Monday, July 23, 2007

China's 'War On Terror' Used As Cover For Brutal Crackdown On Uighur Muslims

The key leaders of the Western alliance of the 'War on Terror', US President Bush, Australia's Prime Minister Howard, and former British PM Blair, consistently denied the 'WoT' was actually a war on Muslims, despite the vast majority of the more than 500,000 civilian deaths in the war being primarily followers of Islam.

In China's 'War on Terror', there are no such denials. In fact, China is using the Western media brand of 'WoT' to flog the hell out of Muslim seperatists in East Turkenstan, in China's far west. Those of the 9 million Uighur Muslims who want to break their homeland away from China, or least publicly declare independence, are 'terrorists'.

The West has been uniformly silent on the crushing of dissent and the long string of executions and police actions undertaken by the Chinese authorities on Uighur Muslims. How can they object? The wide-open doctrine of the 'War on Terror' all but says a country can declare any group or people to be 'terrorists', and then deal with them as the United States deals with the 'terrorists' in Iraq and Afghanistan - executions, torture, massacres, indiscriminate and lengthy detentions without charge.

A solid report from the London Times lays out the details of China's war against the Uighur Muslims, describing the Uighur's fight for a homeland as one of history's great lost causes (excerpts) :
The dying embers of (the Uighurs) struggle flamed into protests, shootings and bombings in the 1990s, all concealed from the world until September 11, 2001, when China discovered the usefulness of the “war on terror”.

Today China is waging a propaganda and security battle to guarantee its control over Xinjiang, its name for the vast province rich in minerals and strategic supplies of oil and gas which are vital to the expanding Chinese economy.

China claims that Al-Qaeda has trained more than 1,000 members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, classified as a terrorist group by America and the United Nations.

The group took its name from the short-lived Republic of East Turkestan that was declared in Xinjiang after the second world war, then crushed by the communist revolution of 1949.

China has persuaded Pakistan and Kazakhstan to hand over captured militants for interrogation, secret trials and execution, a policy that may have fuelled the fundamentalist rage now gripping Pakistan.

Next month 1,600 Chinese troops will join exercises with Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics to cooperate against Islamic extremists.

Chinese security services have also created a pervasive apparatus of informers and deployed new units of black-clad antiterrorist police to patrol around mosques and markets in the cities of Xinjiang.

Two western intelligence officers said the Chinese consistently exaggerated Uighur terrorist links with Al-Qaeda to exploit any opportunity to strike at their home-grown opponents. Chinese information was unreliable and no western intelligence service had handed back Muslim citizens to China, they said.

One of the officers said the real concern was that Chinese repression was creating recruits for terrorism.

In recent weeks has come proof that 58 years of Chinese military occupation have crushed significant opposition but failed to win loyalty. Officials have confiscated the passports of thousands of Muslims in a crackdown to break the growing influence of militant Islam.

Police ordered the Muslims to hand in their passports and told them that the documents would be returned only for travel approved by the authorities.

The aim is to stop Chinese Muslims slipping away to join militants in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

...the clash of civilisations resounds loudest in Kashgar, 2,400 miles west of Beijing, a crossroads of religions, commerce and culture. In January, only 48 miles to the southwest, “antiterrorist” units raided a training camp in the mountains where the old Silk Road winds into Pakistan, and killed 18 men with the loss of one policeman.

The clash was hailed by the state media, which called it a blow to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. But Chinese residents said the operation was bungled, allowing militants to escape.

In 1949 the Uighurs were 90% of the population of Xinjiang. Today they account for less than half.

In Urumqi, the industrialised capital city of Xinjiang, there was evidence that repression had united Uighurs with rival Muslim sects. A red banner hung from the eaves of a 100-year-old mosque, whose lines recalled a classical Chinese temple and whose congregation were members of the Hui, a Muslim minority from central China. “All pilgrimages to Mecca must be organised by the National Islamic Organisation under the law,” it read.

All over Xinjiang, China can point to growing prosperity, cleaner water, new schools, paved roads, modern hospitals, efficient airports, cybercom-merce and huge energy plants.

The price, say Uighurs, is the slow extinction of their identity. Their children take compulsory Chinese lessons. Teaching in Uighur is banned at the main university. Their fabled literature, poetry and music are fading under the assault of karaoke culture. Their history is rewritten.

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