Separate and Unequal: The Status of Development in East Turkestan
October 1, 2009 will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and officials from Beijing to East Turkestan are pulling out all the stops to ensure that no discord mars the scripted celebrations that will take place. The year 2009 in East Turkestan marks one of the most turbulent periods in the region in modern history, with unrest, state brutality and ethnic violence exposing deep social rifts and grossly flawed government policies. More than 130,000 troops have been specially deployed to East Turkestan from other regions of China in a bid to restore order and crack down on the Uyghur population, following an untold number of deaths and injuries that began on July 5, 2009.
Against this backdrop, the Chinese government has issued a “White Paper on Development and Progress in Xinjiang”, declaring that ethnic harmony in East Turkestan has made great strides, and the only factor inhibiting social harmony and economic prosperity in the region is that of “East Turkestan terrorist forces” supported by “hostile foreign forces”. The Uyghur American Association (UAA) fears that the Chinese government’s complete lack of introspection into the failures of its own policies, combined with its reliance on brute force to maintain order, represents a dangerous combination. Without an examination of the shortcomings in official policy that are at the root of social discontent and inequality among Uyghurs, Han Chinese, and others in East Turkestan, true peace and stability will exist only in government propaganda.
A short report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) highlights the inequalities in development and the policy failures that lie at the heart of social discontent in East Turkestan, including a lack of participation in how development projects are carried out, widespread joblessness, and the state-led erosion of cultural identity.
The report can be downloaded here.