China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity

By: Austin Ramzy

Rahile Dawut, above with camera, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. She was detained in December 2017 and has not been heard from since. Lisa Ross

ISTANBUL — As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region.

It was a line that Mr. Mamut navigated successfully for 26 years, eventually rising to become editor in chief of the Communist Party-controlled magazine Xinjiang Civilization before retiring in 2011.

“My father is very smart; he knows what is the red line, and if you cross it you are taken to jail,” said his son, Bahram Sintash, who now lives in Virginia. “You work very close to the red line to teach people the culture. You have to be smart and careful with your words.”

Then last year, the red line moved. Suddenly, Mr. Mamut and more than a hundred other Uighur intellectuals who had successfully navigated the worlds of academia, art and journalism became the latest targets of a sweeping crackdown in the region of Xinjiang that has ensnared as many as one million Muslims in indoctrination camps.

The mass detention of some of China’s most accomplished Uighurs has become an alarming symbol of the Communist Party’s most intense social-engineering drive in decades, according to scholars, human rights advocates and exiled Uighurs.

As the guardians of Uighur traditions, chroniclers of their history and creators of their art, the intellectuals were building the Central Asian, Turkic-speaking society’s reservoir of collective memory within the narrow limits of authoritarian rule. Their detention underscores the party’s attempts to decimate Uighur identity in order to remold the group into a people who are largely secular, integrated into mainstream Chinese culture and compliant with the Communist Party, observers say.

The Chinese government has described the detentions as a job training program aimed at providing employment opportunities for some of the country’s poorest people. But a list of more than 100 detained Uighur scholars compiled by exiles includes many prominent poets and writers, university heads and professors of everything from anthropology to Uighur history.

“The fact that highly educated intellectuals and academics and scientists and software engineers are being held in these facilities is one of the best counterarguments to authorities’ claims that this is some kind of educational program meant to benefit Uighurs,” said Maya Wang, a Hong Kong-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.

The removal of high-profile Uighur scholars familiar with the Chinese government, and the country’s education and legal systems, is aimed at erasing not only the group’s unique ethnic identity but also its ability to defend such traditions, said a Uighur professor now living in Istanbul who asked not to be identified because of possible risks to family in Xinjiang.

Qurban Mamut, a magazine editor in Xinjiang who has been detained.
“My father is very smart; he knows what is the red line,” his son said. Bahram Sintash

Many scholars trace the assault on intellectuals to the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist, in 2014. Mr. Tohti, who was an outspoken critic of the discrimination Uighurs face in China, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of separatism.

More detentions came in 2017. Many of those targeted worked on preserving Uighur culture.

Rahile Dawut, one of the most well known of the disappeared Uighur academics, is an anthropologist at Xinjiang University who studied Islamic shrines, traditional songs and folklore. Ms. Dawut was detained in December 2017 and hasn’t been heard from since.

Before the crackdown, the Uighur intellectual elite offered a bridge between the body of Uighur society, who number about 11 million and are largely poor farmers, and the much wealthier Han Chinese, who dominate economic and political power. The scholars also worked carefully to try to improve the lot of a group that complained of widespread discrimination and draconian restrictions on religious activity.

These scholars offered a moderate path, where Uighurs could maintain religious and cultural practices without turning to extreme and isolationist ideas, said Rune Steenberg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen.

“This is the really big tragedy about the clampdown,” Dr. Steenberg said. “They were actually bridge builders of integration of broader Uighur society into modern Chinese society and economy.”

Many young Uighurs have been inspired by the scholars’ accomplishments, said Erkin Sidick, a Uighur engineer who went to the United States for graduate school in 1988 and now works on telescopes for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mr. Sidick said hundreds would attend informal talks he gave on pursuing graduate degrees and many closely studied a book he published that compiled biographies of Uighur academics.

“Uighur people value education very much,” he said.

Now, Uighurs keep a grimmer list of Uighur intellectuals — those who have disappeared in the current campaign.

Tahir Hamut, a Uighur poet who lives in Virginia, began working with other Uighur exiles to collect the names of those detained over the past year based on news reports and information from families and classmates. The list has now grown to 159 Uighurs and five others from other minority groups.

“These people are all the most prestigious in Xinjiang,” Mr. Hamut said. “They are models who all study diligently and raise themselves up. Their arrest is a great injury, a great attack to all Uighurs.”

The Chinese authorities have accused Uighurs in official positions of being “two-faced,” or mouthing the official line in public but resisting the crackdown in private. Such labels have surrounded the removal of several top administrators at universities in Xinjiang.

Many scholars trace the assault on intellectuals to the imprisonment of Ilham Tohti,
a Uighur economist, in 2014.CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

The Xinjiang government propaganda department and the news office for the State Council, China’s cabinet, did not respond to faxed requests for comment. But officials in Xinjiang have clearly stated their resolve to pursue people they see as hindering efforts to rewire Uighurs and steer them from what authorities have called religious extremism.

“Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins,” wrote Maisumujiang Maimuer, a religious affairs official, in a commentary in the state news media. “Completely shovel up the roots of ‘two-faced people,’ dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.”

The campaign has not spared scholars who expressed support for the party, such as Abdulqadir Jalaleddin, a scholar of medieval Central Asian poetry at Xinjiang Normal University who worked to preserve Uighur culture and identity.

“He was a very moderate man who always tried to give a balanced view, so much so that a lot of Uyghur nationalists accused him of selling out to the regime,” Rachel Harris, who studies Uighur music at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and has known Mr. Jalaleddin for more than a decade, said in an email. (Uyghur is an alternative spelling of Uighur.)

Last year, Mr. Jalaleddin joined a government-led campaign for prominent Uighurs to write open letters declaring their allegiance to the state.

