By Ece Koc

Eastern Turkistan is a land of 1.6 million square kilometers in the northwestern region of today’s China. For over 4,000 years, Eastern Turkestan has been the homeland of Eastern Turks, who are Caucasians, Muslim by faith, and whose native language is not even remotely related to any of the dialects of Chinese.

Throughout history this geography harbored a great civilization of Uyghurs, Kazaks, Kyrghiz and all the other Turkish nations and remained completely independent for 1,000 years until it was occupied by the Manchurians in the early 1880s. It was in 1884 that it was annexed to the Manchu Empire as the 19th province of China and re-named as the Xinjiang Province, which means “The New Territory” or “The New Dominion” in Chinese. This name by itself explains a lot about the history of occupation of Eastern Turkestan.

 Until 1949, the Eastern Turks attempted to regain their independence 42 times from the rule of the Manchu military governors and it was finally in 1933 that those in the southern part of the country could establish the East Turkestan Islamic Republic. After eleven years, in 1944,  all the Eastern Turkestani people came together under the Second Republic of East Turkestan. However both of these Republics were very short lived—the former living only for three years and the latter for five years.

The incidents that put an end to the Republic of East Turkestan and created the suffering of the Eastern Turkestani people (to the point of forced assimilation in our day) started with the mysterious crash of the airplane carrying the leaders of the Republic of East Turkestan on August 27th, 1949. Upon the arrival of the news of this crash to Beijing, Mao Zedong sent in his communist military forces to invade and occupy the East Turkestan.

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Since that date this geography has become the scene of ineffable suppression, human suffering and human rights violations that are little known and little seen by the wider world, for the Chinese government exercises strict censorship on all means of media. Even in this century of advanced communication technologies, Eastern Turkistan remains an isolated land bereft of all means of communication that would allow her people’s voice to be heard by the rest of the world.

During these years, the communist China has transformed Eastern Turkestan into a literal dungeon for the people. Communist China constantly violates the human rights of the East Turkestanis, arresting, torturing and killing the innocent. Hundreds of thousands of East Turkistanis who have bravely challenged communist authority have been executed. Since 1949, 35 million people have been either murdered or left to die of starvation caused by the red regime’s forced agricultural policy imposed on this nation. The number of people killed steadily increased during these years; between 1949 and 1952, it was 2,800,000 people; this figure increased to 13,300,000 between the years 1961 and 1965. Many people fled to other countries and hundreds of thousands have been sent to forced labor camps. In 1997, the persecution took a new turn when Chinese militia forces beat 30 local women who gathered in a mosque on Qad'r Night to recite the Koran with iron sticks and dragged them to the police headquarters. When the neighbors reacted to the situation, the corpses of the three women (who had been tortured to death in the meantime) were thrown into the street before the public. In the conflicts that arose after this incident in February 1996, a mass murder that included 200 East Turkestani occurred and more than 3,500 were driven to labor camps. On February 8th, the people who gathered in mosques to perform the prayers for Eid (religious festival), were not allowed to fulfill their prayers by the security forces. Following the incidents that occurred, the number of the detainees exceeded 70,000. 100 young people were executed by firing squads in the city squares. 5,000 East Turkestanis were stripped naked and displayed in small groups on the streets. Apart from such persecution, consistent economic penalties are imposed on people. Thousands of families have suffered from forced sterilization and forced abortions, and a policy of assimilation and colonization is being actively pursued by moving millions of ethnic Chinese into Eastern Turkestan, seeking to dilute the true native populations. Those who arrive from China enjoy many privileges like the best-paid jobs and best housing etc. Meanwhile the communist regime has a policy of eliminating East Turkestani culture and religion. Local Turkestani people are forced to be literate in Chinese and assume Chinese way of life including dress and eating habits. The ultimate goal is to transform Eastern Turkestan into “Xinjiang” with only an ethnic Chinese population. This aside, Lop Nor, a region which is supposed to be a military research center has been rendered into a horrific toxic site of nuclear waste and become a dumping area of China’s environmental waste. The number of local people who have subsequently contracted cancer or the number of deformed babies is unknown. According to local records, half a million people died from radiation alone.

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Since 2009, massacres committed by the communist Chinese have intensified. On the night of June 26th, 60 people were killed in an attack made against 600 Eastern Turks working in a factory in the Guandong Province of Shaoguan. Following the conflicts exacerbated by this incident, 796 Muslims were executed, 10,000 Muslims simply “disappeared” and 100,000 girls were taken by force from their homes.

While all this persecution is going on without most of them being noticed by the world, the Eastern Turkestanis are suffering greatly at the hands of the communist Chinese, who are systematically and ruthlessly pursuing their policy of colonization and cultural genocide.