A Long History of Injustice Ignored: The Muslims of China -updated 7/28/09

Sheila Musaji

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A Long History of Injustice Ignored: The Muslims of China

Sheila Musaji

originally posted 11/1/05, updated 7/16/09

7/28/09 update

American Muslims Call on Chinese Govt’ to Protect Religious Freedom http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_call_to_protect_religious_freedom_in_china/0017475

7/16/09 update

140 slain as Chinese riot police, Muslims clash in northwestern city http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-fg-china-protest6-2009jul06,0,710782.story - death toll reaches 184 http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/07/11/China-rioting-death-toll-reaches-184/UPI-52971247314196/
A Guide to China’s Ethnic Groups http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/08/AR2009070802718.html?hpid=topnews
ABC Tracks Down Woman Who Stood up to the Chinese Soldiers http://blogs.abcnews.com/theworldnewser/2009/07/the-uighur-woman-who-stood-up-to-a-line-of-soldiers.html
Behind the Violence in Xinjiang http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/10/opinion/10iht-edbequelin.html?ref=global
Beijing’s wages of intolerance http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/editorials/articles/2009/07/11/beijing8217s_wages_of_intolerance/
China and the Uighurs http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7540636.stm
China joins Iran in Blocking Social Media During Protest Crackdowns http://www.digitaleastasia.com/2009/07/07/happening-now-china-joins-iran-in-blocking-social-media-during-protest-crackdowns/
China orders Mosques to suspend Friday prayers in China unrest http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j794twyjYyjeOIdsKWwzCUhsgvUAD99B9KO00
China plans massive change in Uyghur cultural capital http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/china-plans-massive-change-in-uyghur-cultural-capital/article1214548/
China takes the lead in strategic Central Asia http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/FI17Ad04.html
China tightens Web screws after Xinjiang riot http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSTRE5651K420090706
China’s Campaign to Open the West: Xinjiang and the Center http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-12072006-153454/unrestricted/moellerrv_etd2006.pdf
China’s Dual Strategy on Xinjiang and the Media http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal/2009/07/06/a-dual-strategy-on-xinjiang-and-the-media/
China’s ethnic tinderbox http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8141867.stm
China’s Ethnic Fault Lines http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203547904574279952210843672.html
China’s imperial instincts http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/china/
China’s Minority Ethnic, Racism and Sensibility Issues http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2009/07/08/chinas-minority-ethnic-racism-and-sensibility-issues.html
Chinese Government PR campaign targets Chinese Muslims http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iwL1Hh5GRR4npfAZarXVI5vyGojgD99F34L01
Chinese oppression of minorities http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2009/07/12/2003448458
Delahunt Urges Administration To Condemn China’s Uighur Crackdown http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/10/delahunt-urges-administra_n_229316.html
Ethnic violence in China is “genocide,” says Turkey’s prime minister http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977734617
If Only the Uighurs Were Buddhist and China Was Israel, Mona Eltahawy http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mona-eltahawy/if-only-the-uighurs-were_b_228125.html
In Wake of Turmoil In China, Minorities Face Painful Options http://www.uhrp.org/articles/2389/1/In-Wake-of-Turmoil-In-China-Minorities-Face-Painful-Options-/index.html
Income gaps, corruption fuel China riots http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gU-HMCbpUVLkSLuxgoG_eFtEhlsAD99EDBG05
Incomplete picture of Xinjiang unrest http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8136144.stm
Islam in Xinjiang: an ancient rival for a young China http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/14/uighur-china-islam
Rebiya Kadeer: a Uighur Dalai Lama http://www.tibetsun.com/elsewhere/2009/07/07/unveiled-rebiya-kadeer-a-uighur-dalai-lama/
Rebiya Kadeer calls for US consulate in Xinjiang http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hI7c98tBKNRH7yc0CnkQfvweP1Xg
Major incidents of unrest in China since 1989 http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5652QQ20090706
Muslim minorities’ uprising from the ashes of history http://www.newageislam.org/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1529
Muslim reaction to China’s actions against Uighurs http://www.theworld.org/2009/07/14/muslim-reaction-to-chinas-actions-against-uighurs/comment-page-1/
National Review Hearts Stalinism http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/07/hbc-90005319
“No Uighurs” Sign http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/more_on_no_uighurs.php
Riots Expose China’s Ethnic Divisions, Uneven Growth http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601116&sid=a3ohOFhV3yIA
Seeing China as a colonizer, Stevan Harrell http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/what-should-china-do-about-the-uighurs/?hp
Tibet and Xinjiang: China’s final frontier http://www.howardwfrench.com/archives/2009/05/28/tibet_and_xinjiang_chinas_final_frontier/
Toll Rises to 156 in Ethnic Clashes in Western China http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/world/asia/07china.html?_r=1
Turkey calls for end to violence http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2009/07/10/2003448258
The Uighur issue in perspective, James Fallows http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/07/the_uighur_issue_in_perspectiv.php
Uighur Muslims Crushed in East Turkistan: The Muslim World’s Absence of Reaction, Khaled Amayreh http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1246346172858&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout
Uighur vs Afghan: A Study in Contrasts, Eric Walberg http://informationclearinghouse.info/article23061.htm
Uighur WEBSITE http://www.uyghur1.com/
Uighurs Decry China’s Demolition Campaign http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1245754252522&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout
Uighurs Fight for Survival, China Guilty of Ethnic Cleansing http://www.poligazette.com/2009/07/09/uighurs-fight-for-survival-china-guilty-of-ethnic-cleansing/
Uighurs Force Opening of Mosques in Urumqi http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124721581476022421.html
Uighur Protests Draw World Concern about Chinese Policies http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-06-voa48.cfm
Uighur resentment at Beijing’s rule http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8137206.stm
Uighurs, Tibetans, Catholics, Protestants; the Chinese powder keg http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=15704&size=A
Unrest in Xinjiang: Where’s the Muslim outrage?  http://features.csmonitor.com/globalnews/2009/07/13/unrest-in-xinjiang-wheres-the-muslim-outrage/
Unrest Prompts a Web Clampdown in Western China http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/unrest-prompts-a-web-clampdown-in-western-china/
Washington abetting racism in China http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-c-anderson/washington-abetting-racis_b_226265.html
What About The Uighurs?, Khalilah Sabra http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/what_about_the_uighurs/0017468
What if the Uighurs were Christian rather than Muslim?, Glenn Greenwald http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/07/06/uighurs/
Why doesn’t the Islamic world speak up about the Uighurs? http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/07/13/mute_muslims
Xinjiang: China’s ‘other Tibet’  http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2008/03/2008525184819409441.html
Xinjiang riots echo last year’s Tibet unrest http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hW9OO4OzrNxJKoz2H5jkGarzmTEAD9995HM80


