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The Uighur movement needs to recalibrate away from calls for independence

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Even when I am watching the winter sun of Australia, far from the terror I encountered from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as Uighur in Xinjiang, speaking out against genocide is still difficult.

For starters, even after sacrificing my home and a promising career, the freedom I have found is still very much conditional. Everyone I know and care about at home and my dad, my friends, my business partners and my career mentors are a potential hostage to the PKP, which regularly imprisons and terrorizes the friends and family of those who speak abroad. . Many in the Uighur diaspora have been threatened by security services, whose reach extends beyond the sea, or offered the false hope of freedom to imprisoned relatives if they remain silent. This is why so many of us are reluctant to speak, or should use nicknames, as I am doing in this article.

Even when I am watching the winter sun of Australia, far from the terror I encountered from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as Uighur in Xinjiang, speaking out against genocide is still difficult.

For starters, even after sacrificing my home and a promising career, the freedom I have found is still very much conditional. Everyone I know and care about at home and my dad, my friends, my business partners and my career mentors are a potential hostage to the PKP, which regularly imprisons and terrorizes the friends and family of those who speak abroad. . Many in the Uighur diaspora have been threatened by security services, whose reach extends beyond the sea, or offered the false hope of freedom to imprisoned relatives if they remain silent. This is why so many of us are reluctant to talk, or should use nicknames, as I am doing in this article.

But there is another reason that can be tricky to talk about. The dominance of the Uyghur independence movement in anti-genocide narratives does not accurately represent the diversity and nuances of political orientation within the Uyghur community itself. Some independence activists are inadvertently removing the seemingly simple task of convincing people that what is happening in China is real and catastrophic.

To be sure, the Uighur independence movement and the various Uighur organizations operating under the banner have played a major and important role in raising public attention. In fact, thanks to these Uighur organizations and allies from academia, politics, and activism, the ongoing Uighur genocide has received much media attention and attracted concerns from Western governments, despite the CCP’s best efforts to deny, coerce, and silence . Just the other day while I was playing online games, a random player friend assigned as my teammate replied, what is its brutal that is happening to your people, after I told her I was a Uighur, without any further elaboration by my side.

Progress is now visible. For a long time, I was tired of the task of explaining my story with a long speech to people who were simply curious as to why I claimed to be from China, but had obvious non-Han features. And Uyghur independence, whatever the Chinese government says is a valid cause.

But it is also not one of which the Uighurs necessarily love. Of course, it is always difficult to know preferences under a dictatorship. But before persecution worsened and any form of speech other than party-approved became dangerous, there was a time when Uighurs felt relatively safe discussing sensitive issues privately or anonymously online. Ilham Tohti, the famous Uyghur professor of economics, was a vocal opponent of Uyghur independence and was not simply to appease the authorities. Tohti was imprisoned for life on the weakest foundations in 2014. I am both proud and even ashamed to call him friend after imprisonment, fearing for myself, I stopped visiting his struggling family and convinced myself that sending money through a mutual friend Han was a gesture enough.

Tohti embraced the idea of ​​self-autonomy as guaranteed by the current Chinese constitution. His only complaint, which was quite popular among Uighur intellectuals at the time, was that autonomy was halfway through implementations something that needed to change. I, along with a young Uighur group on Weibo, definitely opposed Tohtis’ vision, arguing that giving separate power to each group in a multi-ethnic region like Xinjiang is fundamentally racist, and thus the idea of ​​an autonomous region Uyghur, even practiced perfectly under Tohtis’ vision, meant misfortune. Tohti and I went to a war of words with Weibo, before he invited me to his house and fascinated me by being a friend.

The rare but unmistakable common point we observed in our discussions, both online and offline, was the Uyghur suspicion of the idea of ​​Uyghur independence and any connection between the movement and political Islam.

The history of Xinjiangs is more complicated than who was there first, and secularism has a long tradition even among Uighurs. East Turkestan, the preferred name for Xinjiang in the independence movement, hardly has any significant recognition among the largest home population. The sight of the blue flag colliding with the crescent and pointed star, once the national flag of a very short life Uyghur state in 1933-34, it does not cause any emotion for many people like me because it was irrelevant to the identity we formed as proud Uighurs.

The independence movement was once again much more closely linked to secular Turkish nationalism. Today, however, parts of it have become affiliated with Islamic groups. And thanks to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a short-lived terrorist group heavily hailed by Chinese authorities, the phrase dong ju, abbreviated for East Turkestan in Chinese, is only understood to be the name of the organization instead of a geographical term. (In October 2020, the United States canceled the designation of ETIMs as a terrorist group, in basics that there has been no credible evidence that ETIM continues to exist.) The persecution of Chinese governments by common religious practice has made Islam a stronger part of resistance to government even for relatively secular Uighurs.

The CCP is exploiting the dominance of the narrative independence movement. The Chinese public has been trained for decades to treat separatists, whether in Xinjiang or Taiwan, effectively as traitors, and to see the integrity of the country’s modern borders as key to national identity.

This has been a constant frustration among many concerned Uyghur citizens and intellectuals at home. Although racial discrimination, arbitrary prohibitions, and escalating genocide have been universally condemned, the desire of sovereign nations to protect its territorial integrity is a more nuanced issue.

Although the right to self-determination is enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, what it entails is the source of ongoing debate and conflict throughout the world. By incorporating Uyghur abuse as a response to the threats of terrorism and separatism (aided by shameless, outright lies and absolute control of internal narrative), the CCP has managed to draw parallels, if often inaccurate ones, with Russia, Turkey, Canada, and Spain and their resistance to internal independence movements. In fact, the truest parallels that can be drawn in the CCP are brutal ethnic policies with those of Hitler and Stalin.

Xi Jinpings China is no longer eager to impress foreigners with excellent Olympic stadiums. It is a much safer place from the outside, led by wolf fighters who do not hesitate to go outside Trump Trump on Twitter and use vaccines as bargains but also an increasingly paranoid ethno-nationalist country for any hint of criticism.

Hardly difficult for ordinary non-Uyghur Chinese to escape the dominance of this narrative. Gaining their sympathy, then, may depend on portraying Uyghurs more as unjustly persecuted Chinese citizens, victims of political persecution just as others were during the Great Leap Ahead or the Cultural Revolution, as a nation struggling to be free.

This does not stop the independence of the Uighurs from being a legitimate cause, but it is not what is practically worth fighting in the midst of this crisis. Sadly, the blue flag and the term East Turkestan instantly delegitimize every message they accompany, even to the best, compassionate people who might otherwise be shocked by what is happening inside their beautiful country.

Sources

1/ https://Google.com/

2/ https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/07/27/uyghur-independence-hurting-case-xinjiang/

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