by Andre Vltchek, with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow
– First published 21 July 2019 – March of the Uyghurs –
Again, The West Tries to Destroy China, Using Religion and Terror
[Important note: The Uyghurs have managed to create a very old and deep culture. Most of them are good, law abiding citizens of the PRC. Also the great majority of followers of Sunni Islam are peaceful people. This work is addressing terrible problems related to extremism and terrorism, most of them crafted and then fueled by the West and its allies. Their goal is to damage China. The victims live in various countries.]
They are everywhere, where their Western, Gulf states and Turkish handlers want them to be.
Their combat as well as political cells and units are based in Syria and Indonesia, in Turkey and occasionally in Egypt.
When they are told to kill, they murder with unimaginable brutality; decapitating, or cutting to pieces priests, infants, old women.
They are China’s worst nightmare. They are unleashing religious fundamentalism and foreign-sponsored militant nationalism and separatism. They are potentially the greatest obstacle and danger to President’s Xi Jinping’s marvelous BRI (Belt and Road Initiative).
Both the West and Turkey are glorifying them; the most extremist of Uyghurs. They are financing and arming them. They are labelling them as victims. Uyghurs are now a new ‘secret weapon’, to be used against Beijing’s determined march forward, towards socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The West and its allies are doing all they can, to smear China (PRC), to derail its progressive course, and to arrest its increasingly positive and optimistic influence on all the corners of the world. They invent and then support/finance all imaginable and unimaginable adversaries of the Communist Party of China.
Religious sects are the favorite ‘weapon’ used against China by both North America and Europe. That is true about the extremists who belong to Tibetan Buddhism, concentrated around an agent and darling of the Western intelligence agencies, the Dalai Lama. Or yet another radical Buddhist/Taoist extremist sect – Falun Gong.
The West does everything in its power to destroy China. It was clearly detectable 30 years ago during the so-called Tiananmen Square Incident (an event supported by the West, and later twisted by Western mass media), as it has been obvious during two recent ‘rebellions’ in Hong Kong, fully sponsored by Western organizations (NGOs) and governments.
The latest chapter of the anti-Chinese attacks, conducted by the West, is perhaps the most dangerous, and the ‘best crafted’ multi-national onslaught against the interests of both China (PRC) and the developing world, particularly the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.
It is the so-called Uyghur issue.
Uyghurs live predominantly in the northwest of China. They were recognized as ‘native’ in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. They belong to one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities of China, and are predominantly of Muslim faith.
For decades, some Uyghurs fought for independence from China (before the Communist PRC was declared on October 1, 1949, there were at least two Uyghur independent states declared in the region, the one most known – the First East Turkestan Republic – with the help of the Soviet Union).
Since the formation of the PRC, China has offered equal rights and constantly improving standards of living to the Uyghur minority. However, several extremist Muslim factions have kept fighting, brutally, for a Turkic independent state. They have not been representing the majority of Uyghurs, but being against the PRC, have enjoyed moral and financial support from the West, its allies in Gulf states, and from Turkey.
Dr. Gaye Christofferson, wrote in September 2002, in her work “Constituting the Uyghur in U.S.-China Relations: The Geopolitics of Identity Formation in the War on Terrorism” how divisive the actions of the Uyghurs were on the territory of the PRC:
“Uyghur separatists and independence movements claim that the region is not a part of China, but that the Second East Turkestan Republic was illegally incorporated by the PRC in 1949 and has since been under Chinese occupation. Uyghur identity remains fragmented, as some support a Pan-Islamic vision, exemplified by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, while others support a Pan-Turkic vision, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Organization. A third group would like a “Uyghurstan” state, such as the East Turkestan independence movement. As a result, “[n]o Uyghur or East Turkestan group speaks for all Uyghurs, although it might claim to”, and Uyghurs in each of these camps have committed violence against other Uyghurs who they think are too assimilated to Chinese or Russian society or are not religious enough.”
This was before the big propaganda push from the West; during the years when even Western academia was still relatively free to assess the situation in Xinjiang.
But soon after, the North American and European policy changed and radicalized.
In the West, the Uyghur issue was designated as ‘central’ and ‘essential’ to achieve three main goals:
To smear and humiliate China, portraying it as a country that ‘violates human rights’, ‘religious rights’ and the rights of minorities.
Uyghurs were literally inserted by NATO countries, including Turkey, into several violent combat zones: in Syria, Afghanistan and Indonesia, to name just a few, with one sole purpose:
to train and to harden its fighters, who could be later deployed as de-stabilizing factors in China, Russia and former Soviet Central Asian Republics.
To sabotage great infrastructural projects, particularly the BRI.
BRI is the brainchild of China’s President Xi Jinping. Highspeed rail links, highways and other infrastructural arteries would be going through Xingjian, towards east.
If brutal terrorist attacks backed by the West and its Islamist allies, and perpetrated by the Uyghur terrorists, would shake the region, the entire project which has been created in order to help to improve life for the entire humanity, (by wrestling various poor and developing countries from deadly Western neo-colonialist embrace), could be jeopardized, even collapse.
