The Uyghur

The Uyghur: A Discussion on Contemporary Political, Social and Economic Circumstances.

1. Introduction

Of the 55 recognised cultural minorities in China, Uyghur are the 5th largest with a population of 8.3 million. The bulk of Uyghur in China resides in Xinjiang, peculiarly within the Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region ( XUAR ) . Subsequent to the earlier July Urumqi riots the Uyghur have gained international attending in regard of their privation of independency. This essay is designed to briefly sketch the political, societal and economic fortunes of the Uyghur by researching the statements for and against independency.

2. A Brief History

The Uyghur originated from the Mongolian nucleus lands of the Orkhon River Valley ( Sharpe, 2004 ) . Throughout history, the original Uyghur was known to hold established the imperium Uyghur Khaghanate. When the imperium was destroyed, the group became mobile and was forced to travel south, finally scattering near Tian Shan, in the country presently known as Urumqi and Turpan.

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Uyghur independency motions started in 1933. The primary purpose was to make a autonomous province called East Turkistan in the part presently known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China ( XUAR ) . The Uyghur population achieved two periods of ephemeral independency during 1933-1949. By 1949, the People ‘s Liberation Army of China won the civil war and XUAR was therefore born.


Arguments for Uyghur independency are mostly human rights based. The major concern is that the usage of ‘separatism ‘ by the Chinese authorities in excusing native spiritual patterns and linguistic communications will ensue in the loss of civilization. To day of the month, the Uyghur civilization still identifies more strongly to the Turkic cultural traits than the Eastern Han opposite number ( Wilson, 2008 ) . In contrast, the Han position that since XUAR is portion of the fatherland, its dwellers should pattern the Eastern civilization regardless. From 1949, the figure of Han colonists in XUAR rose dramatically from less than half a million to over 7.5 million in the present twenty-four hours. Contingent to this inflow of colonists is a limitation on civilization and an addition privation of absorbing the Uyghur into Hans. Prior to 2001, these were evinced in 2 major ways ( Wilson, 2008 ) :

1 ) Academics with opposite political point of views for ‘inciting segregation ‘ were imprisoned randomly in misdemeanor of international human rights criterions. Namely the right to freedom of idea, look and sentiment.
2 ) Uyghur were non allowed to freely pattern their faith Sunni Islam. In peculiar civil retainers were non allowed to have on face funguss or headscarves, nor to go to a mosque. Travel limitations were besides imposed to forbid the public presentation of Haj pilgrim’s journey. By mid-2008, no Uyghur were allowed to keep passports.

4. 1 Situation AFTER 2001

The state of affairs turned for the worse in 2001. After the 9/11 incident the PRC authorities used the stalking-horse of contending terrorist act to escalate cultural controls. Concerns rapidly spread throughout the international community on the possible breaches of Human Rights. Stringent controls were placed on the freedom of address, faith and look of cultural individuality. In peculiar Uyghur were targeted because of their Islamic patterns ; mosques were closed down and Muslim clergies were detained ( World Movement for Democracy, 2009 ) .

A elaborate study summarised four methods adopted by the PRC in 2007 to stamp down domestic and international political militants ( Uyghur Human Rights Project UHRP, 2007 ) :

1. ‘Placing accent on the dainty of ‘terrorism ‘ in XUAR without supplying believable grounds of a menace.
2. Originating a series of ‘security ‘ runs in XUAR that have resulted in serious human rights maltreatments.
3. Uses its influence within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to seek the return of Uyghur from China ‘s neighbouring states in misdemeanor of international jurisprudence
4. Attempted to act upon abroad Uyghur militants by hassling their household members who remain in XUAR. ‘


Two months after the 9/11 incident and despite public unfavorable judgments, the PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan announced in an UN conference:

‘East Turkestan terrorist forces have long received preparation, fiscal assistance and support from international terrorist groups… East Turkestan is… a portion of international terrorist act and should be resolutely fought against ‘ ( quoted in UHRP, 2007 ) .

The allegation was directed at a group named Turkestan Islamic Movement ( ETIM ) , which was finally placed on the UN panic list by 2002 despite President Bush ‘s initial refusal to be associated with the averments. Academicians have later questioned the timing of this political tactic ( Lam, 2002 ; quoted in UHRP, 2007 ) . The USA agreed to set ETIM on the list instantly anterior to the invasion of Iraq. A confederacy exists avering that the USA did so in exchange for an abstinence ballot from China in the UN Security Council for their invasion ( Lam, 2002 ; quoted in UHRP, 2007 ) . To day of the month, faculty members continued to print articles, chiefly reasoning that no significant grounds can be put frontward to solidify China ‘s claim ( UHRP, 2007 ) . The ETIM group was finally removed from the list in 2007 and placed in the “Groups of Concern” list in the US. Nonetheless, UN ‘s 2002 move in puting ETIM on the terrorist list merely encouraged more Han migration into XUAR to Sinicize the part and act as an inducement for PRC to unreasonably hold most Uyghur organisations as terrorist groups. By 2003, groups such as World Uyghur Youth Congress and East Turkestan Information Centre were labelled as terrorists ( UHRP, 2007 ) . Yet in the present, China continues to do baseless accusals against Uyghur groups, avering that the presence of confederations with Al-Qaeda, cabaling to nobble senior functionaries and organizing ‘terrorist cantonments ‘ . The latter resulted in a foray killing 18 ETIM members and capturing 17 ( Presse- Agentur, 2007 ; quoted in UHRP, 2007: 3 ) .

