“Chinese Cultural Revolution” In East Turkestan

By Abdugheni Sabit ( written 2013 )

The “Cultural Revolution” had a massive impact on Uyghur people in East Turkestan (1966 to 1978). The “Cultural Revolution” was the name given to Mao’s attempt to reassert his beliefs and power in China. Mao was an authoritarian leader who established the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949 and who hated minority groups in China. In the late 1950’s, he feared others in the party might be taking on a leading role that weakened his power within the party and the country. Therefore, he and some party members launched the “Cultural Revolution” in order to re-impose Mao’s authority on the party, killing and persecuting millions of people all over China.

The “Cultural Revolution” was aimed at the educated and intellectual sections of society; all voices of opposition in China were silenced in the cruelest possible manner. Mao believed that people who were not fully turned to communism needed to be educated. Therefore, the people who were educated and opposed to the Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” were humiliated, beaten and tortured, and even killed for trivial justifications such as not wearing the uniform expected by Mao, or for being unable to learn communist marching songs by heart.


After the occupation of East Turkestan in 1949, the CCP sought every opportunity to persecute Uyghur people. They accused Uyghur people of being too “Americanized”, “Capitalists”, “Bourgeois” and “Russianized” as they advocated western values. Therefore, the Uyghur people became the main targets of the CCP and Maoist (pro- Mao) between 1950 – 1966. In order to secure its colonization of East Turkestan and the CCP power, Mao launched the “Cultural Revolution”, a much worse terror, beginning in East Turkestan in May 1966 and lasting until late 1970’s. The Mao’s CCP had spread terror, profound fear, hatred and distrust throughout East Turkestan. They believed that power, order and stability could only be maintained by means of spreading fear and allowing violence to prevail. As a result, the CCP tightly controlled all aspects of individuals’ lives and ruthlessly punished and tortured anyone who did not submit herself/himself to communism and did not translate communist ideology into her/his daily lives.

The CCP did not only target the wealthy, educated and the devout by humiliating, beating, torturing and killing, but they also attacked the Uyghur people’s Islamic beliefs by shuttering thousands of mosques, jailing Imams and the Uyghurs who wore headscarves or other Muslim clothing. Also, the CCP forced the Uyghur people to raise pigs and eat pigs and defiled mosques with pigs. The Uyghurs and Muslim leaders who stood up against the CCP were simply tortured and shot by the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Furthermore, the Uighur language was purged from school curricula, and thousands of Uighur writers were arrested for “advocating separatism” — which often meant nothing more than writing in Uighur. Meanwhile, the CCP forced the Uyghur and other East Turkestani farmers into collectives, which were even less productive than those in other parts of the country. They were deliberately left to starve until they handed over their produce to communes and accepted the communist interpretation of production. During that time, food was purchased only buy CCP coupons but it was enough to feed family members. Also, people were only forced to wear one type of costume with Mao’s portrait on a button pinned on it (Chinese style of blue jacket and pants), which was solely approved by the CCP. The schools, mosques and government offices were closed all over East Turkestan to study Maoism and “Red Guards” – pro- Mao groups for all ages were organized and spread everywhere. The people who questioned Mao’s idea were persecuted, tortured and executed instantly. There were some occasions that some Uyghurs who referred Mao as “Hitay” (means the Chinese in Uyghur language) were punished and they were forced call Mao as “the Father”. Today, it is easy to find the Uyghur victims of the CCP’s “Cultural Revolution” terror.

However, despite the CCP’s terror and brutal policies across East Turkestan, the Uyghurs resisted the Cultural Revolution more forcefully than most other parts of China by carrying out periodic uprisings in south of East Turkestan which made it harder for the CCP to rule East Turkestan without much trouble.



About The Eastturkestan Government in Exile
The Official Website of Eastturkestan Government in Exile

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