WASHINGTON — Today, October 12, 2023, marks the deplorable 74th anniversary of China’s belligerent invasion of East Turkistan, a country that China subsequently renamed “Xinjiang,” which translates to ‘new territory’ or ‘colony’ in the Chinese language. The East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE) solemnly underscores the significance of this dark day in the ongoing struggle to restore freedom, justice and national sovereignty to East Turkistan and its people.
“China’s invasion was a brutal act of aggression that has led to decades of colonization, genocide, and occupation,” said ETGE Prime Minister Salih Hudayar. “The international community must address the root cause of China’s ongoing Uyghur genocide by recognizing East Turkistan as an Occupied Country like Tibet,” he added.
Just 11 days after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) proclaimed the establishment of the so-called “People’s Republic of China,” they executed a calculated and belligerent invasion of the sovereign nation of East Turkistan on October 12, 1949. This invasion was facilitated by the assassination of over 30 top political and senior military leaders of the East Turkistan Republic by the Soviet Union from late August to September 1949. Contrary to China’s deceptive narrative of a ‘peaceful liberation,’ the Chinese Communist invasion of East Turkistan was a ruthless act of aggression that killed over 120,000 East Turkistanis from the time of the Chinese invasion on October 12, 1949, until the end of 1952.
When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invaded East Turkistan on October 12, 1949, the East Turkistan Republic was an independent state. The East Turkistan Republic remained independent until December 22, 1949, when it was forcibly overthrown by the PLA. This invasion and subsequent occupation are clear violations of international law, as stated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“China’s occupation of East Turkistan is a blatant violation of international law and a moral outrage that tramples upon the fundamental rights of our people,” said President Ghulam Yaghma. “This is a dark stain on the conscience of the world, and the international community must rise to its ethical obligations to end this ongoing tragedy.”
Since the invasion, East Turkistan and its people have been subjected to a brutal campaign of colonization, assimilation, and occupation, escalating into genocide after 2014. This campaign includes the mass internment of over 3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Turkic peoples in concentration camps, prisons, and forced labor camps; the mass sterilization of Uyghur and other Turkic women; the destruction of over 16,000 cultural and religious sites; widespread surveillance; systematic rape of Uyghur and Turkic women; and the forced separation of over 880,000 Uyghur children from their families. These atrocities have been officially recognized as genocide and crimes against humanity by the U.S. government, more than a dozen Western parliaments, and the UN.
Due to a lack of international action and even complicity, China was shamelessly re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, despite its ongoing genocide in East Turkistan. The UN, international bodies, and governments must uphold their commitments to “Never Again” and address the humanitarian crisis in East Turkistan through their respective channels, including the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court.
“China’s recent re-election to the UN Human Rights Council is a grotesque mockery of the principles that the United Nations was founded upon,” said ETGE Vice President Abdulahat Nur. “This is not just a slap in the face to the people of East Turkistan; it’s a betrayal of human rights and global justice.”
The people of East Turkistan remain unyielding in their quest for independence, a struggle that is not just political but existential. The restoration of East Turkistan’s sovereignty is the only path to securing the freedom, human rights, and very survival of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples. Faced with China’s relentless genocide, the East Turkistan Government in Exile issues an urgent plea to the international community: confront the root cause—China’s illegal invasion and occupation of East Turkistan.
“Restoring independence for East Turkistan is not just a political aspiration; it is a matter of survival for our people,” said ETGE Strategic Advisor Dr. Mamtimin Ala. “We will never give up our struggle for freedom and independence for East Turkistan, as it is the only path to obtain justice and human dignity,” he further added.
The East Turkistan Government in Exile calls upon the international community to formally recognize East Turkistan as an occupied country, support East Turkistan’s case at the International Criminal Court, and take immediate steps to address the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the People’s Republic of China.