Xinjiang Repression (2002)

The Uighur separatist movement of China’s far western Xinjiang province wants an Islamic state, to be called East Turkestan.

China claims thousands of Uighurs have received training in Afghanistan and have links to Osama Bin Laden. It’s detained thousands of Uighurs since September 11th and torture is allegedly widespread. Muslim clerics have been sent in droves for ‘re-education’. Amnesty International claims “the current campaign is essentially a campaign against dissent and opposition”. But Xinjiang’s Communist party secretary retorts “Amnesty International is prejudiced.” He also makes clear “There’s no room for negotiation. China is a unified country”. Separatist bombings and riots have rocked Xinjiang since the 1980’s, but there have been no serious attacks since 1997 - although Uighur separatists were linked to the recent death of a senior Chinese diplomat in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan. It seems the ‘war on terror’ is a pretext for a war on freedom… On the first official media visit to the province in two years, the filmmakers are prevented from talking to ordinary Uighurs, trailed and filmed at every turn, shown a ‘model mosque’ and a ‘model village’. But under the cover of darkness, brave individuals speak out: “Work all day and starve. That’s why people stir up trouble… they all want independence, but don’t have the power to achieve it”. A massive influx of Han Chinese to work on a 4,000km gas pipeline has fuelled Uighur unemployment and done more to fuel resentment than any foreign fanatics.

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