The Uighur Khanate is very ancient.


The Uyghurs were an alliance made of nine (some sources say ten or eleven) Turkic Tiele peoples (they later mixed with the Tokhuz Oghuz). Their name is Hui-he or Hui Ho in Chinese but it means “Allies” in Old Turkish (Kiu Wu Tai, completed in 974, says Uyghur meant “People wandering and attacking with the speed of a falcon”). The core of the Uyghur Alliance was made up of peoples that were previously called as Gao Che (Kao-Ch’e) by the Chinese; although not all Gao Che became Uyghurs and the majority formed the Tiele group.    During the beginning of the 7th century, the Uyghurs are first mentioned in history. At that time, they were the subjects of the Eastern Trk (Tujue Dong) Khaghanate; but when this khaghanate declined, they united with the Sir-Tardush (Xue Yan Tuo) and rebelled against the T켼rkt. After overthrowing the Xue Yan Tuo, the Uyghurs founded an independent khaghanate in the Selenge Valley from where they could raid as far as Tashkend and Huang He. This khaghanate was brought under Eastern Trk켼t rule again (which was destroyed by the Tang in 630 but it managed to declare it’s independence in 682) during the reign of Khutlugh Iltirish Khaghan. In 714, the Uyghurs and Oghuz rebelled but the rebellion was put down by Khapghan Khaghan in 715. However, the Uyghurs became the semi-independent vassals of the khaghanate’s Western half. In 742, the Uyghurs, Kharlukhs and Basmyls rebelled, captured the Eastern Trkt’s capital 켖tkn, killed the last T쩼rkt rulers in 744 and destroyed the Trk켼t Khaghanate. However, in 745, the Khaghan of Basyls were killed, the Kharlukhs were defeated and forced to migrate; thus, the Uyghurs became the supreme rulers of Mongolia (note: this khaghanate is today called as the Orkhun Uyghur Khaghanate, but it’s real name was the On Uyghur-Tokhuz Oghuz Khaghanate).”The Orkon Uighur Empire

