Uyghur Update: 1st-8th September

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This video went a little viral over the Eid period. It shows a Chinese flag-raising ceremony being held before the Eid prayer. Other photos on Twitter show that the flag raising ceremony was given half an hour, and the Eid prayer was given half an hour. World’s happiest Muslims, ey? Here’s a list of ways Uyghurs are being treated unfairly. And here’s an article talking about how China has just passed new legislation to tighten regulation on religion:

The rules released by Xinhua use strong and specific language about the need to protect China’s national security against threats from religious groups.

“Religious affairs maintenance should persist in a principle of maintaining legality, curbing illegality, blocking extremism, resisting infiltration and attacking crime,” the regulations say.

“Any group or individual must not create conflict or contention between different religions, with a single religion or between religious individuals and non-religious individuals,” they say.

The officially atheist ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it keeps a tight rein on religious activities and allows only officially recognized religious institutions to operate.

The rules, which come into effect on Feb 2, 2018, also place new oversight on online discussion of religious matters, on religious gatherings, the financing of religious groups and the construction of religious buildings, among others.

They increase existing restrictions on unregistered religious groups to include explicit bans on teaching about religion or going abroad to take part in training or meetings.

There are also new provisions on establishing religious schools, using and raising religious funds, taxation. Foreign donations are banned, and fines for breaking the rules have increased.

This is an article looking into China’s plans to “stabilise” East Turkestan with economic development. Definitely read it – it’s nicely written. It talks about the ‘urban centres’ China has been building:

Many such ambitious projects around Kashgar have stagnated despite government plans to bring the poverty-stricken region’s economy on a par with the rest of the nation.

To do so, Shenzhen and 18 of the country’s other wealthiest cities and provinces have been required to pump a fraction of their gross domestic product (GDP) into Xinjiang under a “pairing assistance” programme. The rationale is “if you can improve people’s economic conditions, they will become less politically restive”, said politics lecturer Han Enze at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. But “if you look at the ground, the story in Xinjiang is a failure”, he said.

In 2010, a year after deadly riots in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi killed about 200 people, the authorities rolled out the “pairing assistance” programme to raise the region’s per capita GDP to the national average within five years. By the end of 2015, cities such as Beijing and Shanghai had invested some US$8.5 billion (S$11.5 billion) in the region, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

In 2014, President Xi Jinping shifted the focus back to security after Uighurs perpetrated a series of violent attacks across the country, killing dozens.

Two years later, the gap between Xinjiang and the rest of the country had grown wider, with its per capita GDP expanding about 18 per cent more slowly than the nation’s as a whole during the five-year period after the assistance programme began, based on calculations by AFP using government statistics.

Beijing will throw money at ET in exchange for silence in the face of their oppression. Of course, China only ever reports good things happening in the region. Personal accounts from journalists and actual tourists always seem to say otherwise though…

 

Surveillance

More on the sorts of surveillance softwares that China uses to track dissidents or anyone tbh. They’ve phased out their old software, mRAT, and are now using xRAT. Read the article for the details.

An article that goes a bit deeper into the internet crackdowns/Great Firewall in China. I feel like I’ve come across some of the ’50 Cent Army’ myself:

The system has become increasingly sophisticated, employing up to 2 million additional loyalists to join and steer conversations and debates, according to China’s state-sponsored media, where this is seen as more effective than simply blocking them. These loyalists have been dubbed the “50 Cent Army,” since each member is allegedly paid that sum each time they post in favor of the Communist Party.

Another article on how China is turning East Turkestan into a security state. This one goes really in-depth and summarises a lot of the different measures China has put in place (like the smartphone scanners and the security checkpoints) and is definitely more informed on the logistics.

 

Journalists, Activists, the UN

Journalists are also getting harassed more. In this article the journalists weren’t even reporting about Tibet, East Turkestan or politics. And yet. Click the link for stories of their harassment. Interestingly, they mention that Christianity is also being targeted for security and anti-terrorism purposes.

But of course, it’s not just the internet and foreign journalists – human rights is on the cards, too. A report by the NY Times have slated that the crackdown on human rights is at its worst since Tienanmen and also mentioned that the UN is basically on China’s leash. Human Rights Watch released a report on China’s treatment of human rights activists. They have been undermining the legitimacy of the UN:

The 96-page report, “The Costs of International Advocacy: China’s Interference in United Nations Human Rights Mechanisms,” details China’s efforts to harass independent activists, primarily those from China. Chinese officials have photographed and filmed activists on UN premises in violation of UN rules, and restricted travel by mainland activists to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. China has also used its membership on the Economic and Social Council’s Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to block NGOs critical of China from being granted UN accreditation, and it has sought – and succeeded in – blacklisting accredited activists from participating in UN events.

and this is just one known example of China murdering activists:

In a particularly egregious example, authorities in China in 2013 detained activist Cao Shunli after she urged Beijing to consult with Chinese civil society in drafting its report for its UN human rights review, and tried to travel to Geneva to participate in human rights training sessions. After Cao became gravely ill in detention and died, the Chinese delegation in Geneva in March 2014 took the extraordinary step of challenging and blocking a ruling by the Human Rights Council president allowing a moment of silence called for by NGOs.