But what is really happening?
For several years, I investigated this ‘issue’; in China and Syria, in Turkey, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Indonesia.
It is because I consider it to be one of the most important and one of the most dangerous issues our planet is now facing.
I was able to trace patterns, and to find roots. What I discovered is disturbing and threatening. For China and for the world.
The “March of Uyghurs” is backed by “useful idiots”, all over the Western world, but also in Turkey, and elsewhere. They want to “defend victims”, but in this case, the ‘victims’ are actually ‘victimizers’ and usurpers.
Here I am putting my findings (and the findings of other colleagues and comrades) on the record. I do it so no one who is searching for truth would be able to say now or in ten years: “I did not know”, or “The information has not been available.”
Before we begin, let me point out how enormous the hypocrisy of the West is: The TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party, which is the militant wing of the Uyghur’s separatist Turkistan Islamic Movement (TIM)), has been designated as a terrorist organization by China.
But not by China alone; also, by the European Union. Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Pakistan! The terrorists supported by the West and at least by part of its public, is designated as a terrorist organization by London, Brussels and Washington.
Using Western logic, it is obviously quite acceptable to train terrorists in Syria or Indonesia, for the horrible mass killing of Chinese people, but it is not acceptable to have them operate on the territory of European Union, or the United States.
The frontal Western attack against China and its actions in Xingjian began in 2018.
Propaganda salvos were fired long before, but the ‘semi-official’ beginning of the ideological combat came in August 2018, when Reuters published a story with the title “UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” It went like this:
“GENEVA (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights panel said on Friday that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China are held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.”
Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and Muslim minorities were forced into “political camps for indoctrination” in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.
“We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone’,” she told the start of a two-day regular review of China’s record, including Hong Kong and Macao.
China has said that Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions between the mostly Muslim Uighur minority who call the region home and the ethnic Han Chinese majority.”
F. William Engdahl, lashed at the Reuters report on pages of New Eastern Outlook:
“In August Reuters published an article under the headline, “UN says it has credible reports that China holds million Uighurs in secret camps.” A closer look at the article reveals no official UN policy statement, but rather a quote from one American member of an independent committee that does not speak for the UN, a member with no background in China. The source of the claim it turns out is a UN independent advisory NGO called Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The sole person making the charge, American committee member Gay McDougall, stated she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports.” McDougall cited no source for the dramatic charge.
Reuters in their article boosts its claim by citing a murky Washington DC based NGO, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD). In an excellent background investigation, researchers at the Grayzone Project found that the CHRD gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from unnamed governments. The notorious US government NGO, National Endowment for Democracy, is high on the list of usual suspects. Notably, the CHRD official address is that of the Human Rights Watch which gets funds also from the Soros foundation.”
This is how the new chapter of anti-Chinese ideological attacks (and attempts to stop them) began.
And soon, they intensified. The Western propaganda apparatus unleashed dozens of articles, which, while claiming that China has been building several detention centers for Uyghurs in Xingjian, failed to provide any proof that extreme harsh measures were being applied against the religious and political extremists in Northwest China.
The most amateurish, speculation-based one, was printed on June 1, 2019, by The Telegraph (“China’s Uighur Muslims forced to eat and drink as Ramadan celebrations banned”):
“Beijing has long sought to arrest control of this resource-rich region where decades of government-encouraged migration of the Han – China’s ethnic majority – have fuelled resentment among Uighurs. The biggest outburst erupted in 2009 in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, resulting in 200 deaths.
Now, the ruling Communist Party has launched a propaganda campaign about snuffing out “criminal” and “terrorist” activity. All across Xinjiang – meaning “new frontier” – are bright red banners reminding people to fight illegal, “cult” behaviour, listing hotlines to report suspicious activity.
“Love the Party, love the country,” hangs a streamer at one mosque, just above the metal detector. A highway billboard proclaims, “Secretary Xi is linked heart-to-heart with Xinjiang minorities,” referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
The government is working to present an image of a happy, peaceful Xinjiang, in efforts to boost tourism and attract investment; this is the linchpin for Mr. Xi’s Belt and Road initiative.”
Many thinkers, however, have been bravely putting this kind of ‘reporting’ into context. My close friend and co-author of our book “China and Ecological Civilization”, a leading U.S. philosopher and progressive theologian, John Cobb Jr., has many years of involvement in China. He wrote for this reportage:
“A standard tactic of the U.S. government is to create situations in which another government has little choice but to use violence. Its use of violence is then treated as proof that “regime-change” is needed. Sometimes it even justifies war. The Iranians shooting down an American spy drone, for example, almost led to an overt American attack on Iran. China has been placed in such a situation with regard to one of its Islamic minorities. There is real danger that the Uighurs will use violence against China.
