On Monday October 1st Chinese communist government will celebrate the 63rd anniversary of its creation. On the same day we will hold demonstration against the very same regime in front of Chinese consulate in Toronto. We, are Uyghur people, Turkic speaking Muslims from so-called Xinjiang* region of China. Twice in the past century we have succeeded in gaining our independence from then nationalist China (respectively in 1933 and 1944) but alas dreams were short lived. In the days following Mao's proclamations of the People's Republic of China establishment the Red Liberation Army invaded our homeland Eastern Turkistan.
For the past 63 years Uyghur people experienced the "best" of imposed Chinese socialist paradise. The list of grievances is long but to name a few note - the systematic state sponsored program of assimilation of natives of the region, denial of basic human rights, arbitrary detention and prosecution, forced atheist indoctrination of Uyghur youth, mass migration of ethnic Han Chinese from interior into the region, more than fifty open air nuclear explosions, demolition of historic UNESCO protected sites in the name of modernity and so on and on...
In the recent weeks we have witnessed the rise of tensions between China and Japan over disputed islands. The Chinese demonstrators who took into the streets were carrying portraits of Mao and expressing their fury over alleged historic sufferings caused by colonial militaristic Japan. While their anger might be authentic and not orchestrated by Chinese state we would like to remind that ethnic minorities in China (Tibetan, Mongols and Uyghur alike) suffering what we called cultural genocide NOW. We wish to remind that historic justice-seeking should start within inner itself and understanding that by denying freedom to others one cannot be free himself.
Xinjiang means “New Territory” in Chinese. Xinjiang is an exonym that is only applied by the Chinese authorities. The endonym as used by the Uyghur people is East Turkistan. This difference in name is in the same mold as the exonym and endonym naming of Tibet: Tibet is the endonym used by the Tibetans, Xizang (roughly translated as “Western Treasure Vault”) is the exonym used by the Chinese authorities.
Within the last 30 years China achieved a lot, pulled out from poverty millions of its citizen, opened up its markets for outside world. However, long awaited political reforms are yet be implemented. The economic prosperity is the only legitimate tool Chinese Communists with which they can sustain their power hold. The ideological vacuum left post-USSR was filled in by extreme Chinese nationalist rhetoric . Those who call to honor proper Chinese law which guarantees greater autonomy to minorities are persecuted. Uyghurs, like Tibetan and Mongol people deserve better future. WUC (World Uyghur Congress) the umbrella organization uniting Uyghurs in exile, called repeatedly Chinese authorities to dialogue and resolution of the tense situation in the East Turkistan but the later is resolute in denying the painful obvious reality.
And the last but not least, let us Canadians, remember Huseyn Celil, an ethnic Uyghur Canadian who is serving life sentence in Urumchi prison for his political activities. His detention is a clear signal of Chinese authorities to exile groups that we cannot feel secure and that Communist China has means and resources to punish dissidents even outside China.
Yet, again on this National Day of People's Republic of China, October 1st we will be standing in front of Chinese Consulate and we be the voice for voiceless people.
President of Uyghur Canadian Society