors of schools send teachers in search of students. fathers demand that teachers guarantee their children will find a job after their studies. Obviously, the teachers cannot make such a guarantee, and the farmers do not send their children to school. If this tendency continues illiteracy among the Uighurs will continue to rise. The situation finds expression in the following lines:
Only ten percent of the 200 thousand industrial workers around the capital, Urumchi, are Uighurs, the rest are Chinese.55 At a textile plant near Urumchi only ten percent of the workers are Uighurs.56 Only 800 of the 12 thousand workers of a textile plant near Kashgar are Uighurs.57 There are 2,100 workers in a tractor factory near Urumchi, but only 13 of them are Uighurs.58 In 1986 a new petro-chemical plant was opened in the city of Poskam, All of the 2,200 workers are Chinese.59 In the vast oil-rich Aksu region of southwest Eastern Turkestan, 70 percent of the 1.74 million population are Uighurs, but almost all of the workers in the fields are Chinese.60
Since 1989, Chinese oil companies have flocked to Eastern Turkestan in search of oil employing some 20,000 workers in the Tarim Basin alone, but almost none of the workers are Uighurs.61 Throughout Eastern Turkestan the same situation exists. Even the tourist guides in Eastern Turkestan are Chinese. They do not have any idea about the history, culture, civilization, religion, traditions, folklore etc. of the Uighurs so that most visitors from foreign countries return with a wrong impression of the Uighurs.
Almost all of the doctors working in the hospitals in Eastern Turkestan are Chinese. They do not speak Uighur and cannot communicate with Uighur patients who have difficulty explaining their problems. In many cases the illness has progressed beyond treatment before the situation can be clearly understood. The salaries paid by the government to doctors is very low and most prefer to treat private patients who can afford to pay cash. While most of the doctors are visiting private patients there are no doctors to care for emergency patients many of whom die on their stretchers before a doctor can be found.
In recent years, cholera and leprosy have become common diseases like Hepatitis. According to a 1988 World Health Organization report a cholera outbreak in Eastern Turkestan infected 3,961 people killing 55.62 According to the annual report released by the Statistical Bureau of Public Health in Peking in March 1994, Eastern Turkestan's death-case ratio was the highest of all China's provinces.
Until 1949, life expectancy in Eastern Turkestan was 65 years. Eastern Turkestan had more centenarians than any other country in Central Asia, with an average of one person per every 15,000.63 Current life expectancy is estimated to be around 40-45.64 The infant mortality rate in Eastern Turkestan is 200 per 1,000.65 At present because of the lack of proper medical treatment results in that almost 70 percent of all illnesses are fatal.66
Since October 14, 1961 there have been 40 nuclear tests at Lop Nor. There are no official figures for the number of nuclear victims in Eastern Turkestan, but it has been reported that almost 210,000 people in Eastern Turkestan have died because of the radioactive fallout.67 Radioactive fallout is causing an increase in human cancer. It has been reported that 10 percent of the population are ill with cancer.68 According to a report released by the Registry of the People's Hospital of Urumchi in 1993, the rate of fatal cancer was only several cases per year in the late 1960s and tens of cases per month in the 1970s. Now reports are of cancer in this hospital number at least 70 a day out of an average 1,500 daily sick visits. As a result, babies with horrible deformities are born. Most important, the polluted districts bordering the nuclear test site do not even receive elementary medical aid. During the almost 30 years of nuclear testing in Eastern Turkestan, no medical investigations have been carried out.
Before 1949, eighteen medreses, existing in the city of Kashgar alone, and up to two thousand students were enrolled in the schools in any given year. But under the pretext of "unification of national education" all schools operated by the mosques were closed and the Uighur children were transferred to other primary schools where Marxism, Leninism and Maoism were taught. 70 Under the pretext that attendance in the mosques, Islamic gatherings and Koran recitations "hindered production", the Chinese Communist prohibited Uighurs from fulfilling their religious duties. Throughout Eastern Turkestan more than 29 thousand mosques were closed and turned into barracks, stables, slaughter houses etc.71 More than 54 thousand Moslem clerics were arrested, tortured and used as forced labor, cleaning sewers.72
After a decade of relative tolerance in the area of religion the Chinese are once again trying to curb the activities of the so-called unofficial Islam, which organizes and provides religious training for Muslims.
