China: Stop Destroying the Uyghur Economy!

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Torchlight Uyghur Group

 (Mesheluyghur@gmail.com)

This Petition Is Also Available In The Following Languages: Turkish (Turkçe)Uyghur (ئۇيغۇرچە), Uyghur Latinche, Uyghur Kirilche, Chinese (Traditional),Chinese (中文), French (Français),Russian(русский).

July 9th, 2018

The Uyghurs and their ancestors were the original founders of the famed Silk Road and they achieved magnificent economic success in the heart of Central Asia.  However, the Uyghurs have become the victims of reckless colonial plundering conducted by the Chinese government since it took over East Turkestan in 1949. Despite the fact that East Turkestan has abundant natural resources, the Uyghurs have been living in abject economic conditions under the colonial rule of the Chinese regime. The economic life of the Uyghur society has faced further catastrophic destruction since the Chinese government executed its plan to incarcerate millions of Uyghurs in Nazi-style concentration camps in April, 2017. 

(https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/an-emergency/ Now, making a money transaction with China is impossible not only for Uyghur traders and businessmen overseas, but also for Uyghur students abroad. Passports for all Uyghurs have been confiscated by the Chinese authorities and millions of Uyghur people, mostly from private sectors, were sent to the concentration camps.

 Mr. Bilge was a young Uyghur businessman based in a coastal city of China. He arranged his family to move to Istanbul, Turkey a few years ago as he was skeptical about the uncertain Chinese policy in East Turkestan. In the end of March, 2017, he suddenly lost contact with some of his close friends in Urumchi and decided to leave China for a while. As he stated, just one week after he left, numerous young Uyghur businessmen who were doing business between China and Turkey were detained at the Chinese airports on their way to Turkey or mysteriously disappeared. Mr. Bilge had luxury apartments and numerous investments in East Turkestan. He also lent money to some of his friends. He lost all of his investments and his businesses since he left China. His properties were frozen by the Chinese authorities. He conducted his business in a costal Chinese city to keep himself away from sensitive issues in East Turkestan long before he escaped from China. He suspects that many young Uyghur business people and his friends have been sent to jails or to one of the 33 concentration camps located in Urumchi after April, 2017. Although he lost almost everything, he still felt he was a lucky one surviving from the mass detention in East Turkestan. 

 Mr. Sevinch, a young Uyghur businessman who had businesses in some Middle Eastern countries, was called to come back to Urumchi for verifying something by the Chinese security agency when he was abroad. He was arrested immediately when he arrived at Urumchi airport and detained for more than two months for interrogation. He was a pro-government businessman and kept a Chinese business partner all the time for his safety. During his interrogation, he requested his Chinese business partner to return to Urumchi for being a witness. His Chinese partner came to Urumchi for Mr. Sevinch but he was so terrified by the conduct of the security agents during the interrogation that he fled the next day. Mr. Sevinch saved his own life by giving away all of his money to the authorities. However, he was rearrested after three days and sent to a concentration camp in Urumchi, according to his cousin living abroad.

 Numerous Uyghur entrepreneurs currently living abroad claimed that their bank accounts and assets have been frozen by the Chinese authorities since last year (2017). The Chinese authorities strongly encouraged and supported Uyghur business people to invest and expand their businesses in foreign countries in 2014 and 2015. The government even promised low interest loans for those who planned to invest overseas. Many Uyghur businessmen currently living abroad lost connections with their businesses and assets in East Turkestan since 2017. They are in such a desperate situation in that they can neither go back to their homeland fearing about being arrested nor they can live abroad peacefully. Those Uyghur businessmen who returned to East Turkestan after receiving government notice to come back are either missing or in Chinese concentration camps. Many businessmen who have never gone abroad were also arrested for having communicated with other people in foreign countries using WeChat (a Chinese instant messaging app).

 While expanding its economic influence internationally under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese regime has been destroying Uyghur economy domestically. The Chinese government is accelerating its policy to relocate young Uyghur people from East Turkestan to Eastern Chinese cities, while a massive influx of Han Chinese immigrants are coming to East Turkestan with huge government benefits. Tremendous amount of taxes and unreasonable government fees have ripped off Uyghur farmers and caused them to lose their farmlands. Uyghur farmers have been the subjects of forced labor for public works projects ever since the occupation of East Turkestan. As subjects of forced labor, Uyghur farmers are provided no compensation for their labor, no room or board, and are expected to pay for their own transportation and food. (http://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Forced_Labour_in_East_Turkestan-WUC.pdf

 Abdurahman Hasan, an Uyghur businessman currently living in Turkey, has openly criticized the Chinese government’s abuse of the human rights in East Turkestan, despite all of the potential dangers that his family members and his business may face from the Chinese government. “I ask the Chinese government to execute my mother and my wife, and I will pay for the bullets!” he declared after learning that his mother and wife were suffering in a Chinese concentration camp in Kashgar.

(https://freedomsherald.wordpress.com/2018/01/21/china-execute-my-mother-and-my-wife-instead-i-will-pay-for-the-bullets/ ) Jurat Jumahun, a French national Uyghur businessman who livid abroad more than 20 years was harassed by the Chinese authorities when he visited East Turkestan in 2017 . He told a journalist that he had the trouble only because he was an Uyghur. (https://www.rfa.org/uyghur/xewerler/kishilik-hoquq/uyghur-sodiger-10302017145437.html

 A significant numbers of well-known Uyghur businessmen and entrepreneurs were frequently detained recent years for unknown reasons or simply disappeared. Radio Free Asia reported recently that Chinese authorities jailed the four wealthiest ethnic Uyghurs in Kashgar city for acts of “religious extremism,” according to an official, amid a crackdown he said is unlikely to end any time soon. A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Abdujelil Hajim, Gheni Haji, Memet Tursun Haji, and Imin Hajim — all successful business owners in Kashgar — were taken into custody in May 2017. Abdujelil Hajim, who was the Chairman of the Kashgar Prefectural Trade Association and owner of a firm that transports goods between China, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, as well as large tracts of property in Kashgar and Urumchi, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