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Posts tagged ‘Islamic Emirate of East Turkestan’

Uighur minority fighting in Syria says exiled leader

2017-02-13

MUNICH – An exiled advocate for China’s ethnic Uighur minority said Monday that some of the group were fighting and dying in Syria — including for Islamic State (IS) — though she claimed they had been duped into doing so.

Rebiya Kadeer, who heads the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said that among the thousands of Uighurs who have fled to Southeast Asia, Turkey and elsewhere in recent years, a small number have ended up in the war-torn Middle Eastern country and have joined militant groups.

“Some Uighurs… died after Russian airplanes bombed them, they were killed in Syria,” she said at a press conference during a visit to Japan.

Russia’s militarily backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, which erupted in 2011 and has left more than 300,000 people dead. Numerous groups, including IS, are fighting for control of the country.

The mostly Muslim Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and number some 10 million, are native to the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang bordering Central Asia and have long complained of religious and cultural discrimination.

China has frequently warned that radical forces from outside have inspired terror attacks in Xinjiang as well as in other regions of the country and has launched a harsh crackdown.

It says among Uighurs who have fled are some seeking to train with extremists in Syria to eventually return and fight for independence in Xinjiang.

In 2015, China’s security ministry said more than 100 Uighurs that were repatriated by Thailand had been on their way to Turkey, Syria or Iraq “to join jihad”.

Once a wealthy and prominent businesswoman, Kadeer, now 70, fell out with the Chinese government and was jailed before her 2005 release into exile in the United States where she serves as president of the WUC.

She said Uighurs who end up in Syria are vulnerable and prone to being “brainwashed” into joining the fighting there, but still denounced them.

“We think they are just like criminal groups in our society,” she said.

The WUC describes itself as a “peaceful opposition movement against Chinese occupation of East Turkestan” — their name for Xinjiang.

It says it promotes “human rights, religious freedom, and democracy” for Uighurs and advocates “peaceful, nonviolent, and democratic means to determine their political future”.

But China has blamed the WUC, as well as the shadowy East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), of radicalizing Uighurs and fomenting violence and independence.

Overseas experts, however, have expressed skepticism, with some accusing China of exaggerating the Uighur threat to justify a tough security regime in resource-rich Xinjiang.

Human Rights groups argue that harsh police tactics and government campaigns against Muslim religious practices, such as the wearing of veils, have fueled Uighur violence.

China says it has boosted economic development in Xinjiang and upholds minority and religious rights for all of the country’s 56 ethnic groups.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81423.

Turkey takes in Uighur refugees; angers China

AUG 2, 2015

REUTERS

ISTANBUL/BEIJING – The folded piece of paper with a photo of a 4-month-old baby tells a story that likely loomed over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Chinese hosts during his visit to Beijing last week.

Baby Arife is a Uighur, one of thousands of members of China’s Turkic language-speaking Muslim ethnic minority who have reached Turkey, mostly since last year, infuriating Beijing, which accuses Ankara of helping its citizens flee unlawfully.

Turkish officials deny playing any direct role in assisting the flight. But the document, labeled “Republic of Turkey Emergency Alien’s Travel Document” suggests otherwise.

Arife’s mother, Summeye, 35, says she was given it, along with documents for herself and her three other children, by a diplomat at the Turkish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which she reached after a nine day journey transported by people smugglers through Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.

The document, valid only for travel to Turkey, lists the baby’s place of birth as Turpan, a city in China’s western Xinjiang region. Under “nationality,” it says “East Turkestan,” the name Uighur activists and their Turkish supporters give for their Chinese-ruled homeland.

Other Uighurs in Istanbul said they too reached Turkey last year through a similar route, hiring people-smugglers to escape China and receiving travel documents on the way.

The issue is an uncomfortable one for Ankara, which says it is open to valid asylum claims by victims of repression who reach its territory, but denies acting abroad to assist the exodus of Uighurs that surged last year. Representatives of Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said they were not immediately able to comment on the temporary travel document.

Tong Bishan, a senior Chinese police officer helping to lead Beijing’s efforts to get Uighurs returned, said the issue of Turkey providing travel documents at embassies in southeast Asia has been raised “at high levels.”

