The below article was published by Insight Journal, photo credit: ETGE
PM Salih Hudayar is the Prime Minister of East Turkistan (Government-in-Exile) and the Founder of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement. He discusses: human rights; concentration camps and re-education camps; politically motivated racism.
*Interview conducted October 20, 2020.*
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With regards to human rights in some of the major human rights organizations in the world today, what has been some of their commentary? What has been some of the work that they have done in regards to these issues around the order of the Kazakhs and other Turks or people who have been locked up in those camps?
Salih Hudayar,: So many human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, have raised the issue to the human rights as a political one. From the human rights perspective, engaging in atrocity, I think the world and the ambassador need to call for sanctions. However, with sanctions, even the terminology that is used is very important, whether referring our people or referring to our country as Turkistan, a lot of these organizations like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, incorrectly refer to us as Chinese Muslims or Muslims in China, because we always – and other Turkic people, are Turkic people in that context because we don’t see ourselves as Chinese. We are not Chinese. We don’t have any cultural, historical, linguistic ties to China or the Chinese people.
So, that’s something that needs to be corrected. This is something that we have been pushing them to do. Another issue is the term “Chinese,” which they used to describe our homeland in a Chinese colonial term, meaning “territory” or the meaning “frontier.” It’s a humiliating term. Nobody refers to Tibet as “Chinese.” Nobody except China, like China renamed “Tibet” to “Tibet Autonomous Region,” nobody uses that term but China. But you see, most of the governments across the world and human rights organizations and media incorrectly referred to our country as “Chinese.” Therefore, in a way, supporting the Chinese narrative is supporting Chinese colonial efforts, we have been urging people to recognize or refer to our country as “Turkistan” because that’s what we call it.
And whether you look at historical map, if you pull up a map from a hundred years ago of China or surrounding areas or of Asia, you will clearly see that it’s written “East Turkistan.” We were an independent country up until December 22nd, 1949. We were known as the East Turkistan Republic. It was short lived and we lasted for about five years before the Chinese communists came. Previous to that, we had declared independence in 1933 as the Turkistan Republic, and that lasted six months into Soviet intervention. But before 1884, we were known as East Turkistan.
Jacobsen: I also want to focus on some of the terminology around some of the actions, human rights violations or abuses, that have been happening in these particular cases. So, the one that stands out probably for most people in a lay person’s perspective would be “concentration camps.” For those who make the association, they will make the association to the National Socialists in Germany in World War Two. What is the overlap here in terms of the terminology of “concentration camps “in Nazi Germany, in World War Two, and in the cases here of “genocide” ongoing in East Turkistan?
Hudayar: So, the overlap is that the purpose of why these people are being put in the. For example, the Nazis, they demonized the Jews and sent them to these concentration camps, like the same way the Chinese government is demonizing the Uyghurs and sending them to the concentration camps. The structure of the concentration camps, there is barbed wire fencing blocked by watchtowers. These are all things with high walls. In some cases, these things are prevalent. You can’t get out of it. You’re not formally charged with a crime. So, it’s not a prison, where you’re actually charged with a crime and being sent there. The only crime that you have is that your status as an Uyghur.
And just like under the Nazis, the only crime is that where you were, or in most cases you are, Jewish and, in some other cases, you were sympathetic to Jews or you were homosexuals or you were something else – enemies of the Nazis. Just the terminology that China uses, calling them “enemies of the people,” “enemies of the state and the people,” this is the way China portrays our people as we’re the enemy of China and its people. So, therefore, we have to be destroyed. We have to be, as one Chinese official stated, “eradicated.” To this day, they’re continuing to build more and more camps. The Chinese government claims that it’s for re-education; that we’re receiving political language education. The same thing that the Nazis did to reprogram them. Even the propaganda that they showed to the Western world during World War Two, what they said when people heard of these reports, the Nazis set up the stage camps to have the Jews working as in building, working in factories, looking like a productive member of the society, were happy and singing and dancing and playing sports.
And these concentration camps, the same thing that China has done with taking them to specific locations that they created purposely for propaganda purposes and literally having our people sing and dance and clap hands. While clapping their hands, they were saying, “If you’re happy… clap your hands,” in English; by using words like we’re just a bunch of circus monkeys, every time they put out these videos of dancing and clapping and singing and saying, “Hey, we are happy.” This is the same propaganda that the Nazis did as well to dissuade the world from to hide the atrocities that it was committing.
Jacobsen: If you have this case of more than a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Turkic people, basically, having to undergo these kind of actions and ‘re-education,’ in the concentration camps, it’s Chinese citizens on the other side or military personnel. This is a very explicit form of politically motivated racism.
Hudayar: Absolutely. For a long time, since 1954, the Chinese government, because initially when they took over our country, our top leaders including our president, defense minister, general, chief of staff, our secretariat, foreign minister, we don’t know if they actually died in a plane crash or if they were executed and then that was staged like a plane crash. But they were killed. Then the Chinese and the Soviets, they forced the remaining leaders to sign a five-year treaty, which the Chinese communists would help us develop and modernize our country and withdraw their forces. In 1954, when the five-year mark came, the Chinese government now set up the paramilitary, Xinjian Production and Construction Corps. A paramilitary force to colonize, to secure the borders and colonize East Turkistan.
But since then, they’ve been spreading this. They’ve been revising history, stating that East Turkistan has been a part of China since ancient times and that our people are a Chinese people who were invaded by foreign barbarians and brainwashed into thinking that we were different people. So historically, the Chinese have viewed us as barbarians. The way that they’ve been portraying it. Even the shooting of the Mulan, the story of Mulan in East Turkistan near a concentration camp, that’s not coincidental. If you look at the story compared to the original film and the film that was produced this year, you can see that it’s clearly targeting our people, the Uyghur as a bunch of barbarians, because the name of the guy.
The antagonist in the movie is Barbarian, who is called their leader: Bora Khan. Bora in our language means “wolf.” Khan means like “the king.” The king of wolves, historically, in ancient Chinese texts, we were referred to as the wolf people because that was our totem. In fact, that was our imperial flag, like it symbolizes us. So, it was targeting that. the fact that the antagonist in the movie Bora Khan he’s trying to get revenge because the Chinese they killed his father and they took over their lands. This is the political message in there that the American and the Western audience doesn’t get. But, the Chinese audience, they understand. They get the political message. So, it’s a deep rooted historical issue. It’s not something that just happened starting in 2017. This goes back to 1949, even beyond that.