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Mercy for China's Uighurs
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Reports coming in about China’s new gulag for Muslims seem too awful to believe. But the United Nations and responsible media have revealed that hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims from western China – and perhaps as many as one million – have been shut away in a growing chain of prison camps designed to impose ruthless state control over them and crush their culture and religion.

Who are these oddly-named people, China’s Uighurs? Their homeland lies on China’s far western region next to independent Kazakhstan and Pakistan. The region, as I’ve seen, is arid, hilly and very remote. The Uighurs are a Turkic people of ancient Muslim culture who have nothing in common with China except proximity. Their once independent nation used to be called the East Turkestan Republic before it was invaded and gobbled up in 1949 by Red China and, before that, by the Russian Empire.

A year later, Communist China began invading independent Tibet. China’s aim there was to crush Tibetan national resistance to Chinese rule and wipe out as much as possible of Tibet’s ancient feudal and religious culture. I infiltrated into Tibet in the 1980’s in time to see violent Tibetan demonstrations and riots against the Chinese occupiers. Four decades later, draconian Chinese rule is well on the way to crushing the life out of Tibet’s ancient Buddhist culture.

The same process is happening now in Eastern Turkestan. This strategic piece of real estate is part of the ethnic Turkish Central Asia that includes Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Mongolia and Afghanistan are sometimes included. In the late 19th century, there arose the Pan-Turkic movement in Turkey that sought to unite Central Asia under the guidance of Istanbul. But in the end, the Russian Empire and China occupied Central Asia until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Today, China is the last remaining colonial master.

The Uighurs, a forgotten people, have been protesting and resisting Chinese rule since the late 1940’s. Beijing has always seen Islam as a challenge to its absolute rule. Uighur resistance has been limited and ineffectual. But Beijing had a big scare when the US CIA set up camps in Afghanistan in the late 1970’s to train Uighurs into an anti-Chinese guerrilla force for use in a potential future US-China war. When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the former CIA training camps for Uighurs were brazenly called ‘Islamic terrorist training camps’ and blamed on Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida.

China has set about uprooting Muslim culture and identity. Religious devotions, beards and traditional Islamic dress, the Uighur language itself, and historic customs are banned. Communist party members are billeted in the home of Uighurs to keep a wary eye on them. Schools are run by Chinese officials; Uighur movements are restricted; mosques are shuttered.


Over the past year, China has reportedly been building what are officially called ‘re-education’ centers in the region. The UN reports that up to one million Muslims have been locked away in these modern gulags, surrounded by barbed wire and watch towers. China’s prison complex, known as ‘laogai,’ covers the nation, but the Muslim gulag appears particularly brutal and intimidating. Of course, a million Muslims in China’s prisons pales in comparison to the two million, mostly blacks, in US state and federal prisons (though none are charged with religious crimes).

China’s strategy in Tibet and Eastern Turkestan has been what I call ‘ethnic inundation.’ Han Chinese are brought in from afar to settle Muslim and Buddhist lands, relentlessly swamping the local population who become a policed minority. Interestingly, Israel has been following the same policy on the West Bank and Golan. Gaza has been turned into a giant, open-air prison for Palestinians. China’s Turkestan gulag may surpass Gaza in the number of prisoners it holds. Unsurprisingly, China rarely criticizes Israel for its repression of Palestinians.

The Muslim world has done next to nothing to protest the fate of the Uighurs. Only Turkey, one of the few Muslim nations with self-respect, is strongly rebuking China and giving refuge to Uighur refugees. Those self-proclaimed ‘defenders of the faith,’ Saudi Arabia, have been mute to the oppression in Turkestan – as mute as they have been to the savage mistreatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, 800,000 of whom are now living in awful condition in Bangladesh.

As with the sordid murder of Saudi writer Khashoggi by Saudi agents, few dare rebuke the rich perpetrator of the crime. No one wants to be on China’s blacklist.

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: China, Uyghurs 
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  1. Alistair says:

    ……..”The Muslim world has done next to nothing to protest the fate of the Uighurs”………

    Neither did the rest of the world; and this is a typical example of the mixed up priorities at the UN security council; while the council is too busy accommodating the Zionist regime of Israel; discussing loss of couple of israeli soldiers by kitchen knife in the occupied territories and criticizing Arab teenagers who desperately attempting to regain some dignity in their lost homeland – the communist regime of China would getaway with mass ethnic cleansing of its own muslim population with no real repercussion from the rest of the world. And this is the cost of “Trade Off” for allowing Zionists to run the UN security council; they set the agenda while dominating the narrative for their petty apartheid regime in Israel.
    This is a typical example of the mixed up priorities at the UN security council in which China is a permanent member with the “Veto Power”; now, let’s figure who is really in charge of the world affair, who is the “Superpower By Proxy”.