There are two main Muslim groups in China   The Hui who are found all over China and are the single largest Muslim tribe, and the Uighurs and Kazakhs of Xinjiang Province which is China֒s largest province.

Xinjiang is a province in China, but it is also historically, culturally, and linguistically part of Central Asia, and is in fact sometimes called Chinese Turkestan.  After the fall of the Soviet Union and the struggle of the Central Asian Republics for freedom, the Muslims of Xinjiang also renewed their calls for freedom from China.

Xinjiang was predominantly Muslim, but

In the past 50 years, however, Beijing has tipped the balance with a frontier development scheme - Go West, Young Han. Millions have. Exactly how many is a matter of contention.  Officially, fewer than 40% of Xinjiang’s 20 million people are Han Chinese. Still, that’s a giant leap from 1949, when the Chinese made up 4%-5% of the population. The shift may be even more dramatic, says a Western diplomat in Beijing, perhaps 60%-65% Han, if you tally all the police and army troops.  All that military muscle is telling. Take two peoples who don’t understand each other, plus the perception among locals that the newcomers are dominating the land and the economic development, and it is no surprise that a heavy security presence is on hand to control arguably China’s most restive province.Ӕ Strangers In Their Own Land
Xinjiang has been under Chinese control since its conquest by the Manchus in 1757-59, but until the establishment of the PeopleԒs Republic in 1949 its links with Beijing were very loose. The region often found itself virtually independent and its relations with the centre were marked by regular and very violent revolts.  Since 1949, however, Xinjiang has been solidly anchored to China. Since the beginning of the 1960s the Beijing authorities have been encouraging Han Chinese to settle in the region. As a result, the Han population of Xinjiang rose from 10 % in 1955 to an estimated 40-50 % in 1994, out of a total population of 16 million. The Chinese call this policy adding sandӔ, the idea being to thicken the cement (2). The Chinese empire pushed westwards into the Tarim basin (3) on three separate occasions during its long history, but never before has the presence of the state in Xinjiang been accompanied by such intensive Sinification. The recurrent Chinese political presence (in the second century B.C., in the eighth century A.D. under the Tang dynasty, and continuously since 1757) has left its mark on Xinjiang, but the last twenty-five years have brought about a major upheaval.Beijing Faces Up to Uighur Nationalists
ԔA great deal is at risk for Beijing. Half the size of India, lying between China’s interior and the chaos of Central Asia, and rich in coal, oil and natural gas, Xinjiang is strategically important to China. Political instability here could spread to the Chinese interior, threaten the security of China’s energy supplies and complicate relations with the Islamic world. In a demonstration of China’s concern, Chinese scholars have even contended that a nationalist separatist movement in Xinjiang could raise the spectre of an intervention by the United States like that in Kosovo, where Nato forces came to the aid of a persecuted Muslim minority.Where Beijing Fears Kosovo

The western Uighur region of Xinjiang is rich in minerals, oil and gas - resources lacking in the Chinese heartland and essential for China’s growth and stability.

Reports of official abuses against China’s Muslim Uighur minority have increased since the global anti-terrorism campaign began. Amnesty International and other human rights groups say China is seizing on the global campaign against terror to launch a crackdown on Uighurs who peacefully advocate greater autonomy from Chinese rule. Reports point to torture, ill treatment and executions without trial.

In 2002 Human Rights Watch reported that Islamic and other forms of religious worship were effectively outlawed as ԓbourgeois in nature; mosques throughout Xinjiang were closed; Muslim clerics were widely persecuted and jailed; Uighur families were forced to rear pigs in violation of religious prohibitions; and many mosques reportedly were used as pork warehouses,.Ԕ

In 2003 Amnesty International called for an independent inquiry into accusations of serious human rights violations during and after a crackdown on a 1997 demonstration by ethnic Uighur minorities in western China.  The Chinese authorities claimed the demonstrations were organized by terroristsӔ but Amnesty said they have provided no proof of this claim.

