I rappresentanti deI Progetto Uyghur dei diritti umani (UHRP)sono preoccupati per le recenti osservazioni di alti funzionari della Regione autonoma dello Xinjiang, nell’est Turkestan, che, durante il loro incontro hanno deciso di conferire un ampio mandato ai delegati del governo regionale di reprimere le proteste pacifiche.Segue l’articolo in inglese
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) is concerned that recent remarks by top officials in East Turkestan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) during an annual series of meetings of regional government delegates provide a broad mandate for local authorities to crack down on peaceful expressions of Uyghur identity and dissent.
Provincial Party Secretary Wang Lequan told members of the People´s Armed Police Forces on January 11 that the “three forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism” appeared to be preparing a series of attacks in the region. Deputy Communist Party Secretary Nur Bakri was quoted in official Chinese media as telling 500 government delegates on January 7 to be on guard against the “three evil forces”, and to be prepared for a “long-term battle” against these elements.
Official dictates against the “three evil forces” often coincide with a spike in arrests of Uyghurs in East Turkestan, followed by long-term detention, imprisonment, torture and even execution. Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, Chinese government authorities have used the “war on terror” as a pretext for cracking down on religious and political dissent in the region. Tens of thousands of Uyghurs are believed to have been detained in the years since 2001. Individuals caught up in this campaign include Tohti Tunyaz, a PhD scholar serving an 11-year sentence for conducting historical research in East Turkestan deemed subversive by government officials, and Nurmemet Yasin, a young Uyghur poet and intellectual who was imprisoned for writing an allegorical story about a pigeon that was viewed as separatist.
According to the China News Service, Wang cautioned the region´s armed police, upgraded in late 2008 into a full army-level unit, to be prepared to safeguard social stability and to counter potential unrest. The upgrade of the East Turkestan unit of the People´s Armed Police Forces will enhance its level of power and resources.
According to the China Daily newspaper, Bakri urged people to take a “clear-cut stand against ethnic separatism and illegal activities being carried out under the cover of religion.” He also stressed the importance of maintaining “social stability” in the region- a phrase that, together with “harmonious society”, is often used to promote adherence to the party line and discourage criticism of government policies.
In a somewhat unusual reference to social grievances that pervade Uyghur communities in East Turkestan, Bakri also called upon local officials to pay attention to problems including land acquisition and house relocation. While the sincerity of this official call for justice may be called into question, UHRP urges officials in East Turkestan to adopt mechanisms that facilitate the prompt redress of such issues.
“Government authorities in East Turkestan should develop methods for addressing the unjust acquisition of land and property belonging to Uyghurs, a problem which is becoming all too common,” said democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “Instead of using resources to suppress the Uyghur people and contain discontent, however lawful, the government should deal constructively with genuine problems affecting Uyghurs´ daily lives.”
On January 9, Rozi Ismail, president of the Higher People’s Court of Xinjiang, pledged to crack down on separatist forces with an iron fist. He said the region´s highest court had processed 268 cases related to endangering state security last year, and went on to cite attempts by the three evil forces to attack and disrupt the Beijing Olympics and the Olympic torch relay.
As the rights organization Freedom House noted in its most recent report on the state of freedom in the world, Uyghurs in East Turkestan continue to suffer severe restrictions on their freedom to practice Islam. These restrictions include a ban on versions of the Koran not approved by the state; a ban on beards for men working in the state sector; and tightly-controlled management of all mosques, stifling religious traditions that have formed a crucial part of the Uyghur identity for centuries.
Earlier this year, the official Chinese media reported a rise in reported arrests for terrorism, extremism and other state security charges in East Turkestan, with nearly 1,300 arrests reported for the year 2008. Under Chinese law, individuals can be prosecuted for “endangering state security” if they are believed to have engaged in subversion, “splittism”, and “illegally providing state secrets to overseas entities,” all charges that are of a highly subjective nature in the PRC. UHRP believes the rise in arrests represents a concerted campaign to stamp out all forms of dissent among Uyghurs in the region, and is concerned about the systemic lack of transparency obscuring information about individuals arrested on state security charges.
A “life or death struggle” was announced by Wang in August. Media reports suggested that large-scale military, public security and armed police personnel were mobilized in East Turkestan in the fall, and news reports have indicated the implementation of intensified ideological campaigns throughout the region in recent months.
In September, Bakri accused Western nations of instigating terrorism, separatism and extremism in East Turkestan. Without offering evidence to substantiate his assertions, Bakri stated that “Western hostile forces” were responsible for a series of violent attacks that occurred during the Olympics period in the region. Calling these forces “the most important external factor in the continuing rise of ethnic splittist, destructive activities” in East Turkestan, Bakri maintained that they posed a significant threat they from abroad to the security and social stability of the region.