“The general attitude of the Turkish government has been not bad,” he told reporters last month. “But what we have seen is that employees at Turkish embassies have been providing help.”

Uighurs fleeing China say they are escaping repression by the Chinese authorities.

“They don’t allow us to live as Muslims,” said another Uighur refugee, also named Sumeyye, who fled to Turkey last October with her three children and lives in the basement of a working-class housing block in Istanbul.

“You can’t pray. You can’t keep more than one Koran at home. You can’t teach Islam to your children. You can’t fast and you can’t go to Hajj. When you’re deprived of your whole identity, what’s the point?” she said, speaking through a translator and covered from head to toe in a chador.

Nationalist Turks regard the Uighurs as ethnic kin in peril and believe their government should do more to help them.

Earlier last month, when Thailand’s military rulers, under pressure from Beijing, forcibly deported nearly 100 Uighurs back to China, protests erupted in Turkey. The Thai consulate in Istanbul was stormed. There were reports of attacks on Chinese restaurants and east Asian tourists. A Chinese orchestra cancelled a concert.

In an apparent bid to placate Beijing, Erdogan said the unrest might have been aimed at damaging his trip, when he plans to raise the Uighurs’ plight.

On Wednesday, Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to strengthen cooperation in fighting terrorism and people smuggling, a senior Chinese diplomat said.

“Security and law enforcement cooperation is an important area for the two countries and both have agreed to strengthen cooperation,” Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Ming told reporters, after Xi and Erdogan met in Beijing.

Neither leader mentioned the issue while speaking before reporters.

China denies it represses the Uighurs and says their freedom of religion is respected. It accuses a group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) of waging an increasingly violent campaign for an independent state in Xinjiang and says it is recruiting followers to train in the Middle East.

“A lot of these people are victims. We don’t want to see them going to Turkey to become cannon fodder, to become new recruits for the terrorists,” said Tong, the Chinese police chief.

Uighurs themselves acknowledge that some members of their community have crossed from Turkey to fight alongside Islamic State militants in Syria, but say this is a small minority.

“These militants lure them, saying they will help them train for the Uighur cause, they will give them weapons and they will support them against China,” Uighur refugee Adil Abdulgaffar, 49, said in his apartment in Istanbul’s working-class Sefakoy district, next to a bookshelf filled with Muslim prayer books.

“I’ve known of people who have gone off to Syria from Turkey with hopes that these promises will come true. But I also know that they very much regret it and would like to come back,” he said. “Our brothers who have been battling for their existence for the past 50 to 60 years are longing for guns. They are also very naive, and open to being tricked.”

About 1,000 Uighurs are housed in a gated complex once used by the Turkish finance ministry in the conservative city of Kayseri in central Turkey, guarded by police.

The apartments, spread across around 10, five-story blocks, are spacious but sparsely furnished. Two large flags hang from one of the top floors, one the red Turkish flag, the other the blue flag of East Turkestan. One apartment is used as a Koranic school for young boys.

Many of the residents told stories of persecution in China and arduous journeys out, paying smugglers thousands of dollars to evade onerous travel restrictions imposed by Beijing.

“For these traffickers, Uighurs mean money, Uighurs mean cash. If you are Vietnamese … they charge $1,000, but when you are Uighur the price goes up five-fold, sometimes ten-fold,” said 54-year old Erkin Huseyin.

He said he had left Xinjiang in early 2014 after being told his brother, sick and imprisoned without trial since 1998, would not be allowed to see a doctor and would not leave jail alive.

“We were born into a life of oppression,” said another refugee, Omar Abdulgaffar, 44. “Our parents have gone through this and I thought… why should my children go through it too? So we escaped.”

Source: Japan Times.

Link: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/02/world/turkey-takes-uighur-refugees-angers-china/.

Activists slam Thailand’s repatriation of Uighurs to China

July 09, 2015

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand sent back to China more than 100 ethnic Uighur refugees on Thursday, drawing harsh criticism from the U.N. refugee agency and human rights groups over concerns that they face persecution by the Chinese government.

Protesters in Turkey, which accepted an earlier batch of Uighur refugees from Thailand, ransacked the Thai Consulate in Istanbul overnight. Police in the capital, Ankara, used pepper spray to push back a group of Uighur protesters who tried to break through a barricade outside the Chinese Embassy.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned Thailand, saying the deportation violated international humanitarian laws and came despite “numerous initiatives” by Turkey to prevent their repatriation. It said Turkey will continue to monitor their fate.

