VOICES: ‘We Are Not Extremists’ – Activists Talk Chinese Suppression
The News Lens, 21 June 2017
News Lens International — Political activists from Hong Kong, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang say they are facing increased suppression from Beijing. Hong Kong Indigenous Party founder Ray Wong (黃台仰), World Uyghur Congress Vice President Umit Hamit and Inner Mongolian People’s Party Chair Temtsiltu Shobtsood were in Taiwan last month. The News Lens interviewed the activists on the sidelines of an international defense and security conference in Taipei. Here’s what they had to say.
Ray Wong (黃台仰), Hong Kong Indigenous Party founder
I was not satisfied with the efficiency of Hong Kong’s mainstream democratic protest during the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. I realized a peaceful movement is not the right way for Hong Kong. Therefore I took an active part in the Mong Kok Protest in February 2016 and was arrested.
The world should resist China’s suppression of minorities. Since 1997, over one million Chinese have moved to Hong Kong. Our Hong Kong students are taught in Mandarin. We are gradually losing our Hong Kong language and identity.
We are seeking autonomy, local culture and identity; China is depriving all of these and trying to promote Chinese nationalism in any way it can.
I believe Hong Kong people have the right to self-determination because of the values of freedom, democracy and world peace.
My trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 15, 2018. I was charged with inciting rioting and could get a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The heavy-handed approach is a political decision by the Hong Kong government, trying to suppress the right to protest.
Many have asked me why not seek political asylum. I don’t want to escape. I would rather stay in the prison and keep my spirit with the Hongkongese.
For the security and peace of the Asia-Pacific region, the Communist Party must fall.
Umit Hamit, World Uyghur Congress vice president
China is trying to assimilate us by destroying our language, our religion and our culture.
We are not radical Islamists. We are not extremists or terrorists. China is driving us into a corner. That’s why some people fight back. Wouldn’t you fight back if you were not allowed to speak your own language, and not allowed to practice your own religion?”
What would you do if China forbade your language, destroyed your religion, destroyed your families, took away your land and killed your siblings? We can only watch but do nothing.
Xinjiang’s natural resources is the reason why China wants to assimilate us. Xinjiang is almost like China’s premier national energy hub. There are oilfields that China will never give up. That’s why it is almost impossible for us to push for independence.
China is collecting our DNA not because the people committed any crime. DNA is collected just because they want to increase surveillance of minorities.
There are 90 percent of us who want the right of self-determination and democracy in East Turkestan. We support the Taiwan independence movement because we simply believe in freedom.
Temtsiltu Shobtsood (also known as Xi Haiming, 席海明), Inner Mongolian People’s Party Chair
I came to Germany because of China’s strict surveillance.
My grandfather was killed during China’s Cultural Revolution. At least 100,000 of us were killed. Our Mongolian language, Culture and identity was hit so hard that a lot of them cannot recover now.
Unlike Taiwan or Tibet, we are weak. That is why I seek international help. We don’t ask for independence, but we refuse to be assimilated.
We don’t want to be an exhibition in a museum. We want to breathe and live as an ethnic group.
The Chinese blame us on sandstorms and say that we are over-exploiting the land. But the truth is the Chinese took away our land and mistreated it. That’s the real reason behind the sandstorms.
Reported by The News Lens International and Edited by Olivia Yang