China thus far has responded by an effort at massive, compulsory re-education which can be depicted as forcing citizens to spend much of their time in “concentration camps.” That the minority is Islamic is then used in American propaganda to imply that China persecutes religion. Propaganda can also create anti-Chinese feeling among religious people all over the world, and especially among Muslims both in China and elsewhere.
If we think that anything that weakens those who refuse American domination is good, then we can admire the skill of the CIA. If we care for truth and justice, our task is to bring to light the cruelty and injustice of the subversion and the lies.”
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ‘fell in love’ with Uyghurs when he served as the mayor of the country’s largest city – Istanbul. He erected a monument to them, and declared that the Turkish nation had roots in “Turkestan”.
He allowed hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs to migrate to Turkey.
Being a NATO-member country and at least in the past, one of the closest allies of the United States, Turkey readily helped the West with its colorful anti-Chinese campaign.
But that was not all. Far from it. NATO nations and their ultra-religious allies in the Gulf, decided to overthrow the Arab-socialist government in Damascus, Syria. Turkey readily participated in the ‘project’ from the very beginning, sacrificing its historic ties with the Assad family.
As early as in 2012, I investigated, with the help of the Turkish translator of my books, the so-called refugee camps in the border area of Hatay (with its ancient capital of Antakya). While several camps were truly serving as refugee centers, others like Apaydin, were training Syrian terrorists, as well as foreign jihadi fighters.
In those days, Serkan Koc, a leading Turkish left-wing documentary filmmaker, who has produced several groundbreaking works on the subject of the “Syrian opposition”, explained to me in Istanbul:
“Of course, you do realize that those people are not really ‘Syrian opposition.’ They are modern-day legionnaires collected from various Arab countries, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, paid by Western imperialist powers. Some are members of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Most are militant Sunni Muslims. One could describe them as rogue elements hired to fight the Assad government.”
With help of the Mr. Koc’s contacts in Hatay, I managed to establish, as early as in 2012 and 2013, that some of the ‘legionnaires’ were actually Uyghurs. I also received confirmation that they were being smuggled from the Hatay area ‘camps’ directly into Syria, fully armed and equipped.
Terrorists were also trained at the NATO air force facility ‘Incerlik’, near the city of Adana. Exactly how many Uyghurs went through that air base, has so far not been established.
On the Syrian war front, the toughest, the most brutal and the most dangerous assassins in the presently terrorist-controlled area of Idlib, are Uyghurs. But this fact will be addressed in the following chapter of this report.
In Istanbul, I teamed-up with my colleague and comrade, Erkin Oncan, a leading Turkish journalist and thinker, who presently works for Sputnik. For years, he has been reporting on the movement of the Uyghurs.
Together, we visited the Zeitinburnu neighborhood on the outskirts of Istanbul, where we met Erkin’s colleagues, who took us on a ‘tour’ of significant Uyghur ‘landmarks’, including the office where Uyghurs have been recruited, allowed to work semi-legally, and then, many of them, sent to Syria and Iraq.
There are approximately 50,000 Uyghurs living in Turkey (10 million live in China and all over the world). Zeitinburnu, has the greatest concentration of Uyghurs in the country. Here they own businesses, restaurants. Old people enjoy a relaxed life, drinking tea and leading endless conversations in public places.
But this tranquil mood is only a façade. Here is where many Uyghurs arrive. From here, they get injected abroad, where they learn their deadly ‘trade’, how to become hardened and merciless fighters. They go to Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or as far as Indonesia.
As early as on April 9, 2015, BGNNews.com in Istanbul, reported:
“The network is based out of Zeytinburnu, a district on Istanbul’s European side which is home to a community of Uighurs who live in Turkey. It is headed by Nurali T, a businessman who has been facilitating the movement of Uighurs from China to Syria and Iraq via Turkey since 2011. He is known by his code name Abbas. An individual who works for him, AG, says that a total of 100,000 fake Turkish passports have been produced, 50,000 of which have been shipped to China to be handed to fighters recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)”.
According to the article Uighurs are joining the fight, traveling from China through Thailand and Cambodia before reaching Malaysia, which has no visa requirements with Turkey. A fee of USD 200 is taken from the recruits.
The fighters then spend a night in Istanbul in motels, hotels or safe-house apartments before heading to Turkey’s Southeast and East the next day to cross into Syria and Iraq.
The individuals carrying fake passports are often caught at the airport in Istanbul. As to why they have been able to enter Turkey and not get deported, AG says, “Turkey has secret dealings with the Uighurs. The authorities first confiscate the passports but then release the individuals.”
Erkin and his friend talk about the present situation in Turkey. And about what Uyghurs are expected to achieve:
“Members of TIP – Turkistan Islamic Party – are repeatedly saying that ‘in Syria we are training for jihad, and we will go back to China, and fight.”
The question is, how would Uyghur fighters be moved back to China; from both Turkey, but especially from Syria?