Thai deputy government spokesman Maj. Gen. Verachon Sukhonthapatipak said Thailand had assurances from Chinese authorities about the safety of 109 Uighurs. However, in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China would take action against those suspected of breaking the law.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said that as a third country, the matter was not Thailand’s problem, and that the place they were sent to — he did not name China — would take care of it according to its justice system.

“I’m asking if we don’t do it this way, then how would we do it?” he said. “Or do you want us to keep them for ages until they have children for three generations?” The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it was “shocked” and considered Thailand’s action “a flagrant violation of international law.”

The Uighur group had been in Thailand for over a year, along with others who had fled China and claimed to be Turkish, Verachon said. Thai authorities sought to verify their nationalities before relocating them, he said.

“We found that about 170 of them were Turkish, so they were recently sent to Turkey,” he said. “And about 100 were Chinese, so they were sent to China as of this morning, under the agreement that their safety is guaranteed according to humanitarian principles.” He denied reports from Uighur activists that the refugees resisted deportation and some had been hurt.

Two witnesses who saw the Uighurs being led into trucks to be driven to Bangkok’s military airport said the men were handcuffed and some of women were crying and shouted, “Help us! Don’t allow them to send us back to China.”

Bilal Degirmenci and a colleague from the Turkish humanitarian group Cansuyu said they were forced by police to delete photos and video they had taken of the Uighurs, and were threatened with punishment if any were published or posted on the Internet.

The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority in China’s far western Xinjiang region. The group has complained of cultural and religious suppression as well as economic marginalization under Chinese rule.

The U.N. agency said it repeatedly brought up the matter of the Uighur refugees with the Thai government, and “in response, the agency was given assurances that the matter would be handled in accordance with international legal standards, and that the group would continue to receive protection.”

Such deportations violate the right to protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution, said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s assistant high commissioner for protection, said in a statement.

China’s position is that the Uighurs left the country illegally. Beijing has accused Uighur separatists of terrorism in Xinjiang, where ethnic violence has left hundreds of people dead over the past two years.

“China’s relevant departments will bring those who are suspected of committing serious crimes to justice according to law,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua told reporters. “As for those who are not suspected of committing crimes or who commit lesser offences, we will find proper ways to deal with them.”

In Turkey, which has cultural ties to the Uighurs and agreed to take in the other 170 refugees despite China’s objections, mostly Uighur protesters vandalized the Thai Consulate in Istanbul. The office was closed on Thursday.

Police allowed about 100 protesters to pray outside the consulate before taking nine of them away for questioning. The Thai Embassy issued a statement urging its nationals in Turkey to be on alert. The World Uyghur Congress, a German-based advocacy group, said those repatriated could face criminal charges and harsh punishment, possibly execution, under China’s opaque legal system — the reasons they fled China in the first place.

“The extradition is a dirty political deal between the Thai and Chinese authorities,” spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in a statement.

Associated Press writers Didi Tang in Beijing and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Al-Qaeda Calls for Caliphate in China’s Xinjiang

By Joshua Philipp, Epoch Times

October 26, 2014

A new recruiting magazine for al-Qaeda has a two-page spread that lists China’s abuses of Uyghurs in its far-west region of Xinjiang, which the Uyghurs call East Turkestan.

The magazine, “Resurgence,” was just launched by al-Qaeda’s propaganda branch, al-Sahab media organization. The inforgraphic appears in its first edition.

The infographic features “10 Facts” about Xinjiang. It says the region “remained independent of China for more than 1800 years” yet for the last 237 years it has been “under Chinese occupation at various intervals.”

It continues, noting that after the Chinese Communist Party took over the region in 1949, more than 4.5 million Muslims were killed by the Chinese regime. It claims the regime has burned close to 30,700 Muslim religious texts, turned 28,000 mosques into bars, turned 18,000 mudrassas into warehouses, and executed more than 120,000 Muslim scholars and imams.

The list of China’s crimes against the Uighurs could go on for some time, including its nuclear weapons tests close to populated areas and its often violent suppression of the Uyghur people.