“China is slated for its next Universal Periodic Review in 2018, but Cao Shunli’s death has sent an enduring, chilling message to Chinese activists: participate at your own risk,” Roth said.

Yeah, read the article, it’s quite harrowing. Of course, China denies everything as usual.

And on the UN, here’s a video of the HRW director speaking about the treatment of Dolkun Isa at a previous UN event (how he was detained for no reason) and the absolute inability of the UN to mention China when asked about it. And to Reuters he straight up says:

“What we found is that China is systematically trying to undermine the U.N.’s ability to defend human rights, certainly in China but also globally,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

Also, an update on Liu Xia.

 

Chinese Propaganda

You can see how deeply ingrained Chinese patriotic brainwashing is when encountering students like this who say they are uncomfortable when lecturers refer to Taiwan as a country. I think it’s fine that they express a different point of view, but to try to stop lecturers or other students from saying that? Taiwan is self governing, has its own flag, and is recognised as a country by many others. Why would they feel uncomfortable anyway? It’s not like China is being erased from the map. Everyone acknowledges that Taiwan is contested. I can’t believe these students are using pc culture to promote their stupid One China nationalism ugh.

But who can blame them, really, and it’s only going to get worse: China’s new syllabus for school kids is going to be more patriotic, more Red, and will emphasise how “Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands, and the South China Sea islands are historical and inseparable parts of China”. The media is also going to get more patriotic and propaganda-filled. I understand the need for governments to tout themselves in their own country, but this level of Party loyalty is straight-up disgusting. All of this, of course, is helping to normalise repression.

And check out this poster in Shanghai:

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Let me repeat that – in Shanghai. The picture for evil religious men are men wearing traditional Uyghur hats. But LOL they have the East Turkestan flag marked as “suspicious”. Our flag flies in Shanghai, people. For some, anti-separatist propaganda is actually the first place they see the East Turkestan flag.

 

Outside the Region

The Australian PM continues to be an idiot by telling China he’d never planned to meet the Dalai Lama on his cancelled visit. Facepalm.

Trump tweeted that he’d stop trade with any country doing business with North Korea. That includes China. lol. lol.

Ugh, China and Tajikistan.

More deals between China and Egypt. To my understanding, a lot of Uyghur communities around the world are still raising money to help those Uyghur students in Egypt and Turkey. Uyghur students who once relied on help from relatives in East Turkestan are also being left afloat as it is becoming incredibly difficult to communicate with those within the country, so money needs to be raised for them, too. I believe there are groups who have created a funding program where you can sponsor one person throughout their studies. There is also a scholarship program. Contact your local Uyghur association for more information.

 

Uyghur Organisations

More on the International PEN “Four PEN Platform” (Uyghur, Swedish, Chinese, Tibet PEN Centers) Conference in Malmo, Sweden: photos, speech from Soyungul Apay.

WUC has announced a youth training seminar in Stockholm, Sweden. WUC, UNPO, the Sweden Uyghur Education Union, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) will convene it from October 14-15th, preceded by a conference on religious freedom and language rights on the 13th. More info to come.

 

Outside of politics

Looks like Uyghurs are making a little headway in Chinese soccer leagues. The article is kinda hilarious because it just talks about the negatives instead of celebrating the victory. If I were a fan I would be really disheartened reading that.

An Unanswered Telephone Call, a story that I linked in the last update, is being translated into a few other languages. Side note: that is the type of self promotion I should aspire to do… lol…

Here’s a nice article about The Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra which includes Uyghur​ vocalist and dutar​ player Shohrat​ Tursun.

Also in Sydney – a little article about a cafe project that is attempting to make things more accessible for people with disabilities. The article features an Uyghur man and his Uyghur caseworker (St Vincent de Paul Society’s Ability Links) who are working on the project together.

Here’s a cool article about an ex-Circque-de-Soleil performer’s move to classical Tajik dance. I’ve seen her a bit on Instagram, and she does different sorts of Central Asian dances, including Uyghur:

People ask me, “What does that look like? It’s kind of like Bellydance, right? ” or “Yeah, I think I’ve seen that style before, isn’t it kind of like Indian dance?” Central Asian dance is highly diverse and each regional style is evocative of its environment, acting as a living link to the land. Most people are surprised to learn that Tajikistan has a classical dance form called Shashmakom that is technically rigorous, and like ballet, was patronized in the royal courts of the Emirs and has been around for over a thousand years. Or Uyghur dance, for example, is highly rhythmic, with nuanced shoulder isolations, swift spins, complex footwork, knee spins, drops to the floor, backbends and fluid yet intricate hand gestures with specific finger placements. A lifetime of study in the style is not enough to learn all there is to know.

 

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