June 30, 2008 Leave a comment
Communist China has been practicing two kinds of genocide in East Turkistan since 1949. One is racial genocide and the second is cultural genocide. In my presentation today, I would like to highlight the most important features of the cultural genocide in East Turkistan.
The main object of the half-century-long cultural genocide is the total elimination of the national essence and culture of East Turkistan. Communist China initiated its cultural genocide policy by renouncing the name “East Turkistan,” which is the national and historical name of this region. Despite the establishment of two independent states called “the Republic of East Turkistan” in the region (the first in 1933, and the second in 1944), Beijing has insisted on designating East Turkistan as “Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region” since 1949. The aim of Communist China is to prohibit the usage of the historical term “East Turkistan” which may remind the local people of the sovereignty of their region from China. Thus, Beijing has been claiming the region as a historic part of China.
The continued fear in the Chinese administration of the term “East Turkistan” can be seen from a recent official publication in Urumchi, the capital of the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region (East Turkistan). Fing Dachin, the author of the preface to the book, “The Study on Pan-Islamism and Pan-Turkism,” published in 1994, explains how dangerous is the term East Turkistan as follows:
What is the agenda of the national separatists? In short, they propagate the liberation of East Turkistan. In history, some Western scholars called the Xinjiang region “East Turkistan,” but this terminology is not scientific. At the beginning of this century [twentieth century], this term gained a deep political meaning after the noisy outcry of the Pan-Turkists about the “independence of East Turkistan.” The national separatists following those Pan-Turkists have continued to rename Xinjiang with that term and this act has caused separatism. Because of this, in our opinion this name is a reactionary political term and the government of our state has never acknowledged it.(2)
The Chinese government’s objection to “East Turkistan” still continues. On 11 October 2001, the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministery, Sun Yuxi, expressed a similar attitude at a press conference in Peking as follows: “We believe that our fight against the East Turkistan terrorists is also part and parcel of the international effort to combat terrorists.” (Associated Press, 11 October 2001). This clearly demonstrates that Communist China attempts to set up a connection between the term East Turkistan and terrorism. Despite Peking’s efforts, Western states have never conceded to China’s claims and warned China about very serious human rights abuses in East Turkistan and Tibet.
During the last half-century, the national and historical names of the cities, towns, mountains, rivers, and lakes in East Turkistan have been replaced with Chinese words as follows (the first names show Chinese replacements and the bold second ones are the national names of the towns): A Ke Su (Aksu), A Ke Tao (Aktav), A Er Tai (Altay), A Tu Shi (Artuş), Ba Li Kuen (Ba Li Kuen), Yi Ning (Gulca), He Tian (Hoten), Ka Shi (Qaşghar), Fu Weng (Köktoqay), Ha Mi (Kumul), Tu Lu Fan (Turpan), Wu Lu Mu Qi (Urumchi), Wu Shi (Üchturpan), etc.
Chinese government maintains the argument that there are no Turkic peoples in Xinjiang (East Turkistan), but several minorities such as the Uyghurs and Qazaqs who have been intermingled with Chinese in early history. The history of this kind of official tendency is rather old in China and even goes back to the nationalist government of Kuomintang period. When several Chinese scholars have written articles based on similar claims, the national politician and scholar of East Turkistan, Mehmet Emin Bughra, has sternly rejected their unscientific arguments. One of the outstanding publications of that period is the book by Mehmet Emin Bugra, entitled “The Pen fight”, published in 1944 (Urumchi)(3). The book includes several articles by the Chinese scholar Li Dong Fang who denies the essence of Turkic peoples in East Turkistan and the responses to them by Mehmet Emin Bughra.
In order to see the continued official policy of Communist China with respect to the denial of the historical roots of the Turkic peoples of East Turkistan, one may review the official Web-Site of Communist China (www.china.org.cn). The articles on the Uyghurs and Qazaqs, assert that these peoples have been ancient parts of China and have been intermixed with the Chinese. For example, in the article, entitled “The Uygur Ethnic Minority,” one can read the following passages:
Xinjiang has been part of China since ancient times. The Uygurs, together with other ethnic groups, have opened up the region and have had very close economic and cultural ties with people in other parts of the country, particularly central China.