The magazine stops short of calling for attacks on China, but does claim in a different section that Islamic uprisings will bring “bitter defeat for America, Iran, Russia, China and all those who have fought this war by proxy against Muslims.”

It also states that if the Sykes-Picot Agreement is abolished, people in Pakistan, Xinjiang, and other Muslim countries will be able to live under the Islamic Caliphate. The Sykes-Picot Agreement was passed in 1916 and divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

The magazine is the first English-language magazine from al-Qaeda central, according to The Diplomat. It appears to pull influence from “Inspire” which is a similar English-language magazine published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Both magazines seem to share a similar goal, which is to recruit lone-wolf terrorists to launch their own attacks.

The articles focusing on China could be part of al-Qaeda’s attempts to regain some authority, as attention has shifted towards ISIL, also called ISIS or the Islamic State.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, called for revenge against several countries including China in July 2014, and his speech made the rounds in the news in early August, according to Foreign Policy.

Baghdadi allegedly said “Muslim rights are forcibly seized in China, India, Palestine.” Chinese media were also circulating a map with unconfirmed origins, which allegedly shows countries ISIL plans to conquer over the next five years. It includes Xinjiang.

As Foreign Policy notes, threats against China from terrorist groups “may constitute a welcome opening for Chinese authorities.” The Chinese regime may, it says, use the threats to help legitimize its suppression of Muslims in Xinjiang.

“In any case, Beijing is likely alarmed by IS’s criticism of its treatment of the Muslim Uyghurs and the group’s alleged plan to seize Xinjiang, no matter how far-fetched the idea might be,” states Foreign Policy. “But just how actively authorities will deal with any [ISIL] threat remains to be seen.”

Source: The Epoch Times.

Link: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1043863-al-qaeda-calls-for-caliphate-in-chinas-xinjiang/.

Uighur scholar in China to appeal life sentence

September 24, 2014

BEIJING (AP) — A prominent scholar who championed China’s Uighur minority plans to appeal his conviction and life sentence, citing what he calls his improper detention and the authorities’ refusal to give his lawyers copies of evidence.

Ilham Tohti has denied prosecutors’ charges that he encouraged separatism while speaking and writing about the discontent in his native western region of Xinjiang. A court in the regional capital of Urumqi sentenced him to life in prison on Tuesday and ordered the confiscation of his possessions.

One of Ilham Tohti’s lawyers, Li Fangping, said his legal team had not decided yet when to submit the appeal. He said Ilham Tohti himself could do that from the court in Urumqi. Li released the first page of the 15-page document Wednesday. It cited several legal issues, including what it said was the failure of police to tell Ilham Tohti why he was being detained and the extracting of testimony after he went without proper food in jail for weeks.

On Wednesday, Li also posted on his WeChat social media account messages that he said were from Ilham Tohti to his wife and family. “My wife, for our children, you have to be strong, do not cry!” one message read. “In not too long, we will embrace.”

Another message asked his family to tell his mother that he had received only a five-year sentence. One of his students, Pahati, was pounding the door and moaning in the next cell, the message said, and he had heard the sound of ankle cuffs, raising the possibility that the student too had been sentenced. Still, the message said Ilham Tohti had slept more soundly that night than he had in eight months, since he was arrested in January.

“I never realized I had such a strong heart,” the message read. Ilham Tohti’s harsh sentence was the most severe in a decade handed down in China for illegal political speech and drew condemnation from the U.S. and the European Union.

President Barack Obama cited the scholar Tuesday among several people worldwide whom rights groups call political prisoners. “They deserve to be free,” Obama said. “They ought to be released.” When asked about the U.S. comments in a news briefing Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said some countries “made irresponsible remarks and brought up irrational requests in the name of so-called democracy and human rights, which were a harsh and unreasonable intervention over China’s internal affairs and sovereignty.”

She said China urged those countries to abandon “double standards and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.” The official Xinhua News Agency also criticized a Twitter message posted by Chinese writer Wang Lixiong that China had created in Ilham Tohti “a Uighur Mandela,” referring to late South African leader Nelson Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years before becoming president.