  2. Jmaie says:

    Of course, a million Muslims in China’s prisons pales in comparison to the two million, mostly blacks, in US state and federal prisons

    You had me until this. The US prison population is not mostly black. It is not even close to a majority, and that threshold would still not qualify as “mostly”…

    Feel free argue that too many blacks are incarcerated (as you likely have done elsewhere) but throwing out incorrect (and easily checked) statistics does your credibility no favors…


    • Replies: @Svigor
  3. DB Cooper says:

    Typical nonsense. If you care so much about the Tibetans you should at the very least call for the scrapping of the AFSPA in India occupied South Tibet (Arunachal).

  4. Have you seen this?

    “During the committee’s regular review of China, McDougall commented that she was “deeply concerned” about “credible reports” alleging mass detentions of millions of Uighurs Muslim minorities in “internment camps.” The Associated Press reported that McDougall “did not specify a source for that information in her remarks at the hearing.” (Note that the headline of the AP news wire is much weaker than that of Reuters: “UN panel concerned at reported Chinese detention of Uighurs.”)

    Video of the session confirms that McDougall provided no sourcing to back up her remarkable claim.

    This is to say, one American member of an independent UN body made a provocative claim that China was interning 1 million Muslims, but failed to provide a single named source. And Reuters and the Western corporate media ran with it anyway, attributing the unsubstantiated allegations of one US individual to the UN as a whole.”

  5. “Communist China began invading independent Tibet”? Tibet has never been independent nor, in our Westphalian sense, a nation. It has always been a Chinese dependency.

    “Their once independent nation used to be called the East Turkestan Republic before it was invaded and gobbled up in 1949 by Red China”. The East Turkestan Republic was never an independent nation.

    “China has set about uprooting Muslim culture and identity”. No-one has done more to uproot Muslim culture and identity that the West. Though two-thirds[1] of Chinese are atheists (in the Western sense) and one-fourth are non-religious Taoists, the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship in government-sanctioned religious organizations and the government supports seventy-four seminaries, one thousand seven hundred Tibetan monasteries, three thousand religious organizations, 85,000 religious sites and 300,000 full time Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Ancient Chinese, Taoist and Moslem clergy.

    “The UN reports that up to one million Muslims have been locked away in these modern gulags, “. No it doesn’t.

    “Israel has been following the same policy on the West Bank and Golan.” Israel has been practicing apartheid. China has obviously been doing the opposite.

    “The Muslim world has done next to nothing to protest the fate of the Uighurs. Only Turkey, one of the few Muslim nations with self-respect, is strongly rebuking China and giving refuge to Uighur refugees”. The Muslim world supports Chinas actions against its Wahabbi terrorists. Turkey, a NATO member, supports them.

    For an antidote, read

    [1] Gallup

    • Replies: @Kiza
    , @Colin Wright
    , @Tusk
  6. Kiza says:

    few dare rebuke the rich perpetrator of the crime. No one wants to be on China’s blacklist.

    No one except the brave Margolis.

    Margolis, you old smelly piece of CIA excrement! Promiting the CIA Grosse Luge of $1M interned Muslims to destabilise China.

  7. Kiza says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    Mr Roberts thank you very very much for your great contribution, both the article and the comment. It is relaxing to know that not all prominent people serve the lying Borg.

  8. Yee says:

    Looks like the US propaganda
    machine is in full throttle.

    I’m touched…. The US is the country most concern for the well-being of the Muslims.

    I’m for all Muslims going to America, and bring their Wahhabism with them…

  9. Tulips says:

    Mr. Margolis and the editors of Unz Review should have done some fact checking before posting this essay. The Uighor region of Western China was NOT an independent nation before 1949. Look at some maps in Old Maps Online, and you will see many historical maps made by Europeans and Americans showing Xinjiang (Sinkiang) as part of China. For example, the 1836 “Empire Chinois”, a 1903 Rand McNally map, or a 1913 National Geographic map. In 1944, the US War Dept’s, Morale Services Division, made a film “Why We Fight. The Battle of China”. It is avalable on YouTube and described in Wikipedia. It shows very clearly that the US Government considered Sinkiang (Xinjiang) and the Gobi Desert to be a “province of China” and declares the Uighor to be nomads. Incidentally, the US government in that same film also declared Tibet to be a “province of China”. Mr. Margolis and Unz editors should do some fact checking before repeating propaganda as fact.

