Mar 30, 2005

IFPRERLOM Draws Attention to Human Rights Violations in East Turkestan

East Turkestan continues to be a region where the Uyghurs are waging a life and death struggle for survival. Their freedoms and human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are being violated by the Chinese governmen

Economic and Social Council

Distr. General


18 March 2005

English only



Sixty-first session

Item 9 of the provisional agenda




Written statement submitted by the International Federation for the Protection of the Rights of Ethnic, Religious, Linguistic and Other Minorities, a non-governmental organization on the Roster

The Secretary-General has received the following written statement which is circulated in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. [2 March 2005]

* This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).




East Turkestan, known as “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” in present-day China, continues to be a region where the Uyghurs are waging a life and death struggle for survival. Their fundamental freedoms and human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are being violated by the Chinese authorities on a massive scale. At the same time, the influx of Chinese settlers, together with coercive birth control among Uyghur women and the systematic sinozation of the Uyghur language pose the biggest threat to the survival of the Uyghurs. The people of East Turkestan continue to be arrested, tortured and executed on political grounds. However, after the unprovoked barbaric terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, the Chinese authorities staged a worldwide campaign to portray Uyghurs as “terrorists”. Despite concerns expressed by the international community, the Chinese authorities use the war against international terrorism as an excuse to launch a massive crackdown upon the Uyghurs. According to Amnesty International, since 11 September, 2001, the Chinese authorities have arrested more than 3,000 Uyghurs, with detainees suffering inhuman torture. More than 200 Uyghurs have been executed on political grounds while 50 people were sentenced to death for so-called separatist and terrorist activities.

For instance, three Uyghurs – Shaheer Ali, Abdu Allah Sattar and Khenzum Whashim Ali - were forcibly returned to China by the Nepalese authorities in 2002. All three men were recognised as “persons of concern” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees after their arrival in Nepal and were awaiting third country resettlement at the time of their deportation. Shaheer Ali and Abdu Allah Sattar were detained by the Nepalese immigration authorities in December 2001 and forcibly returned to China in January 2002. Khenzum Whashim Ali was deported in mid-2002. According to Amnesty International, Abdu Allah Sattar and Khenyum Whashim Ali were detained in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, but their fates remain unknown. Officials confirmed in October that Shaheer Ali had been executed after being found guilty of "terrorist" offences in a closed trial. Shaheer Ali had secretly left behind a detailed testimony in which he described being beaten, given electric shocks and kicked unconscious during a previous period of detention in 1994. (

It is not the first time that China is blaming the Uyghurs for the “troubles” in East Turkestan. During the past 55 years, the Chinese authorities have branded Uyghurs as “The agents of the American Paper Tigers”, “The puppets of the Soviet hegemonists”, “Counterrevolutionaries”, “Pan-Turkists”, “Separatists” and “terrorists”, depending on which slogan suited Beijing’s political agenda. China’s current campaign to label the Uyghurs as “terrorists” is a part of their strategy as outlined in a secret document of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, “Defending the Stability of Xinjiang”, adopted on March 19, 1996. This document stated that the Chinese government must “through disinformation, prevent by all means, the separatist forces from making the so-called East Turkestan problem international”.

Before 1949 there were only 300,000 Chinese settlers in East Turkestan. But the figure is now more than 7 million according to official Chinese census. Observers, however, believe that this figure is much higher. It is estimated that every year 250, 000 Chinese settlers are moving into East Turkestan. According to reliable sources in East Turkestan, in the long run, the Chinese authorities are planning to settle at least 40 to 50 million Chinese into the region. Population transfer, including the implantation of settlers and settlements, was recognised by the Sub- Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in its resolution 1991, 92 and 93, to affect the basic human rights and freedoms of not only the peoples being moved or removed by the governments, but also of the original inhabitants of the territory into which settlers are being implanted. In its resolution, the Sub-Commission also noted that this practice could even constitute genocide. As stated above, population transfer can violate the rights not only of the people being moved, but also those into whose territory settlers are being moved. Thus, with the steady flow of Chinese settlers into East Turkestan its original inhabitants are faced with the danger of becoming a small minority in their own homeland and thereby losing their cultural identity. This policy of demographic aggression not only violates the right to self-determination of the peoples concerned. Here also, economic, social and cultural rights are linked to other fundamental human rights. Invariably, the economic, social and cultural situation of the victim people is also damaged.

