Saving the Uyghurs

by Nathan Hamm on 5/12/2005

Yesterday, NRO posted an opinion piece by the president of the Uyghur American Association, Nury Turkel* advocating the Uyghur cause. Though no one really needs any reminder, the situation is atrocious (reading the State Department report, I wonder if certain folks would declare China “beyond the pale”).

Turkel summarizes the situation, but also mentions glimmers of hope–one of which is quite interesting.

There are a few glimmers of hope for Uyghurs. In early 2004, the National Endowment for Democracy, the American lifeline for dissidents worldwide, gave my organization, the Uyghur American Association, a grant to begin human-rights research to document human-rights abuses against Uyghurs. In November 2004, Rebiya Kadeer, a Uyghur businesswoman, was awarded the Rafto prize, a prestigious human-rights award. Kadeer was arrested in 1997 while on her way to brief a U.S. congressional delegation on Uyghur human rights. She was finally released by the Chinese authorities on March 17, 2005, on “medical parole,” but it was the continued pressure exerted on the Chinese government by the United States and international human-rights organizations — culminating in Secretary of State Rice’s visit to Beijing — that truly led to Kadeer’s release.

In the past few weeks, the resignation of Kyrgyzstan President Askar Akayev — one of China’s main allies in the persecution of Uyghurs — in the “Tulip Revolution” became the most significant source of hope in recent years for Uyghurs suffering under the oppression of the PRC.

The hope that the new Kyrgyz government will be more protective of its native Uyghur population and refugees is common among Uyghur human rights activists.

While we’re on the subject, don’t miss this or this.

* I wonder if Studs knows his name is Uyghur…

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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