Land-Grab Farmers in Xinjiang Held For Speaking to 'Hostile' Media

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 16:14 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Government slogans along a highway in the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County in Xinjiang's Ili prefecture encouraging people to be profit-oriented. Photo: RFA

Authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang have detained and interrogated several farmers on suspicion of revealing state secrets and speaking to "hostile" media organizations, relatives said this week. The detentions came after local farming communities, who include ethnic minority Kazakhs, Uyghurs and Xibe, as well as migrant Han Chinese farmers, protested the canceling of their 30-year and 50-year land leases by officials in the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County in Xinjiang's Ili prefecture. "They summoned my husband to the police station [where] I heard the police officer say that someone had called up Radio Free Asia," the wife of farmer Shen Zhihe told RFA's Mandarin Service. She said Shen was detained in a raid by armed police nearly a week ago, alongside several other outspoken farmers in the county who are fighting the loss of 12,000 hectares (120 square kilometers) of farmland which they invested in as part of a western development program begun in the late 1990s.

Cambodia’s Deportation of Uighurs to China Remembered

Fri, 12/27/2013 - 00:25 -- Kanat
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Dec. 21, 2009.

Four years after the forcible deportation of 20 Uighur asylum seekers from Cambodia to China, an advocacy group has said it remains “deeply concerned” about their fate and has called on China to lift a veil of secrecy surrounding their treatment.In a statement, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), which is based in Munich, said on Friday that 17 members of the Turkic ethnic group, who had already applied for asylum in Cambodia, “are confirmed to still be in detention [in China], some of whom have been sentenced to between 16 years and life in prison.”

Tibetans, Uyghurs call for end to China’s Confucius Institutes

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 13:22 -- Kanat
Sonia Zhao gives a speech about the persecution of Falun Gong in China at a rally in Toronto in August 2011. Zhao, a former instructor at the Confucius Institute at McMaster University, had to sign a statement promising not to practice Falun Gong when she was in China before joining the institute. (Gordon Yu/Epoch Times)

Confucius Institutes in various universities around the world are operated by the Chinese Communist Government, using 'cultural exchanges' and 'exhibitions' as part of their soft-power tactics to spread propaganda. In their statement1 released on December 17, the CAUT executive James Turk said, "Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government." "Simply put, Confucius Institutes are owned and operated by an authoritarian government and beholden to its politics," Turk stated. "Our educators here in Canada play a vital role in influencing the future of this nation, especially in terms of integrity, policies, and values." said Urgyen Badheytsang,

Uyghur Hip-Hop as Folk Music

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 12:05 -- Kanat

Adil Mijit is not the only Uyghur comedian to incorporate a discussion of hip-hop into his performances. In the recent state-sponsored film Shewket’s Summer directed by Pan Yu with assistance from Beijing Film Academy students, Abdukerim Abliz joins the Uyghur hip-hop crew Six City as a reticent folk musician. The film, which is both a “coming-of-age” and “parent-trap” melodrama, highlights the way conflicts resolved at the level of the family have larger implications for society. Although the film is heavy in the propaganda of ethnic harmony (a Han character named Luobin [!] is featured as an aspiring musician in search of “original” tunes and then as an inspiration to the Uyghur characters), the slick production values and money behind the film present Uyghur folk arts in a strongly positive light. As a wise Native American activist and anthropologist once told me, “If The Man offers you money, you take the money.”

Chinese Highhandedness on Uyghurs

Mon, 12/23/2013 - 10:00 -- Kanat
Scarves are sold at a silk factory in Hotan, in China's far west Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in a file photo.

Beijing claims being a ‘victim’ of terrorism perpetuated by what it refers to as “East Turkistan terrorist forces,” comprising the Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR). Beijing has alleged that the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement,” which purportedly has links with Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida as well as many other Central and West Asian terrorist organisations is waging a “holy war with the aim of setting up a theocratic ‘Islamic state’ in Xinjiang.”

