Based on a handful of think tank reports and witness testimonies, Western governments have levied false allegations of genocide and slavery in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. A closer look makes clear that the politicization of China’s anti-terrorism policies in Xinjiang is another front of the U.S.-led hybrid war on China. This resource compilation provides a starting point for critical inquiry into the historical context and international response to China’s policies in Xinjiang, providing a counter-perspective to misinformation that abounds in mainstream coverage of the autonomous region.
by Qiao Collective
Part 2 - Formation of the World Uyghur Congress (1989-2006)
1989 June 4 – The Tiananmen June 4th Incident, born of contradictions from market reform, inflamed by Gorbachev’s perestroika, and combined with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its fall on December 26, 1991, sparks a generational crisis in China. A wave of disillusioned students and upwardly-mobile young people leave China for the U.S. and other Western nations, with some receiving lavish attention and platforms as ‘dissidents’ who serve a strategic interest for U.S. ambitions vis-a-vis China.
Some of the most prominent Uyghur diaspora activist leaders today are as follows: Erkin Alptekin, Rushan Abbas, Dolkun Isa, Rebiya Kadeer, Omer Kanat, and Nury Turkel. Of these six, four arrived in the West on or after 1989 (Abbas 1989; Isa 1994; Turkel 1995; Kadeer 2005, as the cause célèbre of Turkel). Alptekin left around 1949 as part of the Guomindang’s defeat and Kanat left in 1971.
1990 April 5 – Baren Township Riots, considered the first terrorist attack of a phase lasting till 2016 during which terrorism was considered a severe problem in Xinjiang. This is also the first attack China has attributed to the then East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), now Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) (ETIM/TIP).
1996 November – The World Uyghur Youth Congress (WUYC) is established in Germany, with Omer Kanat and Dolkun Isa playing important roles. Both of them still hold high positions (Chairman of the Executive Committee and President, respectively) in the WUYC’s successor organization, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). Kanat apparently left China in 1971 to Afghanistan, then to Turkey in 1979, before moving to the United States in 1999; Isa left China in 1994. Kanat has served as the Senior Editor of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009.
1998 April – The Uyghur American Association (UAA) is founded. One of the people who played an important rule in its founding is Rushan Abbas, who would serve as Vice President for the UAA for two terms while also reporting for Radio Free Asia. Abbas arrived in the United States in 1989 and co-founded the United States’ first Uyghur association, the Uyghur Overseas Student and Scholars Association, in 1993.
Abbas would later serve the United States at Guantanamo as a linguist and a translator. This has caused some netizens to doubt her legitimacy to speak on human rights issues.
2001 June 15 – In the inaugural meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, China identified the “three evils” (the Chinese term 三股势力 is more akin to the “three forces” or “three influences”) of extremism (极端主义), separatism (分裂主义), and terrorism (恐怖主义). It has since applied this framework to the terrorism problem in Xinjiang.
2001 September 11 – The 9/11 attacks claim the lives of 2,977 people (excluding the perpetrators). In response, the United States begins to wage the “War on Terror” and engaged itself in combat in at least 24 countries. This war has displaced anywhere between 37 to 59 million, according to a recent report (September 2020) from Brown University. This report also notes that 801,000 have died as a direct result from combat, but “indirect deaths” may reach up to 3.1 million after a war that has lasted almost two decades.
2002 September 11 – The United Nations registers the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization. As of 2020, the United States Department of State has still not classified the ETIM/TIP as a terrorist organization, although the Department of State designated ETIM/TIP under E.O. 13224 prohibiting transactions with “Persons Who Commit, Threaten To Commit, or Support Terrorism” on September 3, 2002.
2003 December 15 – China designates the ETIM/TIP, the WUYC, and two other organizations as terrorist organizations.
2004 April 16 – The WUC is founded in Munich, merging the East Turkestan National Congress and the WUYC. Its inaugural president is Erkin Alptekin, the son of Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a Guomindang affiliate who was virulently anti-communist (to the point that he largely opposed the Soviet-backed Second East Turkistan Republic) and violently opposed marriage between Hans and Uyghurs. Isa Alptekin remained active in Turkey after the Communist victory in China.
Presumably around the same time, the Uyghur American Association founded the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) with a supporting grant from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The UHRP was co-founded by Nury Turkel, who arrived in the United States in 1995 and was appointed to be a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on May 26, 2020.
The NED has since boasted on May 29, 2020 that it “has awarded $8,758,300 to Uyghur groups since 2004, serving as the only institutional funder for Uyghur advocacy and human rights organizations.”
Erkin Alptekin himself is a longtime affiliate of the CIA, helping the CIA to build up “network of contacts with the Uighur separatist elements” in the 1970s and 1980s, and enjoying close relations with the 14th Dalai Lama.
2006 November 26 – Rebiya Kadeer is elected president of the WUC. Kadeer was sentenced to 8 years in prison for providing state information to foreign entities in 2000. This was after a career as a business owner, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Federation of Industry and Commerce, Vice-Chairwoman of the Xinjiang Association of Women Entrepreneurs, and as a member of the 8th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. She was given leave on March 17th, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States on condition that she not engage in any subversive activities abroad.
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