Tomur Dawamet, the former Chairman of the Regional Government of Eastern Turkestan, in has said the following:
"...We must maintain high vigilance to be strictly on guard against religious infiltration of hostile forces from abroad. Strong measures against the tiny majority of people carrying out reactionary propaganda to sabotage the national unity and stability under the cloak of religion. All illegal religious activity must be stopped. religion cannot interfere in state administration, the administration of justice, education, marriage, culture and health. No permission will be given to build new mosques. Private Koran courses will not be allowed. It is not allowed to restore religious privilege and exploitation which have already been wiped out..."73
Huang Baozhang, Deputy Chairman of the Regional Government of Eastern Turkestan, in a recent press conference in Beijing told foreign reporters that "people have smuggled reactionary materials inside copies of the Koran." He said "calling for independence is a counter-revolutionary crime. We oppose religious infiltration."74
Similar statements have been made by Hamidin Niyaz, Deputy Secretary of the Regional Party Committee. Son Hanliang. Secretary of the Regional Party Committee and Ismail Ahmet China's State Minister for Minority Affairs. 75 The number of mosques opened in Eastern Turkestan has not been sufficient to meet the needs of the Muslims. In many places in Eastern Turkestan Muslims have undertaken restoration, renovation and building of new Mosques, but it has been reported that since 1991 some 1,500 Mosques in Eastern Turkestan have been closed by the Chinese authorities on the grounds that these Mosques were built without permission.76 Construction on 153 Mosques has been discontinued in 1993. 77
At present there are no private religious schools in Eastern Turkestan and private religious instruction is banned. It has been reported that in official religious schools religion is taught only as a negative example with 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 Muslim children have moved away from Islamic beliefs. It is only in day-to-day activities that Islamic teachings can be passed on.
Today, there is a shortage of clerics, Korans and Islamic publications. Since 1991 some 25 religious workers have been purged for disloyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. Investigations have been initiated on around 12,000 religious figures and 500 religious personalities have been punished for "illegal religious activities".78 Today, the Muslims of Eastern Turkestan do not have a single Islamic publication in their language.
The reason for the particularly severe political oppression by the Chinese Communists on Islam is that it is regarded as a major shield against the Chinese Communist policy of assimilating the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan. The Chinese Communists believe that before eliminating the belief they cannot assimilate the believers.
In April 1991 World Monitor published remarks by another Uighur: "... The Uighurs, Kazakhs, and the Kyrgyz are the real owners of Xinjiang. Being part of China is means we are the minority. That has been a disaster for development. It is better for us to be independent. Then we will be the majority. the Chinese want to keep us down, because they know if we are given opportunities we can be strong..."
The following comments by an Eastern Turkestani were published in The Wall Street Journal on October 21,1994: "...The people have no clothes, no food. The Hans have taken away all our raw materials. I am one of the masses, and I do not have any work. When there is coal I haul it for five or ten Yuan. That is hard earned money. But the Hans, they live very well. Oil, gold, coal, cotton - what does not Xinjiang have ? Why then is Xinjiang poor..."
