In a discussion organized, ‘Under the Dragon's Shadow,’ by news portal Lokmaanya and the Pune-based think tank Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies (CASS), Salih Hudayar, Prime Minister of East Turkistan, Government-in-Exile, said the Uighur movement has become a solitary struggle for independence as even radical Islamic nations like Pakistan have not shown solidarity.
In fact, most Muslim countries have sided with China and even support it in the UN over human rights atrocities and other violations. The discussion was facilitated by Jayadeva Ranade, President of the New Delhi-based Centre for China Analysis and Strategy (CCAS), who said that the path for China was laid down by President Xi Jinping at the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) when he spoke about the 'China dream' to be achieved during the 100th year of the founding of the CCP—2021. "The most ominous part was to bring about the rejuvenation of the 'great Chinese nation,' which means recovery of territory lost due to the imposition of unequal treaties by hostile foreign powers," added Ranade. It is due to these ideas that China has been making repressive policies for Xinjiang and Hong Kong and curtailing the rights of various ethnic groups.
Elaborating on how China can be restrained, Hudayar said the international community has to stop China’s expansionism by stopping the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as it is the path to colonizing other countries. The Chinese have renamed East Turkistan—the home of the Uighurs—as Xinjiang, which means new territories. Scuttling the BRI should be a priority for all countries that promote democracy and advancement of human rights, Hudayar said, adding that: “the BRI is China's tool to become the world's most powerful economic and military power. It is a conduit towards neo-colonialism and to spread totalitarian ideas across the world. It is not just about trade. It is China's way of spreading its influence and army across the world.” Highlighting how the BRI is a tool of occupation, Hudayar said: “It is crucial that governments, organizations and individuals push back against it. Originally, this was the way China invaded and occupied East Turkistan. They promised us they will help us develop the country.
They have given the same promises to countries in Central Asia, to Pakistan and to many others across the world. They will initially build a few roads, then start bringing Chinese suppliers and workers. Then these Chinese start to inter-marry in the local population and begin to undermine the economic and social system of that country.” The PM of East Turkistan Government-in-Exile added that weak-minded leaders serve as puppets to China.
Utilizing this situation, the Chinese Communist Party then sends party leaders to coach and guide leaders of such countries “to the right path,” which then leads to a country becoming another East Turkistan or a Tibet—where millions of people are locked up in concentration camps and their identity is eroded. He added that the international community will have to ensure that the communist party does not become such an enormous monster that it threatens the existence of the global community.
Highlighting the role of the CCP in the ethnic cleansing of various communities, Hudayar said the party, on the pretext of promoting ethnic unity, is actually promoting Han Chinese domination. "They have eroded our culture, language and identity. Now they are engaging in a genocide after locking up three million people in concentration camps and labor camps. They are destroying our mosques and have sent half a million children to boarding schools and orphanages," said Hudayar. Talking about his low expectations from Muslim countries, the PM-in-exile said that, even historically, the Uighur Prime Minister had warned them about a poor show from Muslim nations.
Hudayar said that Turkey has become close to China and has remained silent on the plight of the Uighurs. “In some cases, Turkey has deported people to China. In 2019 a woman and two of her children were sent back and she was subsequently put in a concentration camp,” he added. Emphasizing that there are no Muslim countries supporting the Uighur independence movement, Hudayar said: “The Uighur Prime Minister had stated publicly in 1933 that there will be no support to us from the Muslim world. This is a reality that we must accept. So, we must turn to powers like India and the European Union and ask them for help. The only support to us in the UN has come from Western countries. In fact, when we fled post-1949, our people came to India because we have a long history of cultural and economic exchange with India—which was the first country to open its doors and arms to us. When our people fled to Pakistan, we were captured and sent back to China.”
Under policies dictated by Xi, Chinese repression continues on the Uighur Muslims with only a few democratic nations supporting their cause. In a white paper, the CCP even branded the Uighurs as settlers in East Turkistan and dismissed them as an indigenous population. China has been working hard to erase their history and ethnic identity and merge it with that of the Han Chinese. The PM-in-exile and activist said that the recent excavations of mummies and other historical artifacts prove that Uighurs have a presence in East Turkistan for thousands of years.
Quoting Turghun Almas, Uighur historian and poet, Hudayar said: “We have a history of well over 6,000 years in East Turkistan. Our dream for independence has existed since 1884, when the Manchu Qing dynasty occupied East Turkistan and renamed it Xinjiang. In fact, in the 1920s we were inspired by the Indian independence movement. Our students were studying its impact and the first Prime Minister of the East Turkistan republic visited India.” Adding a historical perspective, Hudayar said the Uighurs had declared independence briefly in 1933, but China crushed them with Soviet help. “We declared independence again in 1944 but in 1949, our country was occupied by Mao's China.
We have not given up fighting for independence and that is why China is locking up millions of people in concentration camps. In its national defence strategy, China's top goal is to prevent the independence of East Turkistan and also that of Tibet,” Hudayar explained.
Click here to listen to Salih Hudayar, PM of East Turkistan, Government-in-Exile, talk about ethnic cleansing of the Uighurs by China.