“My theory is, that China is on high alert, and if the fighters would be sent first from Syria to Turkey, and then to China, it could be done only if the ID’s were changed and falsified. Because China has names, it has lists, and it has information. If Turkey decides to secretly change their ID’s, and sends them to China, it could be possible, but, as you said yourself earlier, the Afghan route is also possible. The IS fighters are also gathering there, the TIP is gathering there, in Afghanistan; some parts of the Western Afghanistan tip, which is not far from the border with China.
I think that TIP will try to go directly to China, but most of the attempts will fail. They will attack from Afghanistan. As you know, Russia recently declared that the IS has formed a new caliphate in Afghanistan, which would fortify the jihadi climate in the country. Turkey will try to send a number of Uyghur fighters there, although I don’t know how many.
I also think that Turkey will try to divide Uyghurs into two groups. You know that Uyghurs always travel with their families. Sending them anywhere with the families is very hard. But sending fighters first, and then ‘deporting’ the families, is another thing. Deporting the families could be done under ‘humanitarian cover’. So, I think, the fighters will go first, secretly, and then, families will be deported.”
But where would the families be ‘deported’ to? To China?
“Yes, because in Izmir and Hatay, Uyghurs are taken care of by the Turkish government. There are always, exclusively, women and children, but no men.”
On June 2019, I went back to both Hatay and Izmir, just to confirm what I was told in Zeitinburnu.
But before that, we traveled to Aksaray in Istanbul; to one of the notorious Uyghur restaurants, owned by an AKP member. Uyghurs are managing the place. It is the place where separatist leaders meet, regularly; every month, or at least every second month. The former boss of this place was arrested on charges of human trafficking. My colleagues explain: “We have no idea what charges, exactly, or what happened to him? If he was still in prison, we would definitely know.”
The Police HQ is very close to this eatery, which I do not want to identify by name, at least not for this report; not yet. Paradoxically, some members of the police force who are supposed to be tracking down human trafficking, regularly gather here. So too, naïve Chinese tourists in search of good spicy Chinese food from the Northwest of their country.
I am told:
“According to my source here, police once spotted a human trafficking cell here, but did nothing… Police is actually controlling these cells, even giving new names to those who are supposed to be sent to Syria. Police is in charge, and the government officials actually know who is going to Syria, name by name. Some profits from this, and from other restaurants like this one, are going directly to the Uyghur separatist association.”
Actually, there are many restaurants like this, but this one is the HQ for the Istanbul area. It tries to stay humble, not flashy, with hardly any signs in Arabic.”
I am also explained to:
“All of our sources confirm the same: ‘Police and the state/government know everything, and they make sure to control the action.”
Governing and mainly right-wing nationalist and pro-Western opposition parties in Turkey are all supporting the Uyghurs. The Opposition even more than the ruling AKP, so there is very little chance that the policy will get reversed anytime soon.
Most of the Turkish media outlets echo Western sources, and are openly hostile towards China.
However, the government does not want to antagonize China, openly. It has some cooperation, at least when it comes to the tracking of criminal activities.
One thing has changed, I was told by Abdulkadir Yapcan, who covers legal issues related to Uyghurs:
“If China provides IDs and names, Turkey will investigate and press charges. If China fails to provide detailed information, Turkey will do absolutely nothing. This is at least some change, since 2016. Although, so far, there was only one case…”
Uyghurs have gone violent, even in Turkey, on several occasions. The most documented ones were an attack against the Thai consulate in Istanbul in 2015, and an attack on a nightclub in Zeitinburnu, in which 39 people lost their lives, mainly Turkish and Saudi citizens.
On the outskirts of Kabul and Jalalabad in Afghanistan, I regularly encounter people who are escaping from the increasing presence of ISIS in various parts of the country. Some are now forced to live in the camps for internally displaced people, like that in Bagrami, just on the outskirts of the capital.
My sources in the country are speaking clearly about the movement of the jihadi cadres (mostly ISIS) from Syria to Afghanistan. Among them are, as expected, Uyghurs.
These individuals arrive after being fully trained. They are battle-ready, indoctrinated and extremely brutal, even by the standards of Afghanistan; a country which has been battered by civil wars and invasions.
The proximity of Afghanistan to China, with which it has a short border in the east, but also to the former Soviet Central Asian Republics (Afghanistan has borders with Turkmenistan Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), is making it an ideal group to be used for subversion against China, Russia and the Central Asian republics.
It is essential to understand, that China’s BRI is designed to connect China with the entire world, using several infrastructural corridors, some of which would be following the old Silk Roads, passing through Central Asia, cutting through Iran, Pakistan but also Afghanistan. The city of Urumqi, and Xingjian Province generally, will be some of the most important hubs. Those in the West who want to disrupt this, perhaps, the most important global project, are strategically using Uyghur separatists, terrorists and religious fanatics, to bring uncertainty, even chaos, to this part of the world.
Several top al-Qaeda members such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, and Mustafa Setmariam Nasar ─ who had met Uyghurs in Afghanistan where they trained as mujahidin ─ have expressed personal support to their cause’. The Uyghurs East Turkestan independence movement was also personally endorsed in the serial “Islamic Spring’s 9th release” by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the chief of Al-Qaeda.