  10. Tulips says:

    The NY Times has been reporting world news since the 1850s. The NYT archive shows that the first time the name “East Turkestan Republic” was used was March 12, 1946. It was used in the 1940s 7 more times, in the 1950s twice, in the 1960s twice, in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s never. The name was revived again in 2009. Searching the academic data base JSTOR, which indexes academic journals back to the early 1800s, the first use of “East Turkestan Republic” was in a 1956 article by Allen S. Whiting entitled “Nationality Tensions in Sinkiang”. There he explained that the “East Turkestan Republic” was created in 1944 by the Soviet Union as a communist enclave against Chinese nationalist forces. What an irony. Soviet incursion into China during the Nationalists vs. Communists civil war is now used as a vehicle for US incursion into China during the US vs. China economic war. As with many ethnic minority peoples exploited by big powers as proxy forces, the Uighurs will not benefit. Kurds come to mind.

  11. And Gay McDougal was citing DC based dissident group funded by the NED:

  12. Tulips says:

    I have visited China once, for an academic conference in Beijing. The smog and social class extremes were not to my liking. But the history I can read. China was invaded, chopped up, and demeaned by all imperialist powers from 1830 to 1950. They were all defeated and sent back home. Hong Kong peacefully reverted in 1997, and China is waiting for Taiwan, eventually. Only the US persists in trying to chop China, using minorities for proxy rebellions, and the Chinese government naturally opposes that with force. After several thousand years of Han dominance and government, China still has minorities, and still makes efforts to accept and maintain them, for example, printing 5 languages on the currency (Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, and Zhuang). In comparison, the US, Canada, Australia, etc. have almost destroyed their native minorities in a few hundred years of Anglo dominance and government. Can anyone imagine the US printing English, Spanish, Navajo, Cherokee, and Hawaiian on the US dollar? This essay by Mr. Margolis is clearly apiece with US efforts to chop China, blatant and unabashed. Just look at all of the emotionally loaded words: gulag, brutal, crush, ruthless, draconian, uproot, etc. As propaganda, this essay might have aroused listeners to BBC or CNN, but not for readers of Unz Review.

    • Replies: @Svigor
  13. @Godfree Roberts

    ‘Communist China began invading independent Tibet”? Tibet has never been independent nor, in our Westphalian sense, a nation. It has always been a Chinese dependency.

    “Their once independent nation used to be called the East Turkestan Republic before it was invaded and gobbled up in 1949 by Red China”. The East Turkestan Republic was never an independent nation…’

    This is simply imposing the modern, absolutist notion of the nation state over the more nuanced arrangements that prevailed in the past.

    Today, we think of the nation as absolute. The writ of the federal government runs equally supreme in Hawaii and in Maryland. Conversely, step across the border into Canada, and at least in theory, the US government has nothing to say.

    In the past, things were less black and white. Yes, Tibet paid tribute to China. So did Korea. No doubt the states existing where the Uighers now live did the same. The relationship could be compared to that of Japan to the United States in the Fifties. Submissive, yes — but hardly part and parcel of America.

    China didn’t enjoy anything approaching what we would call sovereignty over these regions — or for that matter, over Manchuria. Manchuria only entered the Chinese orbit when it conquered China but then found itself swallowed by its victim.

    The modern ‘China’ is a grossly engorged version of the real China of the past, incorporating numerous regions that were never any more part of China than the Guatemala of the United Fruit era was part of the United States. Today, she wants Taiwan — another land that was never part of the historical China.

    Of course, practically, there’s not much to do about this. However, we needn’t pretend there’s anything just or right about China’s current borders.

    • Replies: @DB Cooper
  14. DB Cooper says:
    @Colin Wright

    No even in the sense of modern nation state Tibet is still part of China. Not only old maps but numerous treaties Britain signed with China concerning Tibet, for example boundary demarcation between the portion with Sikkim, can attest to that.

  15. Yee says:

    Besides Britain signing treaty with Qing Emperor about Tibet DB Cooper mentioned above, Tsarist Russia also signed numerous treaties with Qing about Xinjiang and Manchuria.

