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Inside the World Uyghur Congress: The US-backed right-wing regime change network seeking the ‘fall of China’

While posing as a grassroots human rights organization, the World Uyghur Congress is a US-funded and directed separatist network that has forged alliances with far-right ethno-nationalist groups. The goal spelled out by its founders is clear: the destabilization of China and regime change in Beijing.

by Ajit Singh

Part 5 - With vow to destroy China, WUC leaders earn Western adulation and support

In 2004, Erkin Alptekin was named the inaugural president of the WUC. He is the son of the far-right, ultra-nationalist father figure of the Uyghur separatist movement, Isa Yusuf Alptekin, whose background is explored later in this article. From 1971 to 1995, Erkin Alptekin worked for the US government-funded RFE/RL media network.

Speaking at the funeral of his father, in 1995, the junior Alptekin outlined his anti-communist, separatist views and articulated his desire to destroy China: “Ten years ago no one believed that the USSR would fall apart now you can see that. Many Turkic countries have their freedom now. Today the same situation applies to China. We believed in the not too distant future we will see the fall of China and the independence of East Turkestan.

The WUC describes Alptekin as “close friend” of the Dalai Lama, the U.S-backed, CIA-funded figurehead for Tibetan separatism. “We are working very closely with the Dalai Lama,” Alptekin told The Washington Post in 1999. “He is a very good example for us.

In 2006, Erkin Alptekin was succeeded as WUC President by Rebiya Kadeer, a self-described multi-millionaire real estate and trading entrepreneur who profited off of China’s economic reforms of the 1980s and claims to have once been the seventh wealthiest individual in the country. According to The New York Times, Kadeer’s “[d]issidence brought the end of her Audi, her three villas and her far-flung business empire”. Kadeer’s husband, SIdik Rouzi, worked for US government media outlets Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

During her tenure as WUC President, Kadeer met with then-US President George W. Bush on several occasions. As Bush waged his illegal war on Iraq and persecuted Muslim American leadership under the auspices of his so-called “war on terror,” Kadeer appealed to the US head of state to take up the cause of Uyghur Muslims. “I was deeply honored to meet with the President,” Kadeer stated. She “expressed gratitude for President Bush’s demonstrated commitment to promoting freedom and democratic reform in the PRC.

At the 2007 Democracy & Security International Conference in Prague, Bush praised Kadeer as a human rights defender in his address before the gathering. The conference was organized by the Prague Security Studies Institute, a think tank that aims to advance free-market societies in post-communist states, and the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, an Israeli outfit named for ultra-Zionist Republican casino baron Sheldon Adelson. Conference partners included the US government and NATO. 

Kadeer kept close relationships with the Dalai Lama and Vaclav Havel, the leader of the ‘Velvet Revolution’ which brought down Czechoslovakia’s communist government. Havel was a “major proponent of NATO” and instrumental to the Western military alliance’s eastward expansion. Kadeer described Havel as “an uncompromising advocate for truth, justice and peace” and pointed to his political accomplishments as an example to be emulated for China. “Mr. Havel’s vision for the Czech people […] speaks to Chinese democrats today”, wrote Kadeer, following Havel’s death, and “contains […] the seeds of a new era for political reform in China.

The current President of WUC is Dolkun Isa, winner of the 2019 Democracy Award from the NED. In 2016, Isa received a human rights award from the far-right Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was established by the US government in 1993. In his acceptance speech, Isa emphasized “the Uyghurs’ resistance to communism” and that “we will not stop our work until we consign this destructive ideology, in the words of Ronald Reagan, to ‘the ash heap of history.’

Isa regularly lobbies US and Western politicians to intensify their new Cold War agenda by enacting economic sanctions and curbing ties with China. Among those he has met with in recent years are Trump administration White House officials, right-wing Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the US Consul General in Munich, and the fervently anti-China acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell.

In November 2019, Isa attended the Halifax International Security Forum, a gathering convened by NATO and the Canadian Department of National Defence. There, he met with leading Western political and military figures.

In January 2020, Isa was hosted at an event organized by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, a right-wing British Israeli lobby group. At the event, Isa met with with the ultra-Zionist organization Bnei Akiva, whose leader called for the Israeli Army “to take the foreskins of 300 Palestinians” amid Israel’s punishing 2014 assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Omer Kanat serves as the WUC’s Chairman of the Executive Committee. Kanat helped found the WUC and has been a permanent fixture in its executive leadership. The veteran operative has a lengthy history of work with the US government, from serving as senior editor of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009 to covering the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and interviewing the Dalai Lama for the network. 

In an interview with The Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal at a 2018 NED awards ceremony in the US Capitol building, Kanat took credit for furnishing many of the claims about internment camps in Xinjiang to Western media. He conceded, however, that the WUC did not know how the oft-repeated “millions detained” claim was arrived at aside from “Western media estimates.

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