China’s Xinjiang Predicament: Time To Look Out Of The Box – Analysis

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 16:19 -- Kanat
Uyghur women protesting during the July 2009 Urumqi unrest

THE BLOODY clash between ethnic Uighurs and the Chinese police that took place on 15 December 2013 in Xinjiang reflects a reality that rising China faces today. It was the fourth outbreak of such violence that has flared in Xinjiang since April 2013 in which at least 84 people have been killed and 25 others injured. The Chinese government’s reaction to the incident was as usual: Beijing called it a “terrorist” attack blaming a “violent terrorist gang” in Xinjiang for it, and scaled up security measures to stabilise the region. However, enhanced security measures alone cannot realistically be expected to curb violence in the region, especially when social and economic discontent of its Uighur minority remains unresolved.

Dispatches From Xinjiang: Sufi Poetry And The Uyghur Justin Bieber

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 11:03 -- Kanat

The Uyghur-language songs of teen heartthrob Ablajan Awut Ayup run on a loop through the heads of many Uyghur tweens and young urbanites. Taking cues from Justin Bieber, the ever-popular dance moves of the late-Michael Jackson, and the pretty-gangster affect of Korean pop stars, Ablajan is a self-styled chart-climber; he is a self-made song-and-dance man. Whether you love him or hate him, the fact remains that he has cornered the Uyghur children’s music market by tying clever songwriting with catchy beats. Yet beneath this veneer of slightly irritating auto-tuning, dance rhythms, and theatrical spectacle are melancholic questions.

Languishing in the Republic's wake...

Thu, 12/19/2013 - 10:44 -- Kanat
The Old Town of Kashgar (Photo: Ananth Krishnan)

On Sunday night, 16 people were killed in the latest violence to hit Xinjiang, China’s far western Muslim-majority region. The violence took place, according to reports, near Kashgar, an old Silk Road city close to China’s western border, that is, in some sense, the spiritual and cultural home of Xinjiang’s native Uighurs, an ethnic Turkic Muslim group that is one of China’s 55 minorities. If you look at a map of China, you will see how close Kashgar is to Ladakh. When I first travelled to Kashgar, around five years ago, a local guide told me of the region’s cultural and historical links to Ladakh (which, he told me, once lay within the frontiers of the kingdom of Kashgar many centuries ago). One still finds clues to this history in Ladakh, too. Recently, Daulet Beg Oldi in Ladakh found itself in the national headlines as it was the site of a stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops. The site lies on an old road that was once a trading route to Kashgar, and, I was told during my visit, was named after a 16th century aristocrat who spent some of his life in Kashgar.

North Africa: Are the Chinese Next On Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's Hit List?

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 11:33 -- Kanat
Cops on patrol in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Photo: CNN)

Although China's suppression of its Uyghur population - a largely Muslim Turkic ethnic group mostly living in Xinjiang province, in China's far Northwest - has not been fully internationalised by al-Qaeda, there are signs this is beginning to change. The Uyghurs have long been demanding autonomy and freedom to practice their religion, and over the past decade, the government has responded by suppressing protests, arresting activists and allegedly trying to dilute Uyghur influence in the region by encouraging the mass immigration of Han Chinese to the area. In 2009, these tensions led to riots breaking out in the city of Ürümqi between Uyghurs, Han Chinese and police. According to officials, nearly 200 people were killed, though some groups believe the death toll was higher, and over 1,700 people were injured.

North Korea is more accessible to foreign journalists than Tibet is

Wed, 12/18/2013 - 10:47 -- Kanat
Two Tibetan women look out over the snow in Guoluo Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

The Tibetan Autonomous Region of China has been largely closed to the outside world since it was wracked by popular protests in 2008. But the extreme degree of its isolation is hinted at by this very revealing fact: There are more foreign journalists in North Korea than there are in Tibet. That's according to Tibet scholar Carole McGranahan, who is a professor of the University of Colorado at Boulder and who made the point during a recent lecture at Yale University, video of which is embedded below. McGranahan discussed the rising trend of Tibetan self-immolations – a form of political protest against Chinese rule – and the challenge of understanding Tibet's turmoil. Beijing's near-total isolation of Tibet, though, makes it awfully difficult for the outside world to see or understand what's happening there. Presumably, that's part of the point; Chinese rule in Tibet can be shockingly severe, as can the ongoing efforts to assimilate Tibetan people and culture into the rest of China.


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