Breachs of Human Rights are of a grave concern by the international population. Arrested Uyghurs become victims of physical maltreatment deprived of just test rights. Incidents of barbarous tormenting chiefly for, but surely non limited to, the intents of obtaining confessions are confirmed by the Amnesty International and UN functionaries ( Amnesty, 2004 ) . These include heavy whippings with electric daze wands, coffin nail Burnss, submergence in sewerage and want of nutrient. Freedom of address was besides mostly affected. Any opposing political point of views, including those projected peacefully in the signifier of verse forms, vocals, books, booklets, letters or the Internet were deemed as ‘separatist ‘ or ‘terrorists ‘ and are reprehensively indicted ( Amnesty, 2002 ) . Victims frequently faced long periods of imprisonments as a consequence ( Amnesty, 2002 ) . A study from the Committee to Protect Journalists documented the history of a Uyghur author who is presently functioning 10 old ages of imprisonment subsequent to his publication of a fictional narrative about a pigeon which committed self-destruction because it was unable to get away its coop ( Committee to Protect Journalists, 2004 ; quoted in UHRP, 2007 ) . Harmonizing to the Chinese functionaries the narrative was sufficient to amount to an offense of motivating segregation. The publishing house of the Journal was besides sentenced for three old ages.


Two signifiers of control were placed over Uyghur populating outside Chinese boundary lines. These were enlisted in the 3rd and 4th points in the above.

The first control was the formation of a Shanghai Cooperation Organization ( SCO ) in 1996 between China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It was seen as a means to carry all states with Uyghur dwellers to unify against terrorist act. From 2007, more than 6,500 military personnels were sent by the 5 states to take part in ‘anti-terrorism ‘ exercisings in Urumqi ( UHRP, 2007 ) . The graduated table of the military exercisings convinced some faculty members that the true purpose of the event was to intimidate and command Uyghur ( UHRP, 2007 ) . All states in the bilateral understanding were besides obliged to forcefully return Uyghur citizens to PRC for executing or imprisonments, frequently without just test rights. This is arguably a misdemeanor of the international legal rule of non-refoulement.

The 2nd signifier of control may besides be deemed as a misdemeanor of international jurisprudence. Allegations were made against the PRC for aiming household members of abroad Uyghur political militants in order to stamp down their activities. Widely publicised, the narrative of democracy militant Rebiya Kadeer is a celebrated illustration. As a successful concern adult female, Kadeer offered employment and preparation for the Uyghur community in her big trading company. She was subsequently appointed as a standing member of the XUAR Chamber of Commerce and founded the Thousand Mothers Movement to advance adult females ‘s rights and economic security ( Amnesty, 2005 ) . Kadeer became a prominent and influential figure of the Uyghur community. In 1999 Kadeer was sentenced for 8 old ages of imprisonment for ‘providing secret information to aliens ‘ based on transporting a transcript of a publicly-distributed local newspaper on her manner to run into with US congressional delegates. She was subsequently released mostly due to international force per unit areas in 2005 and was put on ‘medical word ‘ . PRC grew concerned of her influential repute and rapidly exiled her to the United States on the same twelvemonth. Later in 2005, Kadeer ‘s boies were detained for revenue enhancement equivocation and ‘attempting to split the state ‘ . Menaces on the safety of the boies were made against Kadeer prior to her election for the president of the World Uyghur Congress. Subsequent to winning the election and instantly after her assignment, both boies were sentenced for 7 and 9 old ages imprisonment severally for the aforesaid charges ( Amnesty, 2005 ) .

5. SUBSTANTIAL Economic Development: Argument FOR INDEPENDENCE

Despite the alleged breaches of international jurisprudence, the significant economic developments initiated by PRC in XUAR since 1950s should non be disregarded. The betterments are grounds to demo that Uyghur population were benefiters under the PRC authorities. The developments were foremost started by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps ( XPCC ) and go on to spread out to the present twenty-four hours.