Xinhua said the analogy “displays not only a dangerous ignorance of history, but also a challenge to China’s determination to keep its 56 ethnic groups united.” Xinhua cited ethnic violence that has caused the deaths of both Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Xinjiang. It said Ilham Tohti used his online writings “to encourage his fellow Uygurs to use violence,” an accusation the scholar has denied in court and in interviews.

“Their accusations against the court’s ruling came as the warplanes of the United States and its allies bomb the ‘Islamic State’ militants in their anti-terrorism war,” the editorial read. “It is only because of Western countries’ double-standards on terrorism that a criminal was hailed as a hero.”

AP videojournalist Isolda Morillo contributed to this report.

Lawyer: Uighur scholar in China gets life sentence

September 23, 2014

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court imposed a life sentence Tuesday on a moderate scholar who championed the country’s Uighur minority, the most severe penalty in a decade for anyone in China convicted of illegal political speech.

The Urumqi People’s Intermediate Court handed down the sentence after convicting Ilham Tohti of separatism in a two-day trial, lawyer Li Fangping said by telephone from outside the courthouse. The court didn’t answer calls seeking information about the trial.

Li said the court also ordered the confiscation of all of Ilham Tohti’s possessions. The 44-year-old defendant was calm during the session but shouted “I don’t accept this!” when the sentence was read, Li said.

He is known as a moderate voice with ties to both the country’s Han Chinese establishment and the Muslim Uighur ethnic group, which has long complained of harsh treatment by the government in the far western Xinjiang region. A Communist Party member and professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, Ilham Tohti ran a website, Uighur Online, that highlighted issues affecting the ethnic group. Chinese authorities detained the scholar in January along with seven of his students.

“Of course, this life sentence is too much,” Li said. “But he has said that no matter what the result, this should not lead to hatred. He has always said he wants to create a dialogue with the Han Chinese.”

The life sentence will leave Ilham Tohti’s wife, Guzulnur, with no means to take care of their two young children, Li said. The court ruled that Ilham Tohti had “bewitched and coerced” students into working for the website and had “built a criminal syndicate,” according to the government’s official Xinhua News Agency.

“Tohti organized this group to write, edit, translate and reprint articles seeking Xinjiang’s separation from China,” Xinhua said. “Through online instigation, Tohti encouraged his fellow Uygurs to use violence.”

During the trial, prosecutors cited Ilham Tohti’s lectures and online writings, including his discussion of the different roots of the Han Chinese and Uighur peoples. Speaking in his own defense Thursday, Iham Tohti denied that he had encouraged separatism while addressing Xinjiang’s cultural and legal challenges, Li said.

Human rights activists said the harsh sentence demonstrated the government’s intolerance of criticism from even the most conciliatory of voices. Political activist Wang Bingzhang was the last person to receive a life sentence for political speech when he was convicted in 2003 after starting a pro-democracy publication outside China and founding two opposition parties in the country.

“Ilham Tohti worked to peacefully build bridges between ethnic communities and for that he has been punished through politically motivated charges,” William Nee, a China researcher at human rights group Amnesty International, said in an emailed statement. “Tohti is a prisoner of conscience and the Chinese authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him.”

Chinese writer Wang Lixiong said on Twitter that the government had created a “Chinese Mandela,” referring to South African leader Nelson Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years before becoming president. Columbia University Tibet specialist Robert Barnett called the sentence “deeply shocking.”

Tensions have run high and flared into violence in Xinjiang, where many of China’s Uighurs live. Authorities said several explosions killed two people on Sunday in central Xinjiang but did not say who carried out the attacks.

In May, 43 people died when Uighur militants plowed two vehicles through a market street in the regional capital of Urumqi and hurled explosives, police said. Ilham Tohti’s 20-year-old daughter, Jewher Ilham, said Tuesday in Indiana, where she is studying, that she will continue to fight for her father’s release. Her father was arrested in January 2013 at Beijing’s main airport as he was boarding a plane to take her to school in the United States.

“He wanted me to stay in a land that has freedom,” she said. “I’m speaking out for him. I won’t stop.”

Associated Press writer Didi Tang and video journalists Isolda Morillo and Helene Franchineau contributed to this report.

Uighur entrepreneur confronts prejudice in China

Beijing (AFP)

Aug 28, 2014

Ambitious and apolitical, self-described “good Uighur” entrepreneur Abdulhabir Muhammad initially conceals his proud ethnic identity from his Chinese clients.