Despite that declaration, he was detained in January 2018, according to overseas Uighur organizations.

“So many moderate intellectuals have been detained now,” Dr. Harris said. “I don’t know how else to understand this, except as a deliberate policy to deprive Uyghurs of their cultural memory.”

It is a pattern that has repeated itself in the far western region. The authorities targeted Uighur intellectuals after the People’s Liberation Army occupied Xinjiang in 1949, and even before in the late 1930s, when Xinjiang was ruled by a Soviet-backed warlord, said Ondrej Klimes, a researcher with the Oriental Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences who studies Xinjiang and the Uighurs.

“It makes the community easier to be subjugated, more cooperative, more docile,” Dr. Klimes said. “You have this whenever an authoritarian regime comes, they first target intellectuals.”

By detaining so many influential figures, the government appears to be acknowledging that its efforts to woo Uighurs to accept the primacy of the Chinese state have failed, and that it must use more forceful methods, Dr. Steenberg said.

“The government has lost,” he said, “and now like a chess player about to lose, it swipes the board.”

The Source

What is India hiding in Kashmir?

By: Syed Ali Geelani

New York. October 27, 2018.

“Human rights violations in Kashmir perpetrated by Indian army with legal immunity dwarf in scale the violations that provoked international humanitarian action in other international disputes. Human rights violations in Kashmir have been documented by all international and neutral human rights organization. Very recently, it was also documented in the United Nations report issued by the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The High Commissioner urged India to allow the United Nations delegation to visit Kashmir to asses the situation. But India does not allow such a delegation to visit Kashmir. It clearly shows that India has something to hide. May be, India does not want the world powers to know the following: tens of thousands indiscriminately slaughtered and countless rapes, abductions, custodial disappearances, arbitrary detentions, arsons, and brutal suppression of peaceful political protest,” this was conveyed in a message to the conference attendees of Pakistani American Society of New York (PASNY) by Syed Ali Geelani, Chairman, All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Jammu & Kashmir.

The Indian army is involved in serious war crimes. They open fire on unarmed civilians at their will because they have been given immunity under draconian laws, like Armed Forces Special Powers Act. (AFSPA). We demand an inquiry into these war crimes by a neutral agency, like the United Nations, Mr. Geelani added. Geelani Sahib insisted that the movement in Kashmir is indigenous, popular and people’s movement and rejected the notion that it is Pakistan sponsored. Geelani said,

Speaking as a guest speaker, Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum reminded the audience of the injustice, tyranny and inhumanity of the Indian military as it occupies Kashmir. He cautioned that at this moment in our historic struggle for self-determination, the Kashmiri people with poise, confidence and unity are taking their inalienable struggle in a new direction of non-violence and peaceful agitation.

Dr. Fai reiterated that major challenge faced by activists interested in a peaceful, just and lasting resolution to the Kashmir problem was the manner in which world powers spoke for Kashmiris and not to Kashmiris. This form of hegemony was most pronounced by constructing a false history and destroying Kashmiri identity. How often do we hear outlandish statements like, ‘Kashmir is an integral part of India’ or ‘Kashmir is a bilateral issue between New Delhi & Islamabad.’? These statements do not exist in a vacuum. They are loaded and violent. This form of violence is more insidious, more difficult to confront, for it is attempting to indoctrinate Kashmiris about their past, their present and direct them to a future that does not belong to them. They had become the objects of history rather than the masters of it.

Col. Maqbool Malik the Secretary General, (PASNY) reminded that it happened 71 years ago when Indian troops invaded Kashmir under the auspices of a fraudulent Instrument of Accession. British Scholar, Alistair Lamb has convincingly demonstrated that the Instrument was as bogus as an original has never been found, and there is no plausible explanation for a disappearance if an original had ever existed.

Mr. Malik reminded the audience that the conflict began in 1846 with the illegal, immoral and inhumane sale of the historic state of Jammu and Kashmir to a non-Kashmiri Dogra family for services rendered to the British Raj. From that point, onwards, Kashmiri’s have long for self-determination. Yet, tragically, their legitimate aspirations were crushed with the grotesque, irregular and illegal ascension, by the brutal foreign ruler Maharaja Hari Singh who did not have the consent of the people. With the arrival of Indian soldiers – the historic Black Day of Occupation begins its most recent and insidious manifestation.

Mr. Ashraf Aazmi, the President of PASNY and emcee of the event said that the world powers should exert its considerable powers of persuasion to mediate a peaceful conclusion of the Kashmir conflict with India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiri leadership. Bilateral talks and negotiations over Kashmir between Pakistan and India have proven sterile for 71 years, and nothing in that dismal equation has changed.

Sardar Imtiaz Khan Garalvi said that October 27th is celebrated all over the world as the day of occupation. Today, we are observing October 27th as a day of grief and sorrow, because it was on that day in 1947 that India sent its army to occupy our land without the consent of the people and in defiance of international norms. He said that Indian forces are using brute and excessive force against unarmed civilians and taking revenge from innocent citizens.

Sardar Taj Khan emphasized that Kashmiris will resist India’s colonial occupation for as long as necessary to enjoy their right to self‑determination as prescribed by international law, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and a long series of United Nations Security Council resolutions that were agreed upon by both India and Pakistan and accepted by the International Community.

Ms. Amna Taj Khan urged the leadership of India and Pakistan to include the accredited leadership of Jammu & Kashmir in all future negotiations. Any Kashmir solution that fails to command the consensus of the 22 million people of Kashmir, Amna underscored, is doomed to shipwreck moments after its launch. She however, emphasized that with Kashmiri participation, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is.

Shahid Comrade of Pak USA Freedom Forum said that Kashmir continues to be a nuclear flashpoint in South-Asia, periodic eruptions will continue to risk the nuclear neighbors and violence will continue to chase the region unless the Kashmir problem is resolved to the wishes of the people of the state.