In order to defend their country, preserve their cultural identity and uphold their religious beliefs, Uighurs staged 58 major uprisings against the Chinese Communists during the years 1949 and 1968.79 Between 1950 and 1972, 360 thousand Uighurs who stood up to defend their legitimate rights were executed.80 More than 200 thousand fled to neighboring countries,81 and more than 500 thousand were driven into the 29 hard-labor camps in Eastern Turkestan.82 It has been reported that since December 1985 and May 1994 Uighurs have staged several fierce demonstrations in all major cities, counties and townships in Eastern Turkestan demanding self-rule, democratic elections of Uighurs to replace Chinese officials assigned by Peking, economic self-determination, increased educational opportunities for Uighurs at home and abroad, an end to the practice of sending convicted Chinese criminals to Eastern Turkestan and a halt to nuclear testing in the country.83 At local party and government meetings, some Uighur cadres have openly stated that "the formulation that 'Xinjiang has been a part of China since the ancient past' lacks historical basis." They have asserted that, "the idea that 'the Chinese nationality is inseparable from minority nationalities, and that minority nationalities are inseparable from the Chinese nationality' lacks theoretical basis," and they have spread views which expressed discontent with the present state of affairs and advocated "ethnic self-determination."84 Since April 5, 1990, three major armed uprisings have been reported in the Baren township near Kyrgyz border, in the northern city of Choechek close to Kazakhstan and in the city of Karakash in southern part of Eastern Turkestan.85 Between February 1992 and June 1994 bombs exploded in several major cities of Eastern Turkestan.86 In recent years railway lines and oil fields in Eastern Turkestan have been frequently attacked by groups of people causing heavy losses. In order to cope with the increasing number of attacks Chinese authorities have formed a paramilitary force to coordinate with the PLA units to protect the railway lines in the country.87
At present, slogans pamphlets and big and small character posters demanding self-determination are distributed throughout Eastern Turkestan.88
Five major Uighur organizations are reported to have met secretly in Gulja in September 1994 in order to unite their efforts in behalf of democracy, human rights and self-determination in Eastern Turkestan. The organization are the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Party, the Eastern Turkestan People's Party, the Eastern Turkestan Gray Wolf Party, the Eastern Turkestan Independence Organization and the Eastern Turkestan Liberation Front.
Among the "strong" measures Chinese authorities in Eastern Turkestan have adopted to crack down on "separatists" has been the doubling of security forces in the cities, townships and counties.90 Recent visitors to Eastern Turkestan say that major cities in the country look like police stations.91
Uighurs seeking only to live with dignity are arrested, tortured, and even executed accused of advocating "ethnic self-determination". In 1993 and the first five months of 1994, 4,068 "hostile elements" were arrested throughout Eastern Turkestan.92 In the first three months of 1995, 310 Uighurs were arrested.93 At present there are thousands of political prisoners in Eastern Turkestan. Many are reported to have been severely tortured. The death penalty is extensively used in Eastern Turkestan. According to Amnesty International, the number of death sentences imposed in Eastern Turkestan, is proportional much higher than in the rest of China.94 It has also been reported that six Uighurs were executed on March 16,1994, in various parts of Eastern Turkestan charged with being "counterrevolutionaries."95
Tens of thousands of Uighurs have been removed by force from Eastern Turkestan's border with Western Turkestan and Chinese settlers have been moved in to replace them.96
Since August 1991, top Chinese leaders have visited Eastern Turkestan warning Uighurs against unrest, and calling on the PLA to rally around the Chinese Communist Party, closely follow the socialist road and strengthen the borders.97 Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng, during a trip to several Central Asian republics in April 1994, exerted pressure on Turkic leaders there not to support "separatists" in Eastern Turkestan.98 The official Chinese line is that "elements abroad are inciting separatists sentiments", which is consistent with Chinese attempts to blame others for disturbnces in Eastern Turkestan. In the 1950s the Chinese accused "American Paper Tigers" of encouraging unrest in Eastern Turkestan. In the 1960s they attacked the "Soviet Hegemonists". They now blame Isa Yusuf Alpekin, an almost 95-year-old Eastern Turkestani leader living in Turkey.99 It is very unfortunate that the Chinese have never considered their own unjust rule in Eastern Turkestan as a main contributor to so many armed clashes, disputes and street demonstrations.
The famous Chinese philosopher Wan Fu Zi, who lived in the 17th century wrote as follows: "It is no injustice to conquer the lands of the barbarians. It is not an inhuman act to kill barbarians. It is not dishonest to deceive barbarians."101
Hung-chi, then the ideological organ of the Chinese Communist Party, wrote the following in August 1977: "..Chinese chauvinism, which has always existed in China, is just as strong today as it ever was. Chinese Chauvinists are against non-Chinese nations being granted any rights whatsoever. Although the Communist party of China is waging a struggle against these chauvinists, this struggle has not been very successful..."