It is also important to recall that during the Battle of Kunduz in Afghanistan (in 2015), foreign Islamist militants joined both Taliban and ISIS, in an assault on the city. Among them were Uyghur as well as Chechen, Rohingya, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Uzbek.
TIP is fighting in Syria and elsewhere, but the organization’s leadership is based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but with most of its members operating illegally on the territory of People’s Republic of China.
“First: we had to switch off our brains, in order to survive. What was happening was far from ‘normal’. It was horror. It is almost impossible to describe…”
Uyghurs are encouraged to murder, and they are trained and hardened in Syria.
A lady, a mother of three, is sitting on the porch of her temporary home, in the Syrian city of As Suqaylabiyah. She slowly recounts the horrors she had to live through, before escaping from her village in the Idlib area:
“The terrorists who committed mass murder in my town, are Uyghurs. My cousins and other relatives, were killed. By Uyghurs; yes, by them. In April, 2014. They were shot. We stood against them, trying to defend ourselves. Then they began killing us, first in the fight, then in revenge. After that, they cut off heads of those they murdered.”
“Were they the most brutal of the terrorists,” I asked.
“Yes. From north to south, from east to west of Idlib province. They are monstrous. They are under the command, under control of Nusra Front. They kidnap soldiers, and kill them brutally. They kill entire families and kill them in a way I cannot even describe. The easiest death is when they shoot and then behead you. They are like monsters.”
She knows. She escaped them by a miracle:
“I still remember; I fled with what was left of my family, at 4am. Uyghurs were killing, and so were Indonesians; totally brainwashed, mad. You know, my family consists of teachers; teachers of Arabic language. I have 3 children. They were not going to spare anyone…”
I met Ms. Noora Al Khadour and 17 years old daughter, Naia, from the Kafer Nboudah village:
“We are terribly scared of Uyghurs; of their crimes. I don’t even want to remember what has happened. Although I know that I have to speak to you; to people like you… in order to stop all that madness. You know, I had to flee with my four children, on a motorbike, like in some crazy movie…”
She tries to find words, how to begin:
“First: we had to switch off our brains, in order to survive. What was happening was far from ‘normal’. It was horror. It is almost impossible to describe… I am just a simple woman. They entered our town and began beheading. Shooting… Their faces; their expressions – your heart stops thinking about them. I am so lucky that during that night I did not lose any family members, because we escaped almost immediately.”
I ask, whether Uyghurs and their TIP are using narcotics, when they attack villages. My question triggers a huge discussion.
“Definitely,” Ms. Noora replied. “They could not act like this, if they were in a ‘normal’ state.”
My friend, Anas, who is accompanying me, chips in:
“My friend from the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) told me that the pockets of the jackets of the terrorists are always full of drugs. Uyghurs are using captagon.”
Soldiers standing by, confirm that whenever a terrorist is captured, his pockets are full of ‘combat drugs’.
I am wondering, in horror, what would a well-trained platoon of TIP terrorists do if it were to overrun a village in China. In the two last decades, Uyghur separatists carried out hundreds of terrorist attacks in China, killing countless people. But they never held an entire village anywhere in the PRC.
In As Suqaylabiyah I sit across a table from the commander of NDF (National Defense Force), Nabel Al-Abdallah. We speak Russian. He takes me; drives me, to the frontline, all the way to the edge, where Al Nusra positions are clearly visible. Then he invites me back, to this beautiful part of Syria, when “all this madness is over”.
Back at his command center, he explains:
“We are not afraid of Uyghurs, but we are taking their threat very seriously. Look, inside the Idlib area which is controlled by them, terrorism ‘grows’. If, after improving his combat skills here, a fighter returns to China, it would represent a tremendous danger. Uyghurs are the worst fighters; the toughest fighters. And right in front of us – Idlib – is the world capital of terror. It is a laboratory of terrorism. There are terrorists from all over the world. There, Uyghurs are learning the deadliest trades.”
He pauses, offers me aromatic Syrian tea. Then continues with his thoughts:
“Uyghur terrorists are targeting our people. They are brutalizing them. If we do not have solutions, soon, terrorists will damage the entire world. Our problem is not just Uyghurs and ISIS, not only TIP or Nusra. Our problem is the ideology which they represent. They use Islam, they commit barbarity in the name of Islam, but all this is backed by the United States and the West. The Syrian Army and National Defense Forces are sacrificing their soldiers for the world, not just for this country.”
There are conflicting reports, as for how many Uyghurs fighters are still inside Syria. The generally accepted number is around 2,000, but that includes families.
Commander Nabel clarified:
“400 to 500 fighters are now in Idlib area. And all international terrorists based in Idlib are under Al-Nusra Front command. They are supported by Qatar, United States, Saudis, and Turkey. Officers of the U.S. intelligence are there – inside my country. There are Turkish observation points, Turkish military forces.”
