‘Independence of East Turkistan is the only way to save Uyghurs’

at 4:21 pm
File pic of a protest by Uyghurs against Chinese occupation.


By Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur

On July 27, 2021, a person using the name Yehan published an article in the “Foreign Policy Journal” in which he said, “Independence may not help the Uyghur case.”

The article caused an uproar among Uyghur diaspora communities around the world and resulted in expressing their disagreement with Yehan on social media in this regard.

Dr. Mamtimin Ala and Salih Hudayar immediately wrote a rebuttal, clearly and forcefully arguing that independence is the only way to rescue Uyghurs.

All over the world Uyghurs were relieved and felt happy while regaining their hope for their political future once again.

This rebuttal article titled “Independence is the only way to rescue Uyghurs” was published in “Foreign Policy Journal” on August 11, two weeks after Yehan’s article was published in the same journal.

It was written to argue against Yehan’s misleading ideas with historical facts and future outlooks.

Since June 2018, I have been protesting in Amsterdam Square, which is a popular tourist area in Amsterdam.

I regularly display many posters and materials that show how China has been systematically and continuously committing genocide against the Uyghurs, dating back to when China first occupied East Turkistan in 1949.

I have a map of the area from 1899 that clearly names the area East Turkistan.

Most tourists are attracted to the map to see the historical layout of my nation and ask a lot of questions about our homeland ─ East Turkistan.

Some of the tourists cannot pronounce the name correctly and confuse it with names such as Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

When I tell them that I am from East Turkistan and I am a Uyghur, they are more confused, but I never try to explain it.

Instead, I always explain that there are two different names: Xinjiang, which is a Chinese name and means ‘New Territory,’ as a sign of colocialism and East Turkistan, the symbol of our freedom as the real name of our Chinese-occupied motherland.

Some of the tourists say, ‘I never knew Uyghurs were the owners of this land.” The fact that they don’t know about Uyghurs always makes me very sad.

All of the tourists know about Tibet, but most of them do not know about Uyghurs because until recently Uyghurs have not been in the news much and because China has never allowed the use of the name of my nation, East Turkistan, to hide its colonial reality from the world.

Since then, in order to attract more tourists, I have made a large poster that shows both Tibetans and Uyghurs.

Then I explain to tourists that East Turkistan is just like Tibet: it was invaded by

Gradually, people have come to understand the situation of the Uyghurs and East Turkistan. Now most of the people in the world know about Uyghurs and East Turkistan.

We, Uyghurs, have millions of supporters all over the world.

However, people have different opinions about the Uyghurs’ independence movement.

Some of them think that while China becomes more powerful economically, human rights dramatically fall.

But if China solves their human rights issues and guarantees Tibetans and Uyghurs to have equal human rights, then the conflict between the Han Chinese and other ethnicities will end.

For some others, the Uyghur independence movement is causing separatism for
China and will be the reason for the accusation of Uyghurs’ separatism.

I always explain to people that the Chinese government came to East Turkistan on October
20, 1949 to clean up the Guomindang and with a promise to leave in five years after they helped us establish an independent state with a communist ideology.

At that time in East Turkistan, we had an army with 40,000 well trained soldiers.

I also explain to them how the CCP vanquished our Uyghur armies by telling the tragic story of one of my relatives, Memtimin Iminov.

After the Chinese military invaded our country, the area was renamed the “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”

In reality, since that time the Uyghurs have never had any true autonomy in a strictest sense of the world.

It’s simply a label as deceptive as possible.

Under this label, the Chinese government has been brazenly trying to wipe out the Uyghurs from the face of the earth in the very eyes of the world.

I never stop trying to explain the horrors Uyghurs have been facing from Chinese militaries from the Guomindang to the CCP and their evil strategies to suppress the Uyghurs and to finish off the Uyghurs as a nation.

Some of my supporters acknowledge the facts, but some others tell me to stop my activism
for the independence of Uyghurs, otherwise they will not support me.

Nevertheless, I will keep on explaining the situation to them and providing them
with a lot of evidence-based materials.

Now we have the very well-written academic article “Independence is the only way to rescue Uyghurs.”

This article succinctly articulates the political will of the Uyghurs to achieve their independence as part of their life-and-death struggle for collective survival.

In this article, the authors convincingly argued that Uyghurs’ survival needs total independence as a political condition for their existence and development as a native people of East Turkistan.

It is of utmost importance for them to make this political dream come true as a matter of priority.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely of Mr Abdurehim Gheni, an Uyghur activist based in The Netherlands)