Shahid believes that a just and lasting settlement of the dispute is possible only through tripartite negotiations between the Governments of India and Pakistan and the legitimate leadership of the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Others who spoke included: Mr. Naeem Iqbal Cheema, Pakistan Consul General, Dr. Amarjit Singh, President, Khalistan Affairs Center, Dr. Syed T. Ahmad, Mr. Muhammad Ashraf, Dr. (Professor) Tamkeen and others.

Dr. Fai can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or

History should not imprison the future of Kashmir

By: Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai
October 19, 2018

Human rights work in tandem with Kashmir peace initiatives. The two do not war with one another. The idea that suppression of human rights promotes peace is discredited by all history, including that of Kashmir. The denial of freedom of speech, association, religion, due process, equal justice, and self-determination in Kashmir has sabotaged peace, not boosted its chances. Ditto in the past for East Timor, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Southern Sudan and etc. The people of Kashmir no less demand dignity and respect than do other peoples.

History should not imprison the future, but neither can it be ignored in assessing the justice and morality of aspirations. A brief chronicling of Kashmir’s history will enlighten understanding of its current plight and viable solutions.

The territory was a princely state ruled over by an oppressive Maharajah at the time British India was partitioned in 1947. The partition lines were drawn with a religious eye. In cases of doubt as to the sovereignty sentiments of a region, the British held plebiscites, which were honored. The more than 500 princely states enjoyed the option of acceding to India, Pakistan, or choosing independence on August 15, 1947, the date when British sovereignty lapsed. Kashmir was one of three states that had not chosen an option at the deadline. With regard to the other two, (Junagarh and Hyderabad) which were predominately Hindu but ruled over by Muslims, India by force of arms insisted on a plebiscite. Both voted in favor of accession to India.

Kashmir presented the flipside of the issue. According to the self-determination standard for princely states promulgated by India’s Prime Minister Nehru, a plebiscite should have been held in Kashmir to determine its sovereign future. Every reasonable opinion knew that Kashmiris would then have voted either for independence or accession to Pakistan.

Knowing that self-determination for Kashmir would prove adverse to its interests, India schemed with the Maharaja to fabricate a document of accession that would save the Maharaja from toppling to indigenous insurgent forces. India also arranged for the Maharaja to invite its army to defeat the insurgency, which provoked Pakistan to rally military in their support.

India raced to the United Nations Security Council and the Council enacted resolutions in 1948 and 1949, eagerly accepted by both India and Pakistan, stipulating a self-determination plebiscite for Kashmir conducted by the United Nations. In preparation for the voting, Indian and Pakistan forces would be substantially thinned. India, however, quickly fabricated excuses for foiling self-determination by raising endless quibbles about demobilization and scaling back its military presence. The sole reason for India’s obstructionism was knowledge that Kashmiris would never vote accession to its orbit.

India thus unilaterally annexed Kashmir in the early 1950s with a special constitutional status that promised autonomy. But India gradually reneged on its promise, and Kashmir was reduced to virtually the same status as all of India’s other States.

Kashmiris, however, are exceptionally patient and accommodating. For years they struggled through peaceful and democratic means to protest their denial of self-determination. But 1987 marked the straw that broke the camel’s back. Another rigged election by India created despair, especially among the Kashmiri youth. ‘India Today’ magazine reported, “In the Amira Kadal constituency of Srinagar, Muslim United Front (MUF’s) Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah (Alias: Syed Salahuddin) was a candidate. As the vote counting began, it was becoming clear that Yusuf Shah was winning by a landslide. His opponent, Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah, went home dejected. But he was summoned back by the electoral officials and declared the winner. When the crowds protested, the police arrived and arrested Yusuf Shah and his supporters. They were held in custody till the end of 1987.” Further, India’s ruthless suppression of peaceful dissent destroyed the moderate option, resulting in the latest uprising in 1989.

Since the 1989 uprising, more than 100,000 Kashmiris have died. Greater numbers have been tortured, mutilated, kidnapped and arbitrarily arrested. Political prisoners number in the thousands. Emergency laws were enacted. The gruesome human rights landscape in Kashmir has been confirmed by every independent human rights organization in addition to the recent report by the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights.

Although it is neither for Pakistan nor for India to determine the self-determination timetable for more than 22 million Kashmiris, we welcome the peace initiative between the South Asian neighbors, which include negotiations over Kashmir. We believe in the universality of human rights and human aspirations. Thus, we welcome the initiative to the extent it seeks to lift a heavy financial and military burden from the necks of Pakistan and Indian.

India’s so-called “democracy” in Kashmir resembles Myanmar’s patently bogus democracy. The recent nationwide Panchayat (local bodies) elections are emblematic. Let me review the stunning voter boycott statistics from Srinagar and its surroundings on October 15, 2018.

The Economic Times reported on October 18, 2018 that when the time for voting had ended, the turnout for the final phase of elections, which was held only for two municipal bodies in Kashmir, remained low as usual at 4.2 per cent.

These boycott figures are not aberrational but typical. They represent a stunning vote of no confidence by the Kashmiri people in their current illegal governance by India.

Kashmir’s right, however, is not self-executing. Diplomacy, perseverance, and small but gradual steps will be necessary. The following is urgent to jump start progress on human rights and peace in Kashmir:

1. India must repeal all of its draconian laws that violate human rights in Kashmir;

2. Military hostilities must cease immediately, and a scheduled withdrawal of security forces should commence;

3. All political prisoners must be released;

4. Fundamental human rights to assemble peacefully for political purposes, to freedom of speech and of association, and to freedom of religion should be recognized and honored;

5. Kashmiris should be included in all future negotiations along with India and Pakistan..

Fulfillment of this 5-point agenda would not be a dead end but a beginning of a better tomorrow.