“After I solve everything I will tell them, ‘Hey, I’m a Uighur, I’m from Xinjiang,'” he says, reveling in their astonishment even while poignantly aware of the prejudice it implies.

Violence is escalating in and beyond Xinjiang, the mostly Muslim Uighurs’ homeland, blamed by the government on separatist “terrorists” — with the executions of eight announced at the weekend.

In the rest of China Uighurs are generally stereotyped as happy ethnic dancers, curbside kebab-sellers or, increasingly, Islamist militants.

By contrast Abdulhabir — the 24-year-old chief operating officer of an educational consulting company, and a Muslim who prays at a mosque every Friday — epitomizes the authorities’ preferred vision of Xinjiang’s future.

“I’m very happy to work in Beijing to show a lot of people that Uighurs are great people and we can do big things,” he says.

His father was a poor wheat farmer who rose to own a chain of supermarkets in the region, and Abdulhabir has come further still.

Aged 15, he was accepted into a Beijing high school where he mastered Chinese and English, and then earned a degree in accounting from Binghamton University in New York state, followed by an MBA in entrepreneurship.

Now his company, which helps Chinese study abroad, has around 20 employees, 15 of them Han, China’s dominant ethnic majority, and his business partner is a Manchu woman.

Telegenic and confident, Abdulhabir has been featured in state media along with other young business people as positive examples of Uighur identity.

“You know the reason I’m in the media is because I am a good Uighur,” he says. “And I want other Uighurs to see me as a good Uighur as well.”

– ‘Panic-stricken’ –

Michael Clarke, an authority on Xinjiang at the Griffith Asia Institute in Australia, said there has long been an “accommodated majority” of Uighurs in the region willing to accept Beijing’s rule as the government poured resources into development.

Now, though, that majority risks being eroded not just through “militant extremism, but also more broadly from the continuing pressures from state policy across a range of issues”, he says.

Rights groups and analysts accuse China’s government of cultural and religious repression against Uighurs — such as discouraging veils for women and beards for men, as well as limits on fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — fuelling the unrest.

A clash in the Yarkand area in late July left nearly 100 people dead, state media reported.

The government-appointed imam of the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar, China’s largest, was stabbed to death and one of his alleged killers, a 19-year-old Uighur, was shown on state television this week confessing he had targeted him for “distorting religion”.

“Local pro-China elements are panic-stricken,” Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exile World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said in an e-mail after the murder.

Amid the cycle of violence, Chinese state media announced Sunday that eight people had been executed for “terrorist attacks”, including three it described as “masterminding” a shocking suicide car crash in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in October 2013.

– No guarantees –

Abdulhabir said that Uighurs should channel their energy into education, and avoid politics.

“I hate politics,” he says. “And that’s why our family are doing well, because we are far away from politics.”

But a good education is no guarantee of success for Uighurs in China, and even those who find acceptance can end up in trouble.

Rebiya Kadeer, once a prominent businesswoman, ran afoul of authorities and now leads the WUC from exile. Ilham Tohti, a university professor critical of government policies in Xinjiang, has been charged with separatism, which can carry the death penalty.

Reza Hasmath, lecturer in Chinese politics at Oxford University, says Uighurs are hamstrung in securing coveted jobs due to difficulty accessing Han social networks, with the two groups distrusting each other.

“What we’re seeing in Xinjiang is that Hans dominate all the high status, high paying jobs, whereas minorities, and particularly Uighurs, are dominating the more low status, low paying jobs,” he said, even when education levels are comparable.

“These penalties in the labor market increase tensions,” he said in a presentation in Beijing, leading some to seek solace in their own ethnic traditions.

“For some minorities who are not doing very well in the labor market, they go to religion, they rediscover their own culture,” he said.

On a wall in Abdulhabir’s office, a pair of colorful Uighur doppa, or traditional hats, are surrounded by pennants and emblems from American institutions to which he has sent students, among them Wharton business school.

There are tensions surrounding culture and religion, he acknowledges, but says violence and killing imams are not the answer.

“I want people to become more open-minded and solve the problem together peacefully,” he said.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Uighur_entrepreneur_confronts_prejudice_in_China_999.html.

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