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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.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

High Priests And A Sacrificial Lamb

Stalin's Foreign minister Molotov and Hitler pictured in 1940There is something rather chilling about seeing a picture of two leaders of highly repressive and oppressive regimes shaking hands and smiling, cherub like, to a camera. The ever present entourage of appreciative admirers, the national flags. It always reminds me of photos of Hitler and Mussolini or Hitler and Molotov, Stalin's foreign Minister.

Recently the Presidents of two modern totalitarian and oppressive regimes met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and had their picture taken. One a former Communist now heading up a corrupt and repressive regime rife with nepotism and the other a current communist with similar credentials.

What was on the agenda was the usual diplomatic topics of trade and bi-lateral relations but also and not surprisingly "terrorism".

President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and President Hu Jintao of China were caught just like this for the cameras at a joint press release recently as reported in the Xinua link..

Karimov a former Soviet shining light came to power over the newly independent Uzbekistan upon the demise of the former Soviet Union. Rather than seizing the opportunity to throw of the yoke of repression from around the neck of his newly independent country Karimov took what was a relatively benignly ruled country under the Soviets and turned it into a personal fiefdom where religious persecution is rife and human rights violations are aplenty; where political opposition or dissent is not tolerated and where like so many before him in the history of the world he has set up a nice little arrangement riddled with nepotism and cronyism.

Basking in the patronage of the United States as a "frontline fighter" in the war on terrorism Karimov, not unlike China, has used the guise of the ubiquitous and nebulous "War on Terror" to inflict his own brands of "state terror" on Uzbek religious, political opposition and minority groups to cement his position of power in Uzbekistan.

To hear then at the joint press release that these two have strengthened their already strong ties was something unsettling to say the least. But what was most concerning was their statement on the "war on terrorism". According to Xinhua the leaders stated that

The two countries agree that the crackdown on the terrorist force of "Eastern Turkistan" is a major part of the international anti-terrorism campaign.

"East Turkistan" terrorism is a "major part of the international anti-terrorism campaign"? Not for them obviously the likes of al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiya or any number of other dangerous international terrorist organisations but the little known and unidentified "Eastern Turkistan" terrorists!

"Eastern Turkistan" is the historic name for what is now called Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China's northwest and is home to some 9 million Uygurs a turkic Muslim people.

The Uygur people unknown to 98% of the world outside these two countries and central Asia, consider Han Chinese presence in their motherland as an "occupation" and have long held a desire to achieve "separation' though they have not backed this desire with any real concerted attempt to achieve same.

But despite almost non existent world knowledge of the Uygur or the "Uygur Question" or any real evidence of terrorist activities conducted by them these two shining lights of democracy, freedom and international peace and tranquility have specifically named the Uygur as a major threat to regional and world peace.

The ramifications are many not the least being that Uzbekistan has a considerable Uygur population that moved there either when the Soviets pulled out of Xinjiang in the early part of the 20th century and in doing so enticing a considerable number of Uygurs to follow suit or, more recently, to escape Chinese oppression.

Already these people are treated like pariahs by the Karimov government and such statements by these two leaders can only alienate and isolate them more and set them up for further oppression.

Karimov's motivation is all too clear. As a self serving sycophantic leader he panders to the great nations to help shore up his regime and to line his coffers.

The Chinese are more enigmatic however. Just as they appear to have an irrational precoccupation with, and even hatred for, Tibet's Dalai Lama so to do they have a manic obsession with the Uygurs and for all intents and purpose the non existent terrorist threat they pose.

But by keeping up this illusion of an Uygur terrorist threat they do at least keep their powder dry for when it may be needed to cover up some new crackdown or progrom against this hapless and blighted people .

:: Xinhuanet - English. Presidents press conference::

Keywords: China, Uzbekistan, Uygur (Uighur) terrorism, Tibet, Dalai Lama, Karimov, Hu Jintao.