Monday, August 11, 2008

Last Post

I met Rebiya Kadeer in October 2007 and started this blog soon after. I said I would continue this blog until the start of the Olympic Games - and here we are.

A lot of things have happenned in the intervening months. Detainees at Guantanomo Bay are being found innocent - after 7 years of incarceration - some of them have been Uighurs. China has been exposed for the paranoid nation it is. Tibet is on the lips of many more people. Uighur exiles are coming out of their silences and daring to communicate.

Some things have not changed in these months. Politicians in search of power have been responsible for the deaths of thousands. War is stupid. Rebiya has heard no news of her children. It is assumed that they are missing or dead. Confessions under torture remain a viable option for all -the UK included.

The world will not change on its own. It needs the young people to engage, but for as long as so many remain glued to their virtual worlds the risk is that they won't be looking in the right direction and the freedoms we do have will dissipate for want of precious youthful energy.

Our lives are stocked full of answers. Everything from a TV dinner to outright war is sold as a solution. What we need are questions.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bad News

Firstly I must convey my heartfelt condolences to the families of the Chinese policemen killed in Kashgar today. There is no excuse for violence. In so many ways it is counterproductive and serves to alientate people such as myself who have undertaken to support those in East Turkestan (Xinjiang Autonomous Region if you are Chinese) and the millions of Uighurs who in no way want their call for freedom to be answered with the death of others. It will also alientate the international friends who have supported Rebiya Kadeer in her quest to bring the plight of the Uighurs to the attention of world leaders. It certainly makes all our lives more difficult and it will not free Rebiyas children. Worse, it will lock them, and others like them, away for even longer.
It is fair to say that the Uighurs thoroughly dislike the Chinese. I think it is also fair to say that the Chinese government, by deliberately disenfrachising the original ethnic groups of the countries they have overrun, have more or less asked to be disliked. But violence breeds violence and there is no stopping it until all parties are too exhausted to continue and only then do they think to talk. Unfortunately the Chinese government is mired in outdated policy and strategy and thinks only to use force. Violence is wrong, but unsuprising.

When I was taking part in a demonstration in London earlier this year, I stopped to ask a Chinese gentleman why his group had paused for 2 minutes silence. He said that it was to remember the earthquake dead. I smiled at him, and before I had chance to offer my own sympathy, he turned on me saying ' Why do you laugh at us, why do you hate us so much.' I attempted to put the record straight, but he would have none of it. He was determined that I hated him. He was wrong. We are all in part victims of the propaganda put out by our various governments and react accordingly. Of course I do not hate the Chinese people, they are polite and charming. I do not hate anyone. I just campaign against repression.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Amazing isn't it? I try through all the usual channels to contact Uighurs and to establish a news route. Exasperated by the lack of response I create a Uighur group on Facebook and lo - in a matter of days I find 350! Admitedly not all of them are actual Uighurs, but the level of sympathy from other groups has heartened me. Many of those on my list do not show a photograph. Fear is rife. These people feel little safer here than in their own country.
Another Facebook friend, Craig Murray, who has previously published a book underlying human rights abuses in the name of the UK and the USA (particularly confessions extracted under torchure - again, in our name) is fighting to get his next book published. I recommend Murder in Samarkand as a first hand insight for all those who suspected that the British Government was no better than any other, but had so far not found the evidence.
The Olympic Games are almost upon us. Journalists say they do not have the promised free access to the internet. In particular Human Rights sites such as Amnesty International are blocked. A spokesman for the Chinese Government said that the Olympic Games would not be affected by journalists having access to these sites, and saw no reason why they should be available. Is there a Chinese word for 'context'?
Over 8,000 people a year suffer the death penalty in China. Thats the official figure. Then we have the Detention Without Trial scenario. As you can imagine, this last one has been very popular in the run up to the Games.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Uighurs shot dead on 9th July