The peace process and human rights in Kashmir cannot be separated. They will succeed or fail together. We hope we can count on the moral suasion and conscience of the world leaders to push success forward.

Dr. Fai is the Secretary General, World Kashmir Awareness Forum and can be reached at: 1-202-607-6435 or

Millions of Khashoggi’s that the world doesn’t look for..

Did you found Khashaggi ?!
Millions of Khashoggi’s that the world doesn’t look for…

It is in everywhere around us in this world
On the land of, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, Turkestan, Burma, Kashmir, Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya, Bosnia, Iraq, Iran .. and more places

But the world has a one-eyed to see & move or investigation but only one Khashaggi,

Our Voice Matters
Twitter:  @OurVoiceMatterz 
Facebook: @ourvoicematterz

Save Kashmir, Save Humanity: Hold Promised Plebiscite in Kashmir

Save Kashmir, Save Humanity: Hold Promised Plebiscite in Kashmir

The Indian Independence Act and the partition plan of 3 June, 1947, envisaged the division of the Indian sub-continent into two sovereign states of Pakistan and India. There were more than five hundred princely states in India at the time of partition ruled by the native rulers who enjoyed autonomy in running the affairs of their states. These states were given the option to join any of the two dominions keeping in view the demographic realities and their geographical proximity.
    Ruler of Hyderabad who was a Muslim wanted to join Pakistan, but the Indian government annexed the state using its military might on the plea that since majority of the population of Hyderabad was Hindu it could not accede to Pakistan. Kashmir having 87 percent Muslim population was ruled by a Sikh ruler.The sikh ruler of Kashmir was not able to form a decision so he wanted to take time to make a final decision and for that extent he signed standstill agreement with the Government of Pakistan. He then wanted to sign the standstill agreement with india as well but india refused to do so which alarmed the establishment of Pakistan.
    The people of Kashmir were desirous of joining Pakistan due to its geographical proximity and their historic, religious and cultural bonds with the people of Pakistan. However the Indian government coerced the Sikh ruler to join the Indian dominion. That was a classic example of the Indian double standards and its betrayal of the principles enshrined in the partition plan and negation of the reasons it employed to capture Hyderabad.The muslims of Jammu area were killed by the Dogra army with the help of Hindus and Sikhs. it is said that more than 4 lakh muslims were killed at that point of juncture.
    Later Pashtun Muslims invaded kashmir because they wanted to save the Muslims of Jammu & Kashmir and wanted to make kashmir as the part of Pakistan. The sikh ruler sought india’s help to fight the Pashtun tribals and indian army landed into Kashmir. The sikh ruler signed the instrument of accession with india but it was made conditional. Kashmiri people were promised that they will be will given chance to decide their future as soon as the situation gets normal. The presence of Indian Army in kashmir fueled the conflagration and eventually led to war between Pakistan and India.
    The Indian government approached the UN on 1 January, 1948, for help in the matter. A number of resolutions were adopted by the UN emphasizing the need for immediate cessation of hostilities, demarcation of the ceasefire line, demilitarization of the territory and deciding the question of accession through a plebiscite under the auspices of UN.
    With the passing of the resolutions, a ceasefire came into effect and a demarcation line was also drawn which partitioned Kashmir into Azad Kashmir and Indian-held Kashmir. On the question of demilitarisation of the valley, no headway could be made due to the Indian intransigence.
    The head of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan Sir Oven Dixon, an eminent Australian jurist, quit his job in protest against non-cooperation by India. However, the Indian leader Jawahar Lal Nehru in the correspondence exchanged with Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his statements in the Indian parliament kept reiterating his commitment to abide by the UN resolutions and allow the people of Kashmir to settle the question of accession through their free will.
    Kashmir’s right of self-determination and is intact ,genuine and legal in the eyes of international law. There is striking resemblance between UN Resolutions of 13 August 1948 and in Text of Mountbatten’s conditional acceptance of doubtful instrument of Accession of Hari Singh.
    Resolution of 13th August 1948 said that the “future status of the state shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people. The letter of Mountbatten dated 26 October says – special circumstances mentioned by your Highness my Government have decided to accept the accession of Kashmir State to the Dominion of India. Consistently with their policy that in the case of any State where the issue of accession has been the subject of dispute, the question if accession should be decided in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State.
    The more likely outcome is that Kashmir will become independent, if this option is available. In a recent poll, almost 75% of Kashmiris, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists, favored independence. There is no reason why Kashmir, like India before it, could not opt for secularism, thus protecting all three religions equally.
    Kashmir is waiting for plebiscite promised to them by the international society in 1948 and have laid uncountable sacrifices for their right to self determination.
    In the wake of 1971 war, India and Pakistan signed Simla Agreement committing themselves to resolve all disputes including Kashmir through bilateral negotiations. Under the Simla Pact ceasefire, the line was changed into line of control. It does not say Kashmir dispute is solved or self-determination kept on hold. A further clause of Simla agreement says – That the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations shall govern the relations between India and Pakistan.
    This keeps UN resolutions on Kashmir live. But unfortunately the Indians never responded positively to Pakistan’s overtures for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. Frustrated by this continued stalemate, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front launched an armed struggle against the Indian occupation of Kashmir in 1989. India responded by inducting more than seven Lac troops, who let loose a reign of terror in the valley. The international community which initially recognized the move as a freedom struggle has shown criminal indifference to the cause of Kashmiris after 9/11.
    Especially Since 1989, Indian forces are committing heinous crimes against Innocent kashmiris. Kashmir is the most militrilized zone in the world.
    It is for all these reasons, the Kashmir people deserve a referendum. The people of Kashmir have made it obvious that they want freedom. There have been daily protests resulting in the loss of many lives. In order to stop the bloodshed, a robust political solution is required. They should have the right to vote on their own independence and freedom.