    If you want to find example of former neighboring sovereign nation being annexed, see Ryukyu Kingdom (Okinawa) being annexed by Japan. That little kingdom signed its own treaties with the United States in 1854, with France in 1855, with Holland in 1859. Who has it now?

    Of course, fact is not important for the West…. Propaganda is everything.

  16. Tusk says:
    @Godfree Roberts

    Once more the CCP agents show their hand

    • Replies: @Godfree Roberts
  17. @Tusk

    Is ad hominem the best you can manage or do you have something useful to contribute?

  18. Lin says:

    I’m glad that Eric Margolis has self ID himself as a CIA funded propagandist. I think the yanks should improve their recruiting procedure and obviously Margolis doesn’t deserve their pay cheques

  19. Margolis doesn’t know anything about Western China or the Uyghurs and probably doesn’t even care. He was just given a list of talking points by his CIA handlers.

    That all kinds of people who were never interested in some remote place or the exotic people there are suddenly so concerned — this is the hallmark of an orchestrated propaganda campaign.

  20. Lin says:

    BTW,some facts:
    –Han Chinese have a long historical presence in that part of central asia known as Xinjiang, as long as the Uighurs.
    –Uighurs are NOT the aborigines of Xinjiang. The oldest inhabitants were a certain Persian tribe and their descendents are still there in Xinjiang numbered in 10s of 1000s.
    Regarding Chinese presence in central asia, the Chinese semi-fictional heroine Mulan was a good example:
    …She addressed the Chinese emperor as the Great Khan, typical central Asian lexicon
    …She was a camel jockey
    She obviously was not Han Chinese but she served the Chinese empire against nomadic invaders
    Her full name is Hua Mu lan. I suspect ‘Hua’ is chinese phonetical translation of the first vowel of ‘Farsi’ or Farsi speaking people

  21. Lin says:

    The Tang dynasty Poet Laureate Li Bai 李白 was born in nowadays Kyrgyzstan. There’s a street named after him in a Kyrgyzstan city

  22. Svigor says:

    Another problem is that Americans read that and begin to wonder if the world isn’t better off with so many Wiggers in prison, just as they know it’s better off with so many *coughs* in prison.

  23. Svigor says:

    Chinks genocided the Dzungars in the 18th century. Nothing Americans or even Europeans did came close. There’s really probably nothing exceptional about the east Asians’ extermination of the Dzungars, except that it was recent enough for Whitey to have been around to witness and document it.

    • Replies: @Lin
    , @Tulips
    , @ZZZ
  24. Lin says:

    ” Nothing Americans or even Europeans did came close..”
    You’re bloody crapping me, haha..
    Sure wars happened but you conveniently omitted all the wars and death waged by the Europeans back in the 18th century

    • Replies: @Svigor
  25. Svigor says:

    You conveniently omitted who the Europeans genocided.

    Own your race’s record, slanty-eyes.

    • Replies: @Lin
  26. Lin says:

    I can confidently claim my slanty-eyes race’s record pales in front of the euro record
    I can confidently claim my slanty-eyes race’s integrity to remind whoever you’re that
    —the euros had committed genocides against blacks and native Indians
    —over 10000 Sikhs were slaughtered by hindu mobs post Indira Gandhi’s death in 1984
    —10s of 1000s of germans were killed in Dresden
    Whoever you’re either uneducated in history or hypocrite OR you’re a poor specimen of your race

  27. I hope that Mr Margolis’s next article will be a plea for mercy for Palestinians.

  28. I just came across this item in the Global Times:” Xinjiang to build 210,000 houses for rural poor
    Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region plans to build 210,700 houses for underprivileged people in 2019, authorities said Thursday at the ongoing session of the People’s Congress of the region.”
    Would that the British authorities were as oppressive as that.

  29. Tulips says:

    Thank you. I had never heard of the Dzungars and their destruction. Wikipedia says it was the Manchu rulers of China, using Manchu troops, who massacred the Dzungars, after repeated rebellions. Massacres plus small pox epidemics destroyed most of the Dzungars. The elimination of these Buddhist peoples opened Sinkiang for dominance by Muslims. I still stand with the claim that Han Chinese governments have been less destructive of minorities than Anglo governments in US, Canada, and Australia.

  30. ZZZ says:

    The Manchus were brutal rulers. The Han are gentle and civilized people.

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