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China Letter-News and Human Rights

China human rights news with focus on the Uygur of Xinjiang, Tibetans and Tibet, Chinese mining workers, religion, corruption and censorship.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

China, Kazakhstan joint statement on Uygur Terrrorism

China and Kazakhstan agree to fight "East Turkistan terrorism"

In Beijing on Monday Chinese President Hu Jintao and visiting Kazakhstan President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev signed a joint statement signaling agreement on several issues of importance between their two countries.

One notable aspect of the statement from a human-rights perspective was the agreement on the joint combating of "terrorism" in the region.

The joint statement includes agreement that both countries consider

"terrorism, separatism and extremism as severe threats to global security and stability, and will expand bilateral and multilateral cooperation to campaign against those threats."

Not an unusual agreement between countries in this day and age however China has once again used a bi-lateral agreement to specifically raise the 'spectre' of 'East Turkistan' terrorism, a barrow it pushes ad nauseum in negotiations with foreign countries almost to the degree it pushes acceptance of it's "One China" Policy.

"The two sides will, within the bilateral agreed framework, continue to effectively strike terrorism in all forms and terrorist groups and terrorists recognized by the United Nations, including the "East Turkistan" force that imposes a direct threat to regional security and stability."

"East Turkistan" terrorism is a reference to the Uygur ethnic minority of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's north west which, prior to the Qing dynasty and for a short period in the 1940's, ran the independent Uygur state of East Turkistan in present day Xinjiang.

This Muslim Turkic minority of some 9 million has been accused by China continually since "9/11" as being a hotbed of Islamic extremism, separatism and terrorism despite there being no concrete evidence of "terrorist" type activity since 1997 when, in retaliation for a brutal suppression of an Uygur demonstration, unidentified person or persons detonated a bomb on a bus in the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi killing five civilians.

The joint statement nicely dovetails some justification for this agreement by tying it to "terrorist groups and terrorists" recognised by the United Nations. This is in reference to the 2002 listing by the U.N. of a relatively unknown Uygur organisation the East Turkistan Islamic Party (ETIM) as an international terrorist group at the behest of China and with the support of the United States.

This 'agreement' between Kazakhstan and China is of concern for two reasons Firstly it ominously reiterates the Chinese government's assertions as to Uygur 'terrorism' which it has used since "9/11" as a pretext for its continuing violations of the Uygurs human rights and, secondly, it seconds Kazakhstan into this oppression.

Given that Kazakhstan borders Xinjiang and that it is predominantly a Muslim country sharing common ethnicity with the Uygurs it has been, historically, a destination for Uygur political refugees. This 'agreement' will formalise what has been, since 1999, a tacit understanding between the two governments that the Kazakhs would not allow such refugee movements.

Recently two Uygurs were executed by the Chinese after being repatriated from neighboring Kyrgystan despite the fact that the alleged crimes occurred on Kyrgyz soil (involving the death of a Chinese diplomat) and contravened United Nation's protocols forbidding the extradition of criminals to a country that is likely to invoke capital punishment.

This agreement between China and Kazakhstan seems to allow for similar instances to occur. All it will take now is for China to identify a person as being a terrorist for him to be repatriated from Kazakhstan to China and to an uncertain fate.

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:: Xinhuanet - English ::