Fatalities So Far

    Jan. 1989 to 31st December, 2016
    Total Killings  94595
    Custodial Killings 7,078
    Civilians Arrested 139,612
    Structures Arsoned/Destroyed 107,740
    Women Widowed 22,831
    Children Orphaned 107,603
    Women gang-raped / Molested 10,828
    Enforced Disappearances 10,000 +
    Blinded 100s

Author: Advocate Sheikh Arshid

Twitter: @AdvocateArshid

Joburg protest against Indian atrocities in Kashmir

Johannesburg – Members of the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities in Joburg gathered on Saturday to protest in front of the Wanderers Stadium, where the India-South Africa cricket match was being played.

The aim of protest was to highlight atrocities committed by Indian forces in Kashmir, especially the use of pellet guns which are making hundreds of civilians blind.
International human rights organisations have already criticised the use of pellet guns by Indian forces against civilians.
Kashmiri activists gathered holding placards and chanting slogans. They also held banners with photos of pellet guns victims to expose the South African public to the extent of the injuries sustained by these weapons.
Tens of thousands of South Africans who came to watch the match witnessed the protest. It is first time that so many South Africans were exposed to photos of Indian atrocities in Kashmir.
Activists also appealed to the United Nations to implement their long outstanding Security Council resolutions on Kashmir which ask for a referendum in Kashmir. The Kashmir resolutions were passed by UN Security Council in 1948 on the request of India, asking for a referendum to take place in the whole of the Kashmir valley.

The Pakistani community also organised a seminar of 200 people on February 5 in Pretoria to show solidarity with the Kashmiri people.
Foreign Bureau

Kashmir – The Valley Of Tears

Kashmiri brethren for their inalienable right of self-determination promised to them by the UN in 1948 and 1949.

As a matter of fact, due to the apathy shown by the UN and the big powers India has always refused to implement the UN Security Council resolutions for the last 70 years that gave Kashmiris the right through plebiscite to join India or Pakistan.The US and the West have double standards.Take the case of East Timor, which was carved out of the largest Muslim country of the world. A resolution was passed within months and implemented within weeks.

In 1991, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, once again UN Security Council passed the resolution to punish Iraq, which was implemented immediately because it was in the interest of the US and the West. It does not look like that they will do it because only when public protest fits into the geopolitical designs of the US and the West that they declare it a popular movement and honour it with the award of a `colour label`.The `orange revolution` of Ukraine, the `rose revolution` of Georgia, the `cidar` revolution of Lebanon and much earlier velvet revolution of Czechoslovakia would pale before the Kashmiris` movement for their freedom yet they were given colours by the colour-blind big powers. It has to be mentioned that in none of the above cases there was a UN mandate whereas Kashmiris have been given their inalienable right of self-determination by the UN in 1948 and 5th January 1949.

International community should stop India from perpetrating atrocities on the people of Kashmir and also understand the gravity of the situation, as this conflict has the potential to big conflagration that could adversely impact the region and beyond. Historical evidence suggests that Kashmiris have passed through the longest ordeal and faced death and destruction. They had faced repression even before the partition when the British had sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh, a former governor of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh, for 7.5 million rupees. Once again at the time of partition when people of Kashmir had dreamed of freedom from oppression, India accepted Lord Mountbatten as the first Governor General of India with a view to exacting undue favours from the `friend`.

The plan of annexing Kashmir was contrived and implemented by Lord Mountbatten and Nehru when Raja Hari Singh was coerced into signing the controversial document. According to another report, a fake document of annexation was prepared by them, and it was on the basis of this document that Endian forces entered the Valley and annexed Kashmir. It is an irrefutable fact that on 19th July 1947, Muslim Conference organised a convention and passed a resolution for merging with Pakistan, which stated: “This convention of Muslim Conference has reached the conclusion that geographical conditions, 80 per cent Muslim population, important rivers of Punjab passing through the state, language, cultural, ethnic and economic relations and contiguity of the state with Pakistan make it imperative to merge with Pakistan”. According to the Partition of India, the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir was to be decided in the light of its people`s wishes.

However, India occupied the State through military force and claimed it as an integral part of India. Earlier, changes in the Radcliff Award were made through intrigue by Lord Mountbatten by giving Gurdaspur to India otherwise India had no road link with Kashmir. When volunteers from Pakistan entered Kashmir to help Kashmiris in their struggle for freedom from illegal occupation, it was India that took the matter to the UN under Chapter VI of the UN Charter dealing with Pacific Settlement of Disputes.

According to Tashkent Declaration after 1965 War and Simla Agreement after 1971 War, both India and Pakistan had agreed to resolve all disputes through bilateral dialogue. Since then, India has always taken the position that Kashmir issue is a bilateral matter, and thus refuses to accept third party mediation. Former President Musharraf had more than once expressed Pakistan`s willingness to go beyond their stated position provided reciprocated by India. But India did not respond to these gestures; hence no progress could be made towards conflict resolution. He was of the opinion that the situation after 9/11 warranted a change in the strategy to resolve the issues, as the US had come out with the doctrine of pre-emptive strike. India mistook it as a carte blanche to all the `big and mighty` and thought it could apply the same in this region.

