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Uyghur American Association remembers 9/11

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 19:56 -- Kanat

For immediate release
September 10, 2014, 10:30am EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur American Association (UAA) mourns the victims of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States and extends its sympathies to the families of those individuals who lost their lives. As Uyghur Americans, we stand with our fellow citizens of all backgrounds in remembering 9/11 and condemn terrorism.

UAA also reminds the international community of the Chinese government’s opportunism over 9/11. Following the attacks on the United States, Chinese officials manipulated the tragedy to abruptly claim an upsurge in “Uyghur terrorism.” To date, China has not offered independently verifiable evidence of its assertions and has implemented anti-terror measures that violate the fundamental human rights of the Uyghur people.

“As an American, 9/11 is a day of solemn reflection, as well as a time to reaffirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to democracy in the face of terror. As a Uyghur, 9/11 marks the day when Uyghurs’ peaceful expression of legitimate grievances became recast as terrorism in order to satisfy Beijing’s political ends,” said UAA president, Alim Seytoff in a statement.

“The Chinese state seized the occasion of 9/11 to exploit the Uyghurs’ faith in Islam as a means to assert tight political control over East Turkestan. Any form of dissent to repressive government policies has been classed as terrorism in an effort to mute support for Uyghur aspirations of freedom, democracy and human rights. Furthermore, credible reports of excessive force used against Uyghurs during alleged anti-terror operations demonstrate China’s commitment to the ideology of power over genuine stability.”

UAA is troubled that a May 23, 2014 announcement of a one-year anti-terror campaign in East Turkestan has resulted in human rights violations in East Turkestan.

Overseas media reports cited Xinjiang party chief, Zhang Chunxian as stating the anti-terror crackdown will employ “unconventional measures.” Since May 23, Chinese and overseas media have described on a series of region wide mass trials, death sentences, and executions. UAA is concerned that due process of law has not been observed in these cases, given the speed and atmosphere of retribution in the region. State media reported in August that drones were deployed in East Turkestan as part of the anti-terror campaign, a sign of increasing militarization in the region.

In addition, in a report dated September 8, 2014, AP raised the probability “that Chinese police are excessively using deadly force” during security operations aimed at Uyghurs. China’s lack of transparency in so-called terrorism cases and conflation between peaceful dissent and violence is also call for concern over the legality of the current crackdown.

The Chinese government often exploits the Uyghurs’ faith in Islam in order to justify repression in East Turkestan. A survey undertaken by AP, cited in an article dated September 4, 2011, highlighted an increase in terror arrests worldwide in the decade after 9/11. Of the 66 countries surveyed, accounting for 70% of the world’s population, China was one of two countries accounting for half of the 35,117 terror related convictions recorded. The AP article concluded “dozens of countries are using the fight against terrorism to curb political dissent.” Chinese authorities continue to defend their crackdowns in East Turkestan in the name of fighting the “three evil forces of separatism, terrorism, and extremism.

UAA calls on the Chinese government to end its one-year anti-terror campaign. UAA believes anti-terror measures targeting the Uyghur people operate outside of international law. State violence perpetrated against the Uyghur people will only exacerbate the tensions in East Turkestan and do not offer a solution to legitimate Uyghur political, economic, social and cultural grievances.

Furthermore, UAA calls on China to change repressive policies and to engage in a genuine and meaningful dialogue with Uyghurs to improve conditions in East Turkestan. Uyghurs should be active participants and decision-makers in the determination of their future and not further marginalized through state use of force and indifference to social discrimination.

UAA urges the international community to continue its vigilance over Chinese government claims of Uyghur terrorism and to ask Chinese officials to offer substantial and verifiable evidence when such assertions are made. Concerned governments and multilateral agencies should seek clarification over the legality of current anti-terror measures in East Turkestan and oblige China to respect international standards of human rights.