The Chinese have a wise saying, "yi yi zhi yi" which means "rule a barbarian through a barbarian". They have another proverb, "ning zhing weygo bugi jano," which means, "I might make concessions to distant lands, but I shall permit no right to the bondsman under my own rule."
Correspondent William Sexton of Newsday magazine, wrote in the July 27, 1982 issue: "...Most of the Chinese sent to Xinjiang from the east disdain the Central Asians as 'Yenan' meaning 'Barbarian' despite their centuries of cultural enrichment from Western civilizations at least as advanced as China's..."
Andrew Higgins, correspondent of the Independent, in its October 20,1988 issue: "..For sheer racial venom, not even the Ku Klux Klan could have done better. 'Make Uighur men our slaves forever and take Uighur women as prostitutes for generations', said a graffiti on a lavatory door at the University of Urumchi. For Uighurs, the graffiti gave public voice to a racial arrogance that is usually expressed in acts rather than words..."
The German Weekly, Der Spiegel on August 16, 1993: "..The Chinese rule in Xinjiang is in every respect a colonial phenomena. Although they have lived in this country for decades none of the Chinese officials speak the local language. They are not interested in the country where they earn their living. They undermine the local peoples' customs. In brief, the Chinese officials hate the local people..."
At present, the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan are forced to choose between national extinction through gradual assimilation and a mortal struggle to defend their cultural identity. Many experts believe that if the Uighurs are forced to choose a heroic resistance and stage a major revolt, it will not only lead to self-destruction, but at the same time it could spread to Tibet and Inner Mongolia and destabilize peace in Central Asia as a whole.
A major revolt in Eastern Turkestan, Tibet and Inner Mongolia would certainly have an effect on hundreds of millions of discontented Chinese. China's Communist regime has lately not been able to conceal increasingly grave problems from outsiders. In addition to Uighurs, Tibetans, and Inner Mongolians, there are almost 100 million other non-Chinese in China. An 86-page internal Chinese report recently stressed that China might break apart like Yugoslavia soon after Deng Xiaping dies. According to the report, that could happen if the Chinese Central government does not take drastic steps to adopt a U.S. style federal system. A recent study conducted by the University of Maryland for the U.S. Defense Department said China would be up for grabs once Deng Xiaping passes away and Deng's death would create a political vacuum for both conservatives and reformers to move into, adding that there was a 50-50 chance that the transition would lead to a USSR-style breakup of China.
Uighurs living abroad have played an active role in pacifying their countrymen at home. However, the Uighurs living at home are gradually loosing hope, largely because of disinterest among the international community.
Hopelessness can lead to violence. If the international community does not want to see another Yugoslavia, Rwanda, or Chechnya then they must seriously consider the grievances, desires and the demands of the Uighurs with the aim of helping and assisting to mollify the tense situation in Eastern Turkestan. The international community must reverse the general feeling among the world's oppressed that their voice can be heard only when amplified by methods of international terrorism.
Uighurs urge the United Nations to raise the issue of Eastern Turkestan in the General Assembly and to send a fact-finding mission to Eastern Turkestan to assess first-hand the actual situation there. The peoples of Eastern Turkestan have been deeply disappointed by the continued indifference of the United Nations to the boiling problems in their country. Uighurs do not believe that by avoiding problems, problems will go away.
The Uighur community abroad urges the international community to influence China, to persuades the Chinese leadership to take immediate steps to ease the tense situation in Eastern Turkestan peacefully and to the mutual satisfaction of all sides. We also urge the Chinese leadership to sit down with the representatives of Eastern Turkestan to find peaceful solutions to the problems that plague our peoples.
The only realistic alternative for the Uighurs of Eastern Turkestan is self-determination. The federalism suggested by the internal Chinese report could, however, offer a temporary solution to the tense situation which exists not only in Eastern Turkestan, but in Tibet, Inner Mongolia and China itself.