Some time ago, in a previous blogging identity, I raised the problems of the Uyghurs in East Turkistan (known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the occupying Chinese). I noted how the Chinese government was using the fact that the Uyghurs are Muslim to build up resentment against them in the West. It is much easier to do this with regard to East Turkistan than it is with Tibet, because nobody hates Tibetan Buddhists just for being Buddhists.
After all, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is only autonomous to the transplanted ethnic Han population who rule it. For the Uyghurs, complete autonomy from Beijing is exactly what they want. Outside communist doublespeak, “complete autonomy” is another term for independence. Yet Xinjiang has long been one of the most tightly controlled regions claimed by the Chinese government.
Here’s how things work in East Turkistan. Chinese officials claim that 156 died in violence that erupted from protests (originally about how Uyghur workers had been killed in a toy factory in Guangdong province) on Sunday and that most of those killed were Han. Chinese officials – never a very trustworthy lot – then arrested 1400 Uyghurs. About 200 Uyghur women, understandably unhappy about the 1400 arrests, decided to protest to appeal for the freedom of the detainees. They were confronted with riot police.
On Tuesday, some of the Han population in Urumqi (the capital of East Turkistan) then rampaged through the Uyghur parts of the city with clubs and machetes, smashing up businesses.
As is their common practice, the Chinese authorities don’t want the outside world to get unfiltered information. They shut down internet service and international telephone service in Urumqi. I think it is a good idea to fear a government that fears the truth.
The only just resolution to the current violence and more importantly to the suppression of the Uyghur people is true autonomy. They should have the right of self-determination. When the left in the US and elsewhere complain about what they perceive to be right-wing American imperialism I marvel at the short-sightedness of not seeing the true imperialism of their fellow socialists, the Chinese government. I am also ashamed of the governments of other nations in the world (especially the US and UK) for not taking a stronger stand. No one wants to offend the Chinese government.