India has been harbouring the idea of limited war up to 2002 when it moved its forces close to the Pakistan`s borders. It was a war of attrition. And when India felt that Pakistan would not be cowed down, it ultimately withdrew its forces to the original positions. It was in view of post-9/11 scenario that Pakistan had hinted that both countries should go beyond their stated positions with a view to finding a solution of the Kashmir dispute, which was acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

There is no doubt that People on both sides of the Control Line want peace and wish that Kashmir dispute be resolved through dialogue, as they do not wish to live in trepidation and fear.The US and the West should, however, realise that India has been using bilateralism only as a ploy to retain its illegal occupation of the disputed territory. But with a view to appeasing India because of its size and population, they do not force India to implement the UN resolutions or resolve the Kashmir dispute through bilateral talks. It should, however, be borne in mind that if larger and stronger countries continued to turn a blind eye to their cohorts`hegemonic ambitions, the dream to make the world a safer place to live would never come true.

In an article published in the Asian Age – an Indian daily, the writer had discussed the possibility of resolving the Kashmir issue on the lines of an agreement reached over Andorra in 1993 between France and Spain. Andorra is a co-principality situated on the border of Spain and France in the Pyrenees Mountains, and co-princes are Bishop of Urgel (Spain) and the French President. It joined the United Nations as a member state in 1993, and is recognized as a parliamentary democracy. The other proposal was to make Kashmir Valley an independent state, Jammu and Ladakh to remain under India`s control whereas Azad Kashmir and northern areas to remain under Pakistan`s control. But the problem is that whenever in Indo-Pak dialogue the point of resolution of Kashmir dispute came, India did something to foil the dialogue, as it happened after Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

In case, India continues to balk at resolving the Kashmir dispute, and does not reciprocate with Pakistan to reach a solution acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir the only way out for Pakistan would be to invoke the UN Security Council resolutions. The international community has to understand that Tashkant and Simla agreements were signed by Pakistan under duress. One should not ignore the fact that Article 103 of Chapter XVI of the UN Charter clearly states: “In the event of a conflict between the obligations of the members of the United Nations under the present Charter and any other international agreement, their obligation under the present charter shall prevail”.

India is focusing on confidence building measures to enhance people-to-people contact, cultural exchanges and economic cooperation, but these are not alternatives to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute over which both countries had three wars.
International community should, therefore, help resolve the Kashmir dispute to avert the impending disaster.

Author: Suddhan Sadaf Shareef

Kashmir: Nehru to Modi – What’s Changed?

By: Iqbal Jassat

Generations of Kashmir’s population have waited in vain for an end to India’s brutal military occupation and to celebrate their independence – finally as free people. Alas, seven decades have passed and the deep felt desire to stand proudly alongside free nations of the world, remains as elusive as ever.

Seventy years of struggle for a free, independent and sovereign Kashmir, have instead been marred by countless deaths, massacres, rapes and wanton destruction. And the story line is no different to that of other similar freedom struggles, whether in the past in South Africa or currently in Palestine. The occupiers are the villains and the occupied the victims.

As has been the case in South Africa’s epic battle against apartheid, the perpetrators of crimes, more specifically war crimes have been repressive state security institutions under the command of the executive.

Palestinians face a similar horrendous situation where the state, a settler colonial regime remains engaged in what can only be described as a perpetual orgy of ethnic cleansing.

Kashmir and its population are at the receiving end of India’s military. On orders from the powers seated in Delhi, the military has a single goal: crush the dreams of Kashmiris! And at any cost would be the orders.

Thus we see the devastation of broken limbs and shattered dreams. And tragically, zero accountability.

Narendra Modi struts the global stage hoping that hobnobbing with the Trumps, Netanyahus and other fellow rightwingers will enhance his public image as a statesman. Unfortunately for him, his reputation as a war monger precedes his current position as the leader of the world’s largest democracy.

Following the Gujarat massacres, Modi was placed on America’s list of terrorism and barred from travel there. The ban was lifted following his election to victory and overnight both the United States and the United Nations seemed to erase his deplorable human rights violations from memory.

Modi has cultivated an aura of invincibility amongst his millions of followers. His leadership of the BJP, an extremely right wing party, has placed him on a path to reclaim India as Hindustan, which evidently has had a devastating impact on Kashmir.

The BJP regularly argues that the policies it pursues in the Occupied Territory are not any different to that of the Indian Congress. In fact to deflect criticism of its harsh crackdown, Modi and the BJP insist that they are maintaining the same security measures as that of the previous government. Indeed they point to the historic dawn of independence from the British Empire, to justify current militarization of Indian troops in Kashmir.

Though there’s a huge gap between Modi and one of the leaders of the independence movement, Jawaharlal Nehru, many historians who have researched the issue of plebiscite on Kashmir, reveal how this fundamental pillar has been manipulated.

Shockingly, Nehru has been fingered as devious having arrived at an agreement with Pakistan on plebiscite in January 1949 and a cease-fire, merely “to buy time”.

The following excerpt by AG Noorani, a renowned authority on Kashmir  elucidates  the situation:

“Nehru had other plans. In private he had adamantly set his face against a plebiscite in 1947. In public, till 1954 he continued to make the most explicit – almost extravagant – and solemn pledge to hold a plebiscite. It was nearly fifty years later, in 1996, that the clue to Nehru’s entire Kashmir policy emerged, with the publication of Volume 22 of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru(SWJN)… Nehru wrote a secret note to Sheikh Abdullah, dated 25 August 1952, while camping at Sonamarg in Kashmir (SWJN Vol 22:32-30). It was one of the rare writings he authored – cogent, comprehensive, unemotional, yet destructive in the ruthless course it foreshadowed. Its thesis was: (1) the people did not matter; (2) the UN was powerless; (3) so was Pakistan, as ‘we are superior to Pakistan in military and industrial power’, which would acquiesce while India professed friendship all along; (4) the accession must be rendered non-provisional, it must be made final; (5) Kashmir’s leaders must banish doubt for ‘doubts in the minds of leaders percolate to their followers and to the people generally.’ There must be no debate or argument in future; accession is an accomplished and final fact, and nothing is going to unsettle it (vide Document 5).”

