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“Whatever becomes of Kashgar will become of all Uyghurs”

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Kashgar is regarded as the “cradle of Uyghur culture,” lying on the ancient Silk Road route, with significant historical importance as a crossroads between empires and civilizations. China seeks to erase that history. (Image: uhrp.org)

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Recently, the Uyghur Human Rights Project documented how the Chinese government has been targeting bazaars, mosques and other culturally significant areas around Kashgar, which hold great significance for the Uyghur people. This is part of a systematic campaign to eliminate the Turkic heritage of the area and to remake it as a Chinese tourism hub.  

The pictures displayed vividly show how the vast demolitions and destruction perpetrated by the Chinese government adversely affect the lives of the Uyghur people.   

As Abduweli Ayup related, Kashgar is the cultural capital of the Uyghurs. It has not been our political or economic center since the invasion by the People’s Liberation Army in 1949, but it has continued to play a role as our cultural capital. If Uyghur culture were a scale, Kashgar would be its standard unit of measurement. The changes in Kashgar—the Sinification and cultural loss—are a microcosm of the cultural loss Uyghurs have suffered as a whole. In other words, we can measure the present and future of the Uyghurs through Kashgar. Whatever becomes of Kashgar will become of all Uyghurs.

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In the pictures displayed by the Uyghur Human Rights Project, one can witness destroyed homes and livelihoods, as well as damage inflicted upon beautiful Turkic mosques and the faces of people who have suffered immensely under China’s repression.  

Mehmet Sawut noted, “These photographs were taken in the period when large-scale destruction started in Kashgar. It hurts to see some of the images. Kashgar has a history of at least 2000 years, even longer than Moscow. The push to demolish and “renew” old sites around the city was heart-rending for Uyghurs. Some families had been living here for at least 600 years when they were forced out.”

According to him, “The demolition of homes and other places inside the seven city gates was especially depressing. These places should have been preserved according to UN regulations for cultural relics. They were demolished beginning in 2003; the demolitions reached a climax in 2008 and 2009. Afterward, the government demolished even more of Kashgar, and now they have made it into an entirely different place. They’ve changed it into a Chinese theme park. The demolition of Kashgar’s old-city districts is tantamount to the destruction and demolition of Uyghur culture itself.”

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In trying to deceive the international community about what happened in Xingjian, the Chinese government sent out greetings in honor of Eid Al Adha, proclaiming that they distributed gifts and treats to the Uyghur people.  However, what transpired was nothing more than a public relations game, designed to deceive the international community, just as the Nazis invited the International Red Cross to the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp in order to deceive the international community about what was going on there.

(As the US Holocaust Museum noted, “It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was “beautified.” Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt.”)

Learning from the Nazis, the Chinese government adopted a similar propaganda strategy.   

Ilshat Hassan Kokbore, a political analyst based in the US, who’s also the vice-chairman of the executive committee of the World Uyghur Congress, told RFA: “It’s clear from its latest propaganda blitz featuring Uyghurs happily’ celebrating the Qurban Eid under the watch of fang huiju officials. Their job is to surveil, manipulate and even threaten the Uyghurs by forcing them to smile, look happy and perform for the state media to deceive the world. In fact, this is an intensive form of state repression that we’re witnessing. This inhuman treatment of Uyghurs is more than shocking, but pure evil.”

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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