PRESS RELEASE: THE WUC COMMEMORATES THE 32nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAREN UPRISING
Press Release – For Immediate Release
05 April 2022
Contact: World Uyghur Congress www.uyghurcongress.org
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 or [email protected]
On the 32nd anniversary of the Baren Uprising, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) commemorates its victims and highlights the repression that would follow. In the aftermath of the Baren uprising, which took place in Akto County, Kizilsu Kirghiz Prefecture, from April 5 to 10, 1990, approximately two to three thousand Uyghurs lost their lives. This contributed to the rapid deterioration of human rights for the Uyghur people in East Turkistan.
‘’The Baren Uprising is still fresh in our collective memory. The police brutality against peaceful protestors then was witnessed again decades later’’, said WUC President, Dolkun Isa. ‘’The Baren Uprising should have alarmed the international community, but the silence then only contributed to the brutal repression that followed.’’
On April 5th 1990, the first day of the Baren Uprising, a group of around 200 Uyghur men marched to the local government office in Akto County, demanding greater representation and speaking out against the significant influx of Chinese migrants into East Turkistan as well as the wider discriminatory policies and religious and cultural restrictions on the Uyghur people. By the end of April 6th, over 18,000 Chinese troops had been reportedly dispatched to the region to suppress the demonstrations, whereas the population of Baren at the time was only 19,000. Four days later, the demonstrations had been brutally dispersed, leading to the deaths of countless Uyghurs.
These demonstrations in the early 90s – and the brutal crackdown by the Chinese authorities – would lead to the Chinese “strike hard” campaigns throughout the decade. The Ghulja Massacre, during which hundreds of peaceful protestors were killed by Chinese security forces and thousands were arrested afterwards, stands out as the culmination of the Chinese authorities’ violence against Uyghurs protesting for their rights and freedoms to be respected. In 2009, during the Urumchi Massacre, Uyghurs went through a similar crackdown once again.
The Chinese government has attempted to silence Uyghurs for decades through consistent campaigns of violence, fear and intimidation to eliminate any form of dissent. These five days in April 1990 not only serve as a horrific memory but as a symbol of the ongoing repressive policies exercised by the Chinese government in East Turkistan, which have also extended to Tibetans, Hong Kongers, Southern Mongolians and Chinese rights activists.
32 years ago, the international community failed to adequately hold China accountable for brutally cracking down on peaceful protestors. Instead, these forms of persecution have escalated into a full-scale genocide, threatening the existence of the Uyghurs as a people, highlighting the urgent need for tangible action to prevent further escalation.