Uyghurs stand up to China over East Turkistan - August
Uyghurs stand up to China over East Turkistan
By Matthew Burrows
Although pro-Tibetan rallies have been going on in
Vancouver for a long time, the Uyghur community here is
just now coming out of the shadows, with representatives
like political refugee Omerjan Böre.
Böre is from the city of Kashgar in the former East
Turkistan, a mostly Muslim area in China's west, now in
the vast Xinjiang region. Böre wants independence from
China for East Turkistan, and he allies himself with the
Tibetan cause. He claims the Uyghur region has been
under Chinese rule "since 1949". China invaded and
occupied Tibet in 1959 after its initial 1951 incursion
into eastern Tibet.
"We support Tibetans; we are in the same situation,"
Böre told the Georgia Straight, standing in front of the
gates at the Chinese Consulate on Granville Street
during an August 7 rally. "We believe we are now being
heard and one day we will get independence. Tibetans are
called separatists and Uyghurs are called terrorists.
The international community must understand the
difference between separatist, terrorist, and freedom
After a protest earlier the same day at the Vancouver
Art Gallery, representatives from the China Human Rights
Coalition, Students for a Free Tibet, and the Canada
Tibet Committee, several Falun Gong practitioners, and
one carrier of a fake Olympic torch marched to the
Chinese Consulate, where they joined four Uyghurs waving
traditional blue East Turkistan flags. Böre said he was
the only one who would go on record, as his friends were
"scared" of reprisal.
Visibly shaking at one point as protesters filed onto
the sidewalk, the lean Böre yelled into the loudspeaker:
"What do we want? Human rights. When do we want it?
Böre said he cannot wave an East Turkistan flag in his
hometown or say "East Turkistan" within earshot of
Chinese government officials.
"They will shoot you," he said.
Vancouver's Chinese vice consul, Wang Zeliang, told the
Straight that "the government of China has reiterated
again and again that the human-rights situation in both
Tibet and the Xinjiang region have improved a great
"We are still making great progress," Zeliang said by
phone August 12. "There is no country in the world that
is perfect in the human-rights situation. We admit that
in China there might be some human-rights issues, but we
will work on that. They are not severe enough for those
people to protest in front of the consulate. I think
those people are overdoing it. They want to exaggerate
it and attract more attention."
In the mostly Muslim town of Kuqa and surrounding areas
on August 12, police allegedly arrested 90 Uyghurs for a
spate of bombings that left a dozen people dead,
according to CBC. In an August 5 government news release
posted on the Vancouver Chinese Consulate's Web site,
Xinjiang police claimed they had arrested 18 members of
the "East Turkestan Islamic Movement" so far this year.
"They are trying to turn 2008 into a year of mourning
and a year of terror," Shi Dagang, Communist party
secretary of Kashgar, is quoted as saying in the same
Tenzin Lhalungpa, president of the Vancouver chapter of
the Canada Tibet Committee, urged the West to exercise
caution when listening to Chinese government claims that
terrorist tactics are being used.
"This incident that they are saying happened at this [Kashgar]
border crossing, I think China has to show more proof,"
Lhalungpa told the Straight. "The onus should be on
them, because we know about manufactured trials in China
and manufactured evidence. If this was really a
terrorist attack-one report I heard was it was some
disgruntled workers trying to make a payback. Everything
in China seems to be used by China towards their own
ends. This is just used to try to justify a further
crackdown in Urumqi and Kashgar and places like that."
Böre said he does not belong to the ETIM but noted that
he is a member of the German-based pro-independence
World Uyghur Congress and the Toronto-based Uyghur
Celil allowed to meet with mother, sister
- (Oct 13 2008)
China: Uighur Writer Detained
(Oct 09 2008)
US Court of Appeals blocks
release of Guantánamo Uighurs as government resorts to
‘scare tactics’ - (10 October 2008)
2 Chinese Policemen Killed, 7
Wounded in Xinjiang - ( 8/28/2008 )
Two police die in Xinjiang clash
- ( 8/28/2008 )
US disappointed Olympics didn't
open China more - ( 8/24/2008 )
Few answers in violence-hit
Xinjiang - ( 8/16/2008 )