Uyghur Organizations Set to Stage Demonstrations on National Day of the People’s Republic of China
Coinciding with the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the 59th anniversary of the creation of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), on October 1st, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and other international organizations representing the Uyghur cause will stage demonstrations to protest the continued human rights abuses in East Turkestan.
October 1st acts as a day of mourning for the loss of freedom and basic human rights since the founding of the PRC in 1949 and the XUAR in 1955. Demonstrations will be staged in Turkey, the United States and Canada, along with a number of European states. Munich will hold a demonstration in front of the Chinese consulate between 15:30-17:30.
Such an anniversary provides an opportunity to address the long-standing tensions in the region and to call attention to their historical roots. These past decades have seen major changes in East Turkestan, from state policy to religious freedom to its ethnic makeup and cultural distinctiveness. For 65 years, Uyghurs have undergone discrimination on economic and political lines and suffered religious and cultural persecution.
Ethnic tensions have risen as a result of increasingly intolerant policies coupled with the intentional diminution of the Uyghur people as a proportion of the total population. Education and employment opportunities for Uyghurs in East Turkestan remain bleak, with language polices in schools and the workplace favouring the Han population severely limiting upward mobility. Peaceful coexistence can be possible if the state willfully allocates commensurate resources to support all citizens, but regrettably, this has not yet been the case.
The past year has seen only growing tensions resulting in countless deadly incidents, most often involving Chinese police and security forces. Detentions have also been on the rise, with hundreds arrested since the introduction of a new one-year anti-terror campaign back in May. Mass trials, death sentences and executions have also featured prominently in 2014, with due process often overlooked.
Attention must also be paid to the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, as it acts as yet another illustration of how strict state policies have continually suppressed peaceful dissent designed to enact change from the ground up. It is in the opinion of the WUC, along with countless other pro-democracy groups in China since 1949, that decision-making powers fall much too far on the side of the state. It is the people that deserve the right to determine their own future – something sorely lacking over the previous 65 years in the PRC.
The WUC and other Uyghur organizations in exile therefore call on the Chinese government to take the necessary steps to enter into constructive dialogue with its people and to ensure that internationally recognized human rights norms are respected.