As China steps up its repression of Muslim Uighurs in its westernmost Xinjiang region (East Turkestan) and discontent mounts, independence seekers are starting to see military organization as ӓinevitable, a leading freedom fighter warned in an overnight radio interview.  The military option is hard to avoid if East Turkestan (Xinjiang) is to win independence, according to Mehmet Emin Hazret, leader of the East Turkestan Liberation Organization.Ԕ China Tightens Vise on Uighurs

In 2004 more than 800,000 people were arrested by the Chinese government.  They included Tibetan monks and Xinjiang Muslims. More than 800,000 people were arrested last year for endangering state security or for being involved in activities regarded as separatist, terrorist or extremist. In total, 811,102 people were held, an 8.3 per cent increase from 2003. The courts last year prosecuted 867,186 people in connection with those crimes.Ԕ

China’s crushing campaign of religious oppression and cultural assimilation against its Muslim Uighur minority, in the name of combating terror and anti-separatism, risks to turn the region into a “time bomb”, warned a worldwide group of exiled Uighur Muslims Friday, September 30, 2005.

Osama Bin Laden did not inspire separatist violence in Xinjiang as China’s Ministry of Public Security claimed when it released the terror list. The story began much earlier. In 1759, China’s Qing dynasty first annexed Eastern Turkistan, which it renamed Xinjiang [New Frontier], and the demands for independence have not stopped since. Rebellions in 1815, 1825, 1830, 1847 and 1857 paved the way for the rising of Yakub Beg as a military leader who founded his conservative Islamic rule in Xinjiang between 1866 and 1877. When Beg finally laid down arms in 1877, the seeds for an independent state in present day Xinjiang were already planted. Twice the Eastern Turkistan Republic was re-established: From 1931 to 1934 and from 1944 to 1949. It is the second republic that has been repressed for some forty years by China’s rulers, despite initial promises by Mao Zedong in 1936 to guarantee “absolute freedom of belief for the Muslim people [in China]” in return for the pledge of their famed combat skills.    Once in power, that promise was kept only for the ethnic Chinese (Hui) Muslims, while the Uyghur and other (Turkic) Muslims in Xinjiang were antagonized as a result of their strong nationalist tendencies. Beijing’s treatment of Muslims in China since then has been a story of constant reversal of policies, ranging from assimilation and rehabilitation to oppression and cruelty, and Xinjiang’s Muslims have suffered the most. Beijing’s current move to use the pretext of the U.S.-led war on terror to justify its ongoing oppression of Muslims’ religious freedoms in Xinjiang is but the latest—not the last—attempt to re-make the truth about Xinjiang. This move has been noted as a cause for concern in the U.S. International Religious Freedom Report for 2003, although subsequent developments in the context of the war on terror marked a reversal of policy by the United States. ԓ Uighar Separatism and Chinas Credibility in the War on Terror


Abuses Against Muslims Up http://www.beliefnet.com/story/93/story_9301_1.html

Amnesty Calls for Inquiry Into Crackdown on Muslim Uprising http://www.islamonline.net/english/news/2003-02/05/article03.shtml

Beijing Faces Up to Uighur Nationalists http://mondediplo.com/1997/09/uighur

Beijing Fears Kosovo http://www.tibet.ca/en/wtnarchive/2000/9/6_1.html

Beijing Olympics, Uighurs Vanish http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1218650231458&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

China Arrests More than 800,000 http://www.asianews.it/view.php?l=en&art=2731

China Continues Suppression of Islam in the Provinces http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2001-09/08/article3.shtml

China Cracks Down on Muslims, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/1887335.stm

China Crushing Muslim Uighurs http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4435135.stm

China Desinates Four Muslim Groups “Terrorist” http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2003-12/15/article06.shtml

China Detains Teacher, Students For Reading Qur’an http://islamonline.net/English/News/2005-08/15/article06.shtml

China Forbids Some Muslims From Fasting, Wearing Hijab http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2001-11/16/article15.shtml