The XPCC was granted the primary duties of cultivating and guarding the China frontier. It is a quasi- governmental administration with its ain administrative and judicial organic structures. Harmonizing to the 9th PRC Government White Paper of 2004, accomplishments of the XPCC were significant and influential over the development of agribusiness, forestry, carnal farming, sideline production and piscaries. Equally good as edifice H2O conservancy works, the XPCC besides reclaimed Taklimakan and Gurbantunggut barrens, reconstructing it to webs of oases, immediate Fieldss, crisscrossing canals and omnipresent wood belts and radiating roads ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . A modern industry within XUAR was bit by bit formed. With light and textile industries as its nucleus, the multi-sector industrial system developed farther to include Fe, steel, coal, edifice stuffs, electricity, chemicals and machinery industries ; instruction, scientific discipline and engineering shortly followed ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . After a short disintegration between 1975 to 1981, in 2001 the XPCC built irrigation plants, sandbreaks and forest belts, green barriers and new oases over an country of 1.064 million hour angle ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . In footings of frontier defense mechanism, the XPCC fulfils its duty utilizing a ‘four-in-one ‘ system ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . The People ‘s Liberation Army, the Armed Police, the XPCC and civilians all participated in some signifier of internal and external political agitations in XUAR.

5.2 Economic Developments

Noteworthy societal and economic developments in XUAR include agribusiness, H2O conservancy, enlargement of communications and transits, foreign trade and touristry. These were discussed in the fifth PRC Government White Paper 2004.

Further to the agricultural developments initiated by the XPCC, forte gardening and accomplishments on farm animal genteelness by agricultural scientific discipline have emerged in the past few old ages. By 2001, the part had 46.0378 million caput of farm animal and became the largest manufacturer of trade good cotton and major manufacturer of beet-sugar ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . Industries founded before by the XPCC such as oil, petrochemicals, steel, coal, electric power, fabric and edifice stuffs besides continues to beef up ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . Water conservancy developments have been singular. The launch of large-scale H2O conservancy undertakings such as Kizil Reservoir and the Ulug Ata cardinal H2O control undertaking in Hotan have increased the entire country of irrigated Fieldss to 3.388 million hour angle ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) .

Possibly the most drastic modern-day economic developments in XUAR are in the countries of conveyance and engineerings. Although the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway reached Urumqi by 1962, it has continued to spread out with over 1000km of extension and dual trailing ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . The Taklimakan Desert main road is besides a landmark. As the first long-distance graded main road built on switching sand, it covers the full part and is backboned by seven national main roads linking XUAR to Gansu and Qinghai states in the E ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . Further, Xinjiang besides has 11 airdromes despatching international and domestic flights ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . Developments of Internet and telephone connexions throughout the part are besides a notable betterment.

Finally, foreign trade and touristry are newest economic subscribers of the part. The sum of XUAR ‘s exports and imports can amount to US $ 1.77 billion in a given twelvemonth and is yearly lifting ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) . XUAR therefore remains as an of import part of opening China ‘s boundary line to the outside universe. Tourism as a immature flourishing industry besides earns over 7.18 billion kwais yearly ( PRC Government White Paper, 2004 ) .

6. Decision

The current political, societal and economic fortunes of XUAR are mostly rested upon the tensenesss between the Uyghur and Han communities. While important economic developments in XUAR should mostly be accredited to the PRC, the benefits of which failed to outweigh the jobs founded by ongoing political tensenesss between the parties. The July public violence was therefore merely a flicker that set off a clicking time-bomb laid down since the 1950s.


Amnesty International, 2002 China: China ‘s Anti-Terrorism Legislation and Repression in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, hypertext transfer protocol: //, Website accessed 27/09/2009.

Amnesty International, 2004 People ‘s Republic of China: Uigurs Fling Persecution as China Wages its “War on Terror” , hypertext transfer protocol: //, Website accessed 27/09/2009.

Amnesty International, 2005 Reibya Kadeer, Prisoner of Conscience: Reibya Kadeer has been Released! , hypertext transfer protocol: // id=1101237, Website accessed 27/09/2009.

Uyghur Human Rights Project ( UHRP ) , 2007 Persecution of Uyghurs in the Era of the “War on Terror” , hypertext transfer protocol: //, Website accessed 28/09/2009.

PRC Government White Papers, 2004 V. The Economic Development of Xinjiang After the Founding of New China.

PRC Government White Papers, 2004 IX. Establishment, Development and Role of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Sharpe, M. 2004 China ‘s Muslim Borderland, Central Asia- Caucasus Institute, USA: 40.

Wilson, L. 2008 Sinkiang: China ‘s ‘other Tibet ‘ , hypertext transfer protocol: //, Website accessed 28/09/2009.

World Movement for Democracy, 2009 Profile: The Uyghur Community in China, hypertext transfer protocol: //, Website accessed 27/09/2009.


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