The ever-growing Chinese settlers’ population has brought about widespread unemployment, hunger and disaster to the Uyghur people. The Chinese have monopolised not only political and economic authority and influence, but control in almost all walks of life in Xinjiang. As a result, there is no unemployment among the Chinese, but among the Uyghurs the unemployment rate is growing at an alarming rate. Despite the region’s natural wealth, the Uyghurs live at bare subsistence level with almost 80 percent of them living below the threshold of poverty.

According to a report released by the Xinjiang Provincial Government on November 2001, the average income of the Chinese settlers in East Turkestan is 3.6 times higher than that of an Uyghur. About 85 per cent of the Uyghur people are farmers. According to the same official Chinese report, the average annual income of an Uyghur farmer is 820 Yuan or 100 US dollars whereas a Chinese farmer in East Turkestan earns an annual income of 3,000 Yuan. Most of the fertile land in the region is occupied by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps or briefly XPCC or Bintuan. Thus, especially in the Southern parts of East Turkestan many Uyghur farmers are living below subsistence.

In order to restrain the growth of the Uyghur population coercive birth control is being carried out among the Uyghur women, directly contradicting China’s stated policy of implementing special, preferential population policies for the minority nationalities. Recently, in the town of Chapchal, with a population of 180,000, only 100 women were allowed to give birth. In the same town, 40 Uyghurs working in the Chinese administration were fired from their jobs because their wives were pregnant. According to the source of the information, coercive birth control has lead to the deaths of thousands women and children throughout Xinjiang. Contrary to “one child” policy in mainland China, the Chinese settlers in East Turkestan are allowed to have more children.

Today, the Chinese authorities are pursuing a policy of systematic sinocization of the Uyghur language and literature. Until 1949, literary language of the Uyghurs contained almost no Chinese words. But now, large quantity of Chinese words have been introduced into Uyghur vocabulary, and in this regard, several thousand already existing Uyghur words in Uyghur vocabulary have been removed for reasons such as “not favourable to the socialist construction” or “national unity” and replaced by Chinese terms. According to Uyghur scholars, the situation has reached an alarming proportion. In today’s Uyghur vocabulary you can find, in almost every corner, one or more Chinese words. If preventive steps are not taken, the Uyghur language, a most representative language of the Altay Language Family, which played a major role in the enrichment of Central Asian civilization for almost two thousand years, will soon disappear from the linguistic scene. Furthermore, the Chinese authorities have also banned all Uyghur language schools in East Turkestan by merging them with Chinese language schools, imposing Chinese as the language of instruction.

As a result of the current policies of the Chinese authorities, the people of East Turkestan remain in a very desperate and frustrated situation. This frustration can lead to grave consequences for all concerned, particularly the Uyghurs. Therefore, there is now an urgent need to defuse the rising tensions in East Turkestan aiming at an end to the gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Uyghurs. Respect for human rights is an essential element in a situation that requires conflict prevention. China’s view on human rights is most paradoxical. China rejects the principles to protect labour rights in labour camps or the rights of Chinese dissidents and the aspirations of the peoples of East Turkestan, and Tibet.

In conclusion, we appeal the UN Commission on Human Rights to adopt a resolution, which will call upon the Chinese authorities to:

• Extend an open invitation to all thematic mandates of the Commission and to receive them on official missions in Xinjiang;

• End so-called “Strike Hard” campaigns aimed at terrorizing the entire Uyghur population

• Put an end to the practice of the death penalty on political and religious dissidents

• Release all political and religious prisoners

• Guarantee the preservation of the cultural, religious and national identity of Uyghurs

• Ensure the human rights of the Uyghur people and honour the autonomy of status of East Turkestan by allowing them to directly rule the region.

Source: UNCHR