Again, I am being driven along the front line. I visited several Syrian positions and towns, including As Suqaylabiyah. It is still war here, around Idlib – real, tough war. Mortars are exploding not far from us, and landmines are being discovered and defused in the vicinity. People are dying; they still are.
Near Muhradah, at the Mahardah Power Station which was recently liberated by the SAA, soldiers discovered several charred bodies. I was told, they were most likely “Asian” terrorists. But were they Indonesians or Uyghurs, nobody could tell.
The leader of the National Syrian Defense in Muhradah, clarified:
“Uyghurs are tough fighters. They are under Al-Nusra front. They are very evasive, operating under different names. They are all there – inside – in Idlib. When Idlib falls, they will fall together with it.”
I am shown maps.
Most likely, when all this is over, the Uyghurs will be “moved” elsewhere. Back to Turkey, to Afghanistan, or, if nothing is done to stop them, back to China.
A Syrian analyst who does not want to be identified, wrote for this essay:
“Danger of Uyghurs operating in Syria is multi-faceted:
“First of all, they can form no part of any integral solution, because they do not belong to Syria. One way or the other, their presence is harmful; dividing the country. The latest information about their deployment here is clearly showing that they are intentionally being used by Turkey, in order to prevent the SAA from regaining control over Idlib. Back in 2016, the SAA tried to infiltrate the territory all the way to Jisr ash-Shugur, in Idlib, from Latakia countryside. But all military actions failed, due to the might of the TIP (Turkistan Islamic Party) which is operating in the area. It is good to mention here that the TIP spearheaded the attacks on all SAA posts in Jisr ash-Shugur and committed massacres there.
The second issue is: a direct threat to the Chinese interests in the region. with intimidations being spread online and posted via the accounts linked to “Malhama Tactical” (The group, founded by a pseudonymous Uzbek jihadist called Abu Rofiq, operating in Syria, supporting anti-government terrorist forces* note of the author). There is also great danger of the Uyghurs returning back to China and recruiting hundreds of youth extremist, separatist fighters, who could then decide to initiate attacks against the PRC.
For the reasons mentioned above, China has to be involved in all the efforts to neutralize such threats. And the world has to understand its defensive actions.
Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, has been, since the 1965 US and UK backed right-wing military coup, a staunch ally of the West.
Communism and atheism are banned there, and the most extreme and grotesque forms of capitalism are practiced all over the archipelago. Racism in Indonesia is fabled; the country has committed three genocides since 1965, including the on-going one in the occupied West Papua.
The Chinese minority was always the target of countless pogroms and discrimination. This began in the era of Dutch colonialism, and continues until now.
On top of it, most of the Indonesian Muslims are practicing the increasingly intolerant, radical Sunni Wahhabi Islam, with roots in Saudi Arabia (Wahhabism was developed with the substantial help of the British imperialists).
Right-wing, religious, pro-business Indonesia has generally seen China (PRC) as an enemy. Right after the 1965 coup, tens of thousands of Chinese people were murdered in cold blood, hundreds of thousands were enslaved, countless women gang-raped, millions forced to change names, abandon their native language, character and culture. Many elements in the Indonesian regime and apparatus have enthusiastically joined the West in its new crusade to destabilize Beijing and its internationalist vision for the world.
The Uyghurs have become the perfect tool for the anti-Beijing combat. According to Pak Wawan from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia (not his real name), some Uyghurs began commuting from China to Turkey and eventually Syria with the fake Turkish passports, as early as one decade ago. This bewildered some Indonesian immigration officers, at the main international airport in Jakarta. But the ‘confusion’ was soon clarified, and the Uyghurs were allowed to proceed; to continue on their deadly march.
Pak Wawan told me more, during our encounter in the West Javanese city of Bandung:
“There were ‘friendships’ forged between the Uyghurs and local, Indonesian, Islamist radicals. Some Indonesian people even travelled to Urumqi. Connections have been forged, and eventually many travelled to Indonesia, for ideological work, fundraising and combat training. These contacts and links go way back to the times when both sides were based in Mecca, Medina, Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. The visa regime between the two countries (Indonesia and China) is relatively lax, and so, people from TIP have been able to enter Indonesia hassle free. Once here, most of them became imams, but others went on to join camps and get training as jihadi fighters, particularly in the middle of the Island of Sulawesi.”
Pak Wawan continues:
“These people have a huge network. They also have networks in Thailand and Malaysia. Recently, they deported them from Pattaya, Thailand. Most of their cadres had studied at various religious universities, mostly in the Saudi Arabia, or at least somewhere in the Middle East.
When they come to Indonesia, they carry with them a book of propaganda, as well as videos, with the aim of boiling mistrust and hate towards China. Among other things, the book says that the Chinese people are: kafir (“ingratitude” (toward God)), and that they are najis (dirty). The book is calling for the banning (again) of all symbols of Chinese culture.”
It is a tremendously racist, violent book. Similar texts have been distributed in Indonesia against Shi’a Muslims, with the predictable help of Saudi Arabia.
