2009 – The Uyghur Human Rights Year in Review

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January 14, 2010 | Huffpost | By Henryk Szadziewski

2009 will be remembered as a watershed year for the Uyghur people of East Turkestan (a region known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the Chinese government). The event that defined not only the year, but also the foreseeable future for millions of Uyghurs was the serious unrest in the regional capital of Urumchi. The events beginning on July 5 and their repercussions underscored both the egregious human rights abuses that are endemic in East Turkestan, and the pressing need for meaningful and participatory solutions to the grievances of the Uyghur people. Notable incidents before the Urumchi unrest in 2009 merely illustrated the broad range of Uyghur human rights concerns, such as the demolition of Kashgar Old City, which were contributing factors to mounting tension that contextualize a serious outbreak of social disorder.

2009 began with an alarming January 4 report published in the Procuratorial Daily that arrests on state security charges in East Turkestan numbered 1,300 in 2008. Arrests on these charges in the entire People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 2007 only amounted to 742. The spike in arrests represented a concerted effort by Chinese officials, during the year of the Beijing Olympics, to crack down on the “three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and religious extremism,” an effort that was characterized by Xinjiang Party Secretary, Wang Lequan, as a “life or death struggle.”

Read the full op-ed here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/2009-the-uyghur-human-rig_b_423547