Dozens of Uyghurs and other East Turkistanis, led by the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkistan National Movement (ETNM) gathered in front of the White House on Sunday to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the 1997 Ghulja Massacre and to urge the international community to act swiftly to end China’s ongoing genocide in Occupied East Turkistan.
On 5 February 1997, thousands of Uyghur men, women and children went out on the streets of Ghulja in northwest East Turkistan to protest peacefully. They demanded freedom of speech, religious and cultural freedom, as well as East Turkistan’s independence.
“The thousands of Uyghur and other Turkic protesters in Ghulja demanded an end to the racial discrimination they experienced daily, as well as an end to Chinese colonization and occupation of East Turkistan,” said Haider Jan, the Community Affairs Coordinator for the East Turkistan National Movement.
On 5 February 1997, the Chinese government and its occupation forces brutally suppressed the peaceful Ghulja demonstration, resulting in the deaths of over a hundred Uyghurs and the arrests of over 1,600 Uyghurs. By early 1999, the Chinese government had executed over 200 Uyghurs who had been arrested for participating in the 1997 Ghulja demonstration.
In the two decades since the Ghulja Massacre, China has intensified its colonization, genocide, and occupation efforts in East Turkistan. Millions of East Turkistanis, including Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tatars, were sent to concentration camps and prisons, where they were subjected to forced labor, forced starvation, forced medication, organ harvesting, rape, sterilization, and even execution.
The 26th anniversary of the Ghulja Massacre coincided with rising tensions between China and the United States after the United States shot a Chinese spy balloon that violated American airspace.
The East Turkistan Government in Exile’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Aziz Sulayman, praised the United States for shooting down the Chinese spy balloon and demonstrating that it will not tolerate China’s violations of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and international law. “The United States and other nations must never allow China’s violations of international law, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, including in East Turkistan, to go unpunished,” he added.
In addition, dozens of Uyghurs led by the East Turkistan Government in Exile and the Alberta Uyghur Cultural Society commemorated the 1997 Ghulja Massacre in front of the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton, Canada.
Vice President of the East Turkistan Government in Exile Abdulahat Nur stated, “we thank the Canadian Parliament for approving MP Sameer Zuberi’s motion to resettle 10,000 Uyghur and other refugees from East Turkistan.” He further stated that “We urge other countries to follow Canada’s example by granting asylum to Uyghurs and other Turkic refugees from East Turkistan.”
The protesters in front of the White House and the Alberta Legislature Building urged the United States, Canada, and the international community to intervene and act swiftly to end the ongoing genocide in East Turkistan and restore its freedom and independence.
President Ghulam Yaghma of the East Turkistan Government in Exile urged Canada and the United States to take a more proactive approach to resolving the Sino-East Turkistan conflict and ending the genocide by addressing its root causes. “We urge Canada, the United States, and other governments to recognize East Turkistan as an occupied country, like Tibet, and to aid East Turkistan and its people in ending China’s illegal occupation,” he added.
In addition, the East Turkistan Government in Exile announced that its 9th General Assembly would be held in Washington, D.C. from November 10 to 12, 2023.