The below statement is attributed to President Ghulam O. Yaghma
Eighty Eight years ago on this day, on November 12, 1933, East Turkistan achieved its long and arduous journey of restoring its independence, guided by Abdukadir Abdulwaris Damolla’s message of anti-colonialism, reform, modernization, and national awakening. Since November 12, 1933, the people of East Turkistan have been celebrating this day, November 12, every year as East Turkistan’s national independence day.
The modern history of East Turkistan has been mostly turbulent and tragic. East Turkistan is located on the eastern side of historic Greater Turkistan, divided by the Pamir Plateau following the Russian conquest of Central Asia in the 19th century. The Czar Russians invaded the western portion of Turkistan and occupied it, and the Manchu empire invaded and occupied East Turkistan. Since the initial occupation of East Turkistan by the Manchus and later by the Chinese, the people of East Turkistan have resolutely refused to submit to foreign occupation and colonial rule. They have proclaimed their independence three times in the past 157 years.
Today, on November 12, the East Turkistani people worldwide are celebrating the declaration of independence of the two modern East Turkistan Republics established in the 20th century. The history of modern East Turkistan Republics begins with the anti-colonial national awakening movement initiated by Abdukadir Abdulwaris Damolla. Although Abdukadir Abdulwaris Damolla was assassinated in 1924, his vision lived on through his students. The rebellion erupted in 1931 in Qumul, which led to an anti-colonial revolution that swiftly spread throughout East Turkistan, growing into a war of national liberation. It overthrew the colonial-occupation government structures, and it rapidly spread into Kashgar and Khotan in East Turkistan’s south.
At this time, inspired by this revolution and its victories, the people of the Khotan rose against Chinese colonial occupation, seized political power of the entire Khotan region, and established a new independent government. Under Amir Sahip Nurmuhammed’s leadership, a section of the newly formed Khotan army headed towards Kashgar. Mr. Sabit Abdulbaqi, commonly known as Sabit Damolla, the modernist visionary and founding father of the first East Turkistan Republic, was amongst them.
Upon arrival in Kashgar, Mr. Sabit Damolla met with the influential figures of the city, to whom he explained his vision of ending Chinese occupation and re-establishing an independent modern Turkic state. With the support of patriotic entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and students from the Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek people of East Turkistan, he initially established the East Turkistan Independence Association. After which, he initiated the groundwork of establishing the modern East Turkistan state. At the time, the situation in Kashgar was quite complicated in that several independent factions co-existed delicately on the brink of a civil war. With his knowledge, wisdom, visionary ideas, and exceptional oratory skills, he united the various Turkic peoples of East Turkistan, who held different opinions and intentions towards proclaiming independence as a unitary, pluralistic and modern state on November 12, 1932.
On the day, November 12, 1933, tens of thousands of people, from all walks of life, old and young alike, in Kashgar gathered along the banks of the Tumen River. After the firing of the 36-gun salute, the Salvation March written by Memet Eli Tewfiq was introduced as the national anthem of the new Republic and was sung. It was followed by a speech by Prime Minister Sabit Damolla Abdulbaqi, who proclaimed the official establishment of the East Turkistan Republic. The East Turkic Republic was the first modern constitutional independent state in our history that officially defined our national flag, national emblem, and national anthem for good as the reminders of this unforgettable day.
Despite the lack of sufficient financial, human, and military resources, within a short period, Prime Minister Sabit Damolla was able to unite the conflicting sides and calm down those unwilling to reconcile and convince them to work together to run this modern state. As a result, this new Republic quickly established its national postal service, printed and issued currency, issued passports, and formed a national army. For a state, which tragically only managed to survive for five months, all this was nothing but a miracle. Establishing such a state without any foreign support or interference and without becoming a satellite state of any foreign state was an extraordinary political victory achieved by the great sacrifices made by the East Turkistani people and the outstanding leadership of East Turkistan’s leaders guided by Abdukadir Damolla’s anti-colonial national awakening and the principles of statehood applied by Prime Minister Sabit Abdulbaqi, his cabinet, and our National Assembly (Parliament).
Although the first East Turkistan Republic was short-lived, being overthrown on April 16, 1934, due to Soviet and Chinese invasion, it left the most crucial evidence, symbols, and visions for our continued struggle to regain our national independence. It renewed our efforts to re-establish our independence and sovereignty. It put patriotism at the center of our life. As a result, it inspired our people to rise once more in 1944. The determination to re-establish our sovereign state came to the fore, and the second national liberation movement took a strong foothold in the northern part of East Turkistan.
The armed national liberation movement in 1944 put an end to Chinese occupation and colonial rule in the three northwestern provinces of East Turkistan. The national liberation movement succeeded in quickly liberating Ghulja on November 7, 1944. However, the leaders of the second East Turkistan national liberation movement and the people of East Turkistan decided to wait until November 12, 1944, to re-declare East Turkistan’s independence in honor of the first East Turkistan Republic and the spirit of its founding fathers and martyrs. Thus, the second East Turkistan Republic was the successor and continuation of the First East Turkistan Republic.
The second national liberation movement was more widespread and organized in that it mobilized all of the native nationalities of East Turkistan. The second East Turkistan Republic had at its height a national military force consisting of an army and airforce with a combined 60,000 military personnel, trained in modern warfare and equipped with modern weapons. The various native nationalities of East Turkistan came together to fight against their common enemy, the Chinese occupation forces, which is evident in the fact that there existed three Mongol battalions in the East Turkistan national army.
Sadly, after World War II, East Turkistan became a victim of redistributing national territories, political realms, and influences by the Great Powers of that time. As such, it was shamelessly sold out to China by the former Soviet Union. The East Turkistan Republic’s leadership was assassinated in late 1949 in a tragic event that historians describe as a “mysterious plane crash,” East Turkistan was invaded by the then People’s Republic of China, and our sovereign state was invaded forcibly overthrown on December 22, 1949.
However, the national pride, excitement, and relentless hope that the two modern East Turkistan Republics have given us are still in the depths of our hearts. The blood of our martyrs is still flowing in our veins. Despite the ongoing genocide and colonization, our people’s determination to restore our national sovereignty and re-establish our independent state is strengthening more than ever. Every year when we commemorate this day, the spirit of the martyrs encourages us to move forward and never give up nor bow to our enemy in our fight for our nation’s independence.
I want to wish once again all of my fellow East Turkistanis – Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tatars, and Mongols, a Happy National Independence Day! May God Almighty grant us swift liberation so that we may celebrate our independence day together in our homeland near future.
Long Live East Turkistan!