Uygur means “unity” or “alliance.” The origin of the ethnic group can be traced back to the Dingling nomads in northern and northwestern China and in areas south of Lake Baikal and between the Irtish River and Lake Balkhash in the third century B.C. Some people maintain that the forefathers of the Uygurs were related to the Hans. The Dingling were later called the Tiele, Tieli, Chile or Gaoche (high wheel). The Yuanhe tribe reigned supreme among the Gaoche tribes during the fifth century A.D., and the Weihe among the Tiele during the seventh century. Several tribes rallied behind the Weihe to resist Turkic oppression.
The Uighurs who settled in the Western Region lived commingled with Turkic nomads in areas north of the Tianshan Mountains and western pasturelands as well as with Hans, who had emigrated there after the Western and Eastern Han dynasties. They intermarried with people in southern Xinjiang and Tibetan, Qidan (Khitan) and Mongol tribes, and evolved into the group now known as the Uygurs(41).
The same article distorts the national history of the Uyghurs, when it discuss the independent state of Yaqub Beg between 1865 and 1877. It declares that the Uyghurs have assisted the Ching Dynasty of China in the military campaign to overthrow the reign of Yaqub Beg as follows:
It was in the interest of all ethnic groups to smash the Yukub Beg regime and recover Ili. So many local people supported the Qing troops when they overthrew Yukub Beg and recovered Xinjiang in 1877.
Another article on the Kazak ethnic minority at the same Web Site states that the forefathers of the Kazaks were the Wusun people who are believed to be Han Chinese and in later history the Qazaqs intermixed with the Turks and adopted the Turkic language. The article also distorts the national history of the Kazaks by affirming that it were the Qazaqs who captured the insurgent Osman Batir who had initiated an uprising against the Chinese rule in East Turkistan(5).
The primary cultural genocide practiced by Chinese government in East Turkistan falls within the field of education. There is an unjust policy in regard to the schools with native language-instruction. While native-language schools are financially and morally underprivileged by the state administration in East Turkistan, the Chinese-language schools in the region receive plentiful financial aid and modern technological tools such as computers. The percentage of Uyghur and Qazaq youth to enter universities in the region is very low; therefore, the great majority of the student body in the universities of East Turkistan consists of Chinese students. The job opportunities for the small number of Uyghur and Qazaq university graduates is also being restricted. As a result of this destructive policy toward the native peoples of East Turkistan in the fields of culture and education, the national culture of the region is being wiped out both systematically and openly.
The religious prayers of the civil servants and workers are banned by the official circular number seven. In the Hoten region alone, about 1218 mosques have been closed by force and used as state offices or other purposes. Further, 939 mosques have been demolished since 1977.
In my short presentation today, I don’t want to give you more examples of cultural genocide carried out in East Turkistan. However, I would like to call your attention to the very serious situation that Communist China is terminating the culture of East Turkistan openly in front of the entire world. The time has come for the free and democratic countries to ask the Chinese government to stop its present cultural genocide against the people of East Turkistan. We have to intervene and try to end this half-century-long shame and tragedy of humankind which started in the twentieth century (1949) and which still continues in the twenty-first century.
* This paper is submitted at the conference on “The Situation of East Turkestan After Half A Century of Chinese Communist Occupation,” organized by the East Turkestan National Congress (ETNC) in colllaboration with the Transnational Radical Party, in European Parliament, Brussels, October 17, 2001.
1. Timur Kocaoglu is an Associate Professor of Central Asian Studies, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey.
2. Yang Fa Rin, Li Ji, and Dung Shing Panislamizm ve Pantürkizm Haqqida Tadqiqat. Urumchi, 1994; p. 5-6.
3. Mehmet Emin Bugra, Yurt ve Millet Haqida Kalem Küresi. Urumçi: Altay Matba’asi, 1944-1948, pp. 66.
5. “A revolution against Kuomintang rule took place in Ili, Tacheng and Altay in 1944. Kazaks, who constituted the majority, and the Uygurs of Nilka County formed three armed guerrilla units to start it. During the period of the Liberation War in the later 1940s, the Kuomintang tore to shreds the ‘Eleven Articles on Peace’ it had signed with the revolutionary government of the three districts. It instigated Usman, a Kazak political turncoat, to start an armed uprising to smash the revolution. He attacked Altay twice, in October of 1946 and in September of 1947, looting and burning the houses of the local people. The Kazaks and people of other ethnic groups beat him off in the end.” See: http://www. china.org.cn/e-groups/shaoshu/shao-2-kazak.htm