According to Pak Wawan:
“In Indonesia, it is estimated that there are some 200 Uyghur students, with the main purpose, to work as ustads/imams (religious clerics), and to infiltrate the system. Some are simply trapped here. Some of them are involved in subversive activities, together with the members of the Indonesian jihadists. Their goal is to go back to Syria, and eventually to China.”
In the restive island of Sulawesi, there are expected to be several Uyghur fighters, still on the loose, although four of them were caught, tried and sentenced to lengthy terms in prison (in 2015), for joining the radical terrorist group Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT or East Indonesia Mujahedeen) with its leader Santoso aka Pakde aka Abu Wardah. The Santoso group has already pledged allegiance to ISIS under the leadership of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
The imprisonment of 4 Uyghurs in Indonesia in 2015, could be interpreted as a change of course by Jokowi’s administration. The same as Turkey, Indonesia has been the victim of deadly terrorist attacks, and begins to see the Wahhabi jihadi cadres as a danger. Also, the attitude towards China is starting to change, as least in the recent years. China is seen as a partner, mainly when it comes to investment into the collapsing Indonesian infrastructure.
But it is still a confusing situation.
Some Uyghurs are arriving, lately via the International airport in Manado, Sulawesi. Others are travelling by boat, from the Muslim part of the Philippines.
What is significant is that the delegations from two major Indonesian Muslim organizations – NU (Nahdlatul Ulama – the largest independent Muslim organization in the world) and Muhammadiyah – were invited to Urumqi in China, shown around, and at the end declared publicly, that there is no oppression of the Muslims in China.
It became clear that those who were continuing to spread anti-Chinese rumors in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia, were financed and supported from abroad.
Rossie Indira, an Indonesian writer and publisher, who has been helping with this report, visited several radical groups in Java, as well as the leading politicians, who flatly refused to smear China on behalf of the West.
Of course, the hardened Islamist organizations never changed their tune. Mr. Atip Latiful Hayat, Chairman of the Expert Council of ANNAS Indonesia (Anti-Shia National Alliance), spoke to Ms. Rossie Indira about ‘human rights’ and the oppression of Muslims by the PRC. ANNAS Indonesia openly declared that “Balikpapan Muslims will support both morally and materially any strive for the liberation of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province of China.”
Mr. Okta, from the program department of ACT, an NGO from West Java, which used to be heavily involved in collecting money and goods for the Uyghurs, declared that the issue is not their priority, anymore.
Dina Suleiman, a legendary Indonesian academic and writer, who regularly defends both Syria and Iran, stated for this report:
“ACT published its yearly report, but we could not find details on where all the money went. They only published that a certain amount was donated to countries outside Indonesia, but no details. An accountant friend of mine looked into their published reports and said that they (ACT) used all kinds of terminology to validate using the percentage of donations for their own needs. He told me that it could be that up to 60% of the donations were used for their own needs.”
A typical case of endemic Indonesian corruption? In this case: good. Better if money gets stolen, than if it was to reach Uyghur extremists!
Mr. Inas N. Zubir, the Chairman of the Hanura Faction in the House of Representatives is part of the faction in the Indonesian political system, that is openly questioning what is behind the smearing of the Chinese government in connection with the Uyghur ‘issue’. He spoke to Ms. Rossie Indira, recently, for this report:
“Indonesian people have to be careful when they hear about the problems related to Uyghur Muslims, because the news about the alleged discriminatory treatment by the Chinese government that has been lately circulating, only came from the international media and a number of western NGOs. Meanwhile, a number of western countries were later found to have less harmonious relations with China.”
“The Central Committee of Muhammadiyah (by its Chairman, Haedar Nasir) met with the Chinese Muslim Association (Vice President of the association: Abdullah Amin Jin Rubin) in September 2018. Abdullah Amin Jin Rubin had denied the above allegations. He stated that Muslims in China as a whole, including Uighurs, had the same freedom and received good treatment from the government. The proof is: in Xinjiang, where the Uighurs are located, there are 28,000 mosques and more than 30,000 imams to lead prayers. Even in Xinjiang, the government participates in supporting the establishment of Islamic College. So, the religious life of Muslims is good.”
“I suspected that the issue of discriminatory treatment of Uighur Muslims was deliberately raised by certain parties in the country to discredit Joko Widodo’s government. I think the opposition intentionally portrays Joko Widodo’s government as a government that does not care about the suffering of Uighur Muslims.”
Several jihadi cells in the Philippines and Malaysia are also pledging support to the Uyghur extremists.
During the year 2017, the jihadi cadres (mainly ISIS) attacked and overran the city of Marawi, on Mindanao Island, Philippines. What followed was a prolonged battle between the military and the terrorists. I was told by the army commanders that among the dead militants, there were several “foreign fighters”. Some were Indonesians, others came from Malaysia. It was indicated to me that there were ‘others’, particularly from China, although there was no concrete confirmation about the Uyghurs.
And what is it that the Chinese media, and the Chinese people have to say on the subject? Naturally, it is not easy to find much of non-Western voices, in the propagandist anti-Chinese cacophony carried by outlets such as Yahoo News or Google.