Such double talk has characterized India’s record of non-compliance and deplorable subjugation of Kashmir. Modi has excelled in brutality but in enforcing his government’s will has remained faithful to Nehru’s double standards.

It is admirable that as in Palestine, the population of Kashmir have remained resolute in their determination to resist occupation. Kashmir is a breathtakingly beautiful mountainous valley, surrounded by equally lush terrain. The land of Jammu, Muzafarabad, Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh borders Pakistan, Afghanistan, Xinjiang and parts of Tibet.

Just as Nehru assessed the geo-strategic importance of Kashmir, so too have all successive governments of India including the current incumbent Modi.

Iqbal Jassat
Twitter : @ijassat

Exec Member of Media Review Network


South Africa

China’s New Berlin Wall

 Written By: Rukiye Turdush
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The recent pilgrimage of Chinese government muslim delegation, including elderly Uyghurs and Hui Muslims to Saudi Arabia revealed how the Chinese government has tried to build a wall between free Uyghurs living outside China and the chained Uyghurs in East Turkistan. Uyghurs living in Saudi Arabia took to social media to describe how Uyghurs from East Turkistan who have recently come to Saudi for the annual Muslim pilgrimage are avoiding restaurants and shops belonging to Uyghurs. However, they report that Hui Muslims visited the Uyghurs living in Saudi.
One Uyghur taxi driver in Saudi said that Uyghurs who had just arrived for the Hajj pilgrimage looked very scared and immediately got off his taxi when they learned he was Uyghur and knew their language. They knew they would be punished by the Chinese government upon return to China for speaking with Uyghurs abroad. Let alone meeting or even saying hello to other Uyghurs when they travel abroad. This is because strict government surveillance and intensive spying makes it nearly impossible for Uyghurs to communicate with their loved ones online. All online communications are strictly censored and monitored by the Chinese government. In 2016, global watch dog Freedom House ranked China as “the world’s worst abuser of Internet freedom.”
To date, countless Uyghur writers, journalists, bloggers or other Uyghurs who try to reveal the truth by posting pictures or videos showing Chinese oppression are harshly punished and imprisoned. The World Uyghur Congress has published dozens of names that have been arrested, but that is only the tip of the ice berg as it is very difficult to get the exact number under such restrictions on information flow from the Chinese government.
Looks like no one is paying attention to China’s new kind of Berlin Wall that it is trying to create between the free world and the Chinese communist colony of East Turkistan, almost 30 years after the Berlin between East and West Berlin collapsed. From 1961 to 1989, during the existence of the Berlin Wall more than 5000 people tried to escape over the wall and over 200 were killed.
The number of sacrifices Uyghurs have made and the countless deaths that have occurred because of China’s new Berlin Wall is far beyond physical territorial border — it is both cyber and psychological.
The Chinese wall extends its border in every Uyghur’s brain. The wall can stick on every Uyghur and follow them wherever they go as it followed the Uyghurs who came to Saudi Arabia for the annual muslim pilgrimage. It not only tries to conquer the Uyghurs body but tries to conquer their thoughts, words, behaviours, and soul. Because, it is a wall between disappearance and survival; slavery and freedom; it is a wall between fear and bravery. The Berlin wall in Germany was made with stone and people tore that wall down with hand tools. However, China’s new Berlin wall is made with terror, it can be only thrown over with hearts for freedom. What did our ancestors say? Lose your money, lose your life, but not your heart.

Silent Prayer: The Chinese State’s Siege on Uyghur Ways of Worship

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Alice Su

The tomb of the Muslim saint Imam Asim lies in China’s Taklamakan Desert, at the end of a long walkway lined with poplar trees. An elevated mud structure, the shrine would easily be camouflaged by the sand if not for the flags, rams’ skulls and strips of cloth decorating it. It is located near the town of Hotan, in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, in the country’s northwest— the homeland of the Turkic-speaking Uyghur Muslim community. For centuries, Uyghur Sufis would journey through the desert between shrines such as this one, stopping at each to recite poems celebrating religious heroes.

“Chinese people don’t come here,” said Tudi Mohammad, a 50-year-old sheikh who is the shrine’s guardian. “It’s not a tourist site.”

Mohammad has lived near the shrine for most of his life; his father was also its guardian. He remembered how thousands of people would visit the shrine in May, when locals commemorated the anniversary of the saint’s death. But now, he said, the government has prohibited that ceremony, and Uyghurs come to the tomb in tens, at most. Before he could elaborate, a police car arrived at the shrine. Several personnel entered the building with large batons in hand, demanding that we leave.

Mohammad turned around and returned to his room near the shrine’s entrance, glancing pointedly at a security camera hanging above his door.
Xinjiang is one of China’s most politically tense regions, and the government maintains a heavy security presence here in the name of countering extremism and separatism. In June, China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper praising what it claimed were unprecedented levels of religious freedom for Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Its claims ring true at some level: select religious and cultural sites—including some state-constructed ones—are open and functioning. Others, however, such as the shrine of Imam Asim, are heavily policed. Some are even closed completely; the Orda Padishahim shrine, about 60 kilometres from the city of Kashgar, which used to attract hundreds of thousands of pilgrims annually, has been shut for a decade. When I told locals I hoped to visit the shrine, they said that doing so was illegal, and warned that I would be stopped by the police.

The crackdown on Uyghur places of worship is part of a larger programme of persecution of the minority group by the Chinese state. Uyghurs in schools or government offices are forbidden from wearing headscarves or fasting during Ramadan. Those under 18 years of age cannot enter mosques, young men cannot grow beards, and no one can wear clothing marked with a crescent moon. While these restrictions have existed for decades, their enforcement has intensified since 2009, after Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, was wracked by violent ethnic riots. In the wake of such repression, fear, militancy and ethnic strife have grown in Xinjiang.