Well, I asked for Uighur news and I got it. Needless to say it is not good. A party of fifteen Uighurs was raided by Chinese troops and 5 were shot dead. Those taken captive have confessed that they were plotting against China. I wonder, was that confession extracted under the a)' good cop/bad cop' scenario we have come to accept in our own country, or was it b)'Confess to x happening or I will dip your grandchildren in boiling water' type of scenario.
We will never know the truth. But we can know that is was not scenario a).
A Burmese friend stated that her facvourite torture was not the 'rolling an iron bar up and down your shins until the skin breaks down to the bone' type of thing. She should know. Another friend is not too keen on the 'hanging naked for days in below zero temperatures and having buckets of freezing water splashed over you' type of scenario. And he should know.
I tried to find a picture of torture for this post, but the ones I found were just too awful for me to contemplate. I can't even stand a picture of it.
Don't let torture go unchallenged whether it be Uigurs or Tibetans or anyone else. Our own government condones the use of confessions extracted under torture. Do the people? Stay silent and you are agreeing to torchure by default. So don't stay silent!

Monday, July 7, 2008

And another thing - Guantanamo

Guantanomo Bay is apparently no longer the US Base it used to be and I am getting fed up with the new rhetoric which goes out of its way to site the horrible Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre in Cuba.
I guess that the US are now trying to distance themselves from the whole sorry affair. But blaming it on Cuba just rubs salt into Cuban wounds. Guantanamo Bay is quite beautiful as you see from my picture above. But the Detention Centre is nothing to do with Cuba. The US have been allowed to keep this site in exchange for not bombing the living daylights out of this beleagured nation. Cubans do not even acknowledge the existance of the naval base - as I found out first hand.
I am feeling very cross today. The whole Cuban thing is annoying. Why do we force economic sanctions on Cuba? Can anyone remember why we prevent trade with Cuba? Oh, I do believe that we don't like the government because it upset out 'friends' in the US. Does anyone know why we don't use economic sanctions on Zimbabwe? Oh yes, because we say that sanctions hurt the people.

Thanks Patrick

Well, I've been away on a short break, but my friends have been on the ball. Patrick brought to my attention a massive piece of news:

In the first ruling of its kind, a US court has overturned the designation of an inmate at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as an "enemy combatant".

How could I have missed that?

Huzaifa Parhat is an ethnic Uighur from East Turkistan. He was rounded up by China after 9/11 when every misguided government thought 'whoopee' and incarcerated anyone with the wrong shaped beard because obviously they were terrorists. Unfortunately the poor bloke has not even heard this news because they have not let him out of solitary confinement. The judges have said he must be freed, transferred or be the subject of a fresh hearing. I suppose they will dither around indefinately, meanwhile it has just been the 7 years of wrongful imprisonment and misery. Hands up those who have been in solitary confinement. I have met only one person - Rebiya - and she hadn't done anything wrong either.

So this poor man (who is at worst a petty criminal) faces even more time in solitary confinement despite the fact that he poses no threat to our beloved friends in the US, and no-one says a word. Great. I so love the bloody human race.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Response from the BBC

Annoyed that there was no coverage by the BBC of the Uighur problems, I wrote to them suggesting that they cover the Olympic torch relay in Xinjiang, and, co-incidence or not, they have. They have also loaded up some lovely new pictures, two of which I have borrowed. One shows the ancient market in Urmuqi, a major city in the region. The other is a view of the modern city which lies on the ancient Silk Road.

The Chinese government has pulled yet another fast one and pushed the torch through the Uighur region a week early. People living on the route have been told to stay indoors, close their windows and doors, not look out of them and watch the proceedings on television! Being used to the type of punishment involved for not obeying orders, they did just this.

Urmuqi, although seemingly having many new buildings and roads, is apparently the most polluted city in China. The region is rich in minerals and fossil fuels. No doubt it is por in safety and environmental concerns. Who cares, they are only a minority ethnic group fighting for a place in their own land.