As early as in 2013, China Daily published an article by Li Xiaoshuang named “Western media’s coverage on Xinjiang worthless”. It passionately expressed what the North American and European mass media has been trying to silence, for over a decade:
“The Western media has become the propaganda machine for the Uyghur separatists.
As a Xinjiang native, I am outraged by the false reports in Western press about what has happened in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region during the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting for Muslims all over the world…
Citing just a Uyghur activist as the only news source, the reports accuse Chinese authorities of banning Muslims from fasting and praying in mosques, coupled with biased commentary that the Chinese government is suppressing Uyghur ethnic groups and transferring huge numbers of Han Chinese into Xinjiang to dilute the Uyghur culture.
Without first-hand accounts, not mentioning repeated clarifications from the Xinjiang government, how dare these media outlets be so irresponsible? How can the world learn the whole truth?
It reminds me of the riot in the region on June 26, leaving 27 people dead. It was definitely a massacre, but some Western media, as they have done so before, described the attacks as part of an ethnic conflict. They portray terrorists who betray their religion by killing innocent people as “heroes”, seeking religious or political freedom…”
On March 20, 2019, Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi of Global Times reported with much more urgency:
“Misleading headlines, groundless accusations, obscure interviewees, double standards are not hard to spot in many articles covering China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western media outlets.
Recent months have seen an intensive outburst of such reports which have tainted China’s anti-terrorism efforts in the region by adopting tactics including using words with a negative connotation, providing incomplete information and stirring readers’ emotions.”
It is not often mentioned in the West, but there are some 20 million Muslims living in China. According to the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), there are more than 21 million Muslims in the country. According to SARA there are approximately 36,000 Islamic places of worship, more than 45,000 imams, and 10 Islamic schools in the country. In China, Islam has some interesting nuances: for instance, there are mosques led by female imams, there. All over China, halal food is available, and actually very popular. Many people show great interest in Muslim culture, at least theoretically.
During my 2018 visit to the Chinese city of Xian, I was impressed by the great effort the Chinese government has been making, to support Muslim culture in this historical center of multi-culturalism, from which, centuries ago, the legendary Silk Road had been initiating. Islamic civilization, its music, food, centers of worship and architecture are now the greatest magnet, bringing tens of millions of visitors from all over China.
I clearly saw that there was no discrimination in Xiang. My conclusions were the same as those of the emissaries of two Muslim mass movements of Indonesia, who were allowed to visit Xinjiang. We found no brutal treatment of the Muslim and their religion in China.
It often appears to me, and to other experts on China, that the Chinese people and even the Chinese government, do not know how to defend themselves against the vicious and totally unfair attacks against their country; attacks which are coming from abroad.
China “wants peace”. It is offering friendship. But it is insulted, constantly attacked and humiliated in return.
The truth is obvious: The West does not desire peace. It does not care about justice. It never did. It only wants to control. For as long as China is doing well; better than the West; for as long as its political and social system are becoming more and more popular, all over the world, and particularly in developing countries, Washington, Paris, London, Berlin, but also Tokyo, will never stop, attacking and provoking Beijing.
In order to prosper, and even in order to survive, the Chinese Dragon will have to fight. Only a defeated, humiliated and conquered China would be ‘accepted’ by the West. A China which respects itself and helps others, will be attacked and brutalized by the West.
The great Chinese poet, Su Shi (1037-1101) once wrote: “The scenery varies when people watch from close or far, or from different sides.” What he meant was that Mount Lushan will not show its true features just because we are right in the mountains.
The same could be written about politics. Just because one lives in China, it does not guarantee that he or she would be able to fully understand the viciousness and determination of the anti-Chinese attacks, which are conducted by the foreign adversaries. Also he or she would not necessarily realize why they are being conducted.
The attacks against China are not only of an economic or military nature. Religions are some of the mightiest weapons of the China’s foes. Be it radical Buddhism, evangelical Protestant Christianity, or, as now, radical Islam.
China has to defend itself, by all means. Extremist Uyghurs are marching. Many of them are brutal, and extremely dangerous. They have already murdered thousands of innocent people, in various countries. Their goal is to break the integrity of China and its great internationalist projects. They are determined, well-funded, and thoroughly selfish. Their desire for ‘independence’ has been ignited and financed by foreign powers.
The plan of the extremist Uyghurs is simple: to perfect terrorist and extremist tactics, and combat skills abroad, then return to China and begin spreading the nightmare at home.
The West is readily “helping” to fuel their deadly march. China’s Ecological Civilization, the end of poverty in the most populous country on earth, and BRI, are seen as a danger to Western supremacy, at least in places such as Washington, London and Brussels.
China has all the right to defend itself. It has a full obligation to do so.
It is the duty of thinkers from all over the world to tell the truth. If they stay silent, or if they sell their dignity for money and privileges, as so many in the West are doing right now, they will be condemned by future generations.
Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”