When I visited the region in June, Ramadan celebrations were muted. Even in the mostly Uyghur city of Yarkand, the streets were nearly empty in the evenings and only one restaurant was open for iftar. Uyghur families filled the tables to share meals of carrot, raisin and lamb pilaf, pulled noodles in beef stew, yogurt pitchers and plates of fruit.

“It’s too quiet,” one Uyghur, a driver in his mid twenties, told me. He added that “the last few years have been bad,” and that before then, people would have been spilling out into the streets to break their fasts, but now they weren’t even leaving their houses. “The economy is down, but also, people are afraid.”

During Ramadan in 2014, ethnic riots broke out in Yarkand. According to Chinese state sources, at least 96 people were killed and 215 arrested when separatists attacked a police station. Local authorities’ discovery of suspicious explosives had prompted an extremist rampage, the state narrative went, as knife-wielding gangs terrorised the streets, burning cars, killing civilians and targeting government offices. In contrast, the US-sponsored Radio Free Asia reported that Chinese security forces massacred at least 2,000 Uyghurs after a violent riot over the extrajudicial killing of a Uyghur family that had disputed the headscarf restrictions.

Even after two years, the Uyghurs I met in Yarkand refused to tell me what had happened. But one Kashgar resident—a woman of the nationally dominant Han ethnicity—said that many more Uyghurs had been killed than the state sources acknowledged. “So many Han people left Yarkand after that,” she said. “They’re afraid of southern Xinjiang.” Even in Kashgar, she continued, clashes between Uyghurs and security forces are regular but usually go unreported. “The government wants people to settle here, so they want Xinjiang to seem safe. But you never know what will happen.”

Since the Urumqi riots, some Uyghurs have escalated their resistance tactics to the point of militancy. In 2013, a radical Uyghur Islamist group claimed responsibility for a car attack in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that killed five people. In 2014, hundreds of civilians were killed or injured over the course of several attacks, including a mass stabbing in Kunming and a bombing at a street market in Urumqi. In September 2015, knife-wielding attackers killed at least 50 civilians—mostly Han—at a coal mine in Aksu. Some radicals have pointed to state violence as a reason for their militancy. The May 2016 issue of the magazine of the Turkestan Islamic Party, which fights for the establishment of a fundamentalist Islamic state in Xinjiang, carried headlines that included “Crimes of the Chinese Communist Regime,” and “China has adopted controversial laws on the fight against terrorism.”

The state has adopted heavy-handed measures to stem such militancy. In November 2014, the prominent Uyghur intellectual Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of separatism, after he criticised Chinese policies in Xinjiang. In November 2015, Chinese security forces killed 28 Uyghurs who they claimed were criminals responsible for the Aksu attack. But Radio Free Asia again disputed this, saying that those killed included innocent women and children.

In everyday life, this crackdown can take the form of excessive police scrutiny. At a night market in Hotan, I saw Uyghurs and Han Chinese socialising, mostly speaking in Mandarin and eating each other’s versions of kebabs, dumplings and glutinous rice desserts. Yet police standing at the market entrance routinely searched passing Uyghurs, checking their IDs and mobile phones, all the while waving Han individuals through. One Uyghur policeman apologised to a Uyghur man as he was searched. “This is just policy,” he said. “We have to fill a quota of people that we’ve checked every day.” At least ten checkpoints exist on the 500-kilometre road between Hotan and Kashgar, where Uyghur travellers are thoroughly searched, and some forced to turn back.

This strict policing may not even be in the interest of the Chinese state. Rian Thum, a scholar who recently published a book on Uyghur pilgrimages in southern Xinjiang, noted that the forms of Islam practised in many of the community’s shrines have long been peaceful alternatives to more extremist ideologies. “Many people involved in nationalist movements were very anti-shrine,” Thum told me over the phone. “The reformist or even fundamentalist approaches to Islam saw shrine veneration as a type of shirk—associating other deities with God.” Ironically, suppressing such types of Islam may only make Uyghurs more susceptible to calls for violent resistance.

In Yarkand’s old-town area, I visited a state-designated tourist site: the mausoleum of Ammanishahan, a sixteenth-century queen famous for composing muqam—a type of traditional Uyghur opera. At the entrance, a sign read: “Great Mistress ad Poetress of Mukam Music: Ammanishahan’s Mausoleum,” in English, with adjacent translations in Mandarin and Uyghur. The mausoleum sat beside a garden filled with engraved white tombs. The Chinese government had spent 420,000 renminbi in 1993 to restore this site, an informational sign read. Ammanishahan’s muqams are “a jewel in the brilliant treasure chest of Chinese ethnic culture,” another added. One pair of Han tourists walked around the otherwise empty site, their 20-renminbi entrance tickets in hand.

But Uyghur visitors to Yarkand flock instead to the public Muslim cemetery, several minutes’ walk away from the mausoleum. There, I saw a stream of Uyghurs trickling in and out of the Chiltenmalik shrine, a towering brick structure housing the tombs of seven holy men. A sheikh sat cross-legged at the entrance, his eyes closed. When I asked my Uyghur guide whether Han tourists ever visited this site, he laughed. “No. This cemetery is a home for the homeless,” he said, pointing to a beggar sleeping inside an abandoned structure, and elderly Uyghurs panhandling amid rows of mud graves. He brought me to another tomb, several feet away from the shrine, its façade adorned with fading, centuries-old blue tiles. Its gate was padlocked, letting in only a sliver of light to reveal Arabic inscriptions on the walls. “The authorities closed this for security reasons, saying the building was too old and might injure visitors,” the guide said. “But no one has come to fix or open it for years.”