China Hails UN Move to List Turkestan Group as Linked to al Qaeda http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2002-09/12/article07.shtml

China Seeks to Justify Crackdown on Muslim Separatists http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2002-01/21/article70.shtml

China Sentences 21 Seperatists, Executes 2 at Public Rally http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2001-11/16/article6.shtml

China’s Muslims Lack Religious Freedom http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout&cid=1203758702724
China’s Muslims Look On in Anger http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/1651577.stm

China Tightens Vice, Muslims Renew Calls for Freedom http://www.islamonline.net/english/news/2003-01/30/article01.shtml

China to Scrutinize Muslim Religious and Folk Customs http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2002-01/08/article14.shtml

China Turns Muslim Xinjiang Into a Time bomb http://www.islamonline.org/English/News/2005-09/30/article02.shtml

China’s Changing Views of Terrorism http://www.tibet.ca/en/wtnarchive/2000/9/6_1.html

China’s Muslims: Strangers In Their Own Land http://www.gluckman.com/UighurTerror.html

Chinese Muslims Forge Isolated Path http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3656180.stm

Chinese Muslims Rediscovering Islam http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2001-04/03/article4.shtml

Conflict Profile: Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang http://selfdetermine.irc-online.org/listserv/011213.html

East Turkistan: China’s Forgotten Muslims http://www.islamonline.net/English/Views/2002/06/article02.shtml

East Turkistan Uighur Region http://www.ozturkler.com/data_english/0007/0007_13.htm

The Fate of China’s Minorities http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,570402,00.html

First rule of empire: dominate, Parag Khanna (China accuses Dalai Lama of colluding with Uighers)  http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/first-rule-of-empire-dominate/2008/04/08/1207420388179.html

Founding of the Uighur Khanate http://www.ozturkler.com/data_english/0001/0001_06_04.htm

Go West, Chinese Style http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20000918&slug=TTM71JUCS

Go West, Young Han, John Pomfret http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/55/470.html

Human Rights Watch: Religious Oppression of Uighur Muslims http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/04/11/china10447.htm

Islam in Northwest China http://news.ibn.net/newsframe.asp?url=http://www.antiwar.com/matuszak/?articleid=2535

Massacre of Muslims in China, http://www.gfbv.de/gfbv_e/media/gulja_e.htm

Modern Manifest Destiny or Geographic Devolution?  http://www.jhurst33.com/2008/03/modern-manifest-destiny-or-geographic.html

Muslims in China, http://www.ehalal.net/china/overview.html

Muslims in China http://www.ccs.uky.edu/~rakhim/doc_files/chen.html

Muslims Suffer in China’s War on Terror http://news.ibn.net/newsgen.asp?url=suddwario

Muslims Struggle With Han Chinese Overlords http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901007&slug=1096970

Orkhon Uighur Empire http://www.allempires.com/empires/uighur/uighur1.htm

Photo essay: silk road - manifest destiny http://www.time.com/time/asia/2006/journey/photoessays/photo_silkroad.html

Rumblings of Discontent Among Ethnic Muslims on China’s Frontier http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ASIANOW/east/12/14/mackinnon.xinjiang.dec14/

The Soviets in Xinjiang 1911-1949 http://www.oxuscom.com/sovinxj.htm

To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/world/asia/28kashgar.html

Uighers, Strangers in their own Land http://www.gluckman.com/UighurTerror.html

Uyghur Human Rights Coalition, http://www.uyghurs.org/human_rights.htm

Uyghur of Xinjiang http://www.allempires.com/empires/uighur/uighur1.htm

Uyghur http://www.allempires.com/empires/uighur/uighur1.htm

Uyghurs Battle to Survive as Terror War Takes Toll http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/China/GE09Ad03.html

Uyghur Separatism and China’s Credibility in the War on Terror http://www.jamestown.org/publications_details.php?volume_id=395&issue_id=2905&article_id=23510

U.S. Ignores China’s Crackdown on Muslims http://islamonline.net/English/News/2005-05/08/article03.shtml

U.S. and China in Human Rights Talks With Focus on Muslim Minority http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2002-12/16/article09.shtml

Xinjiang In Grip of Riots http://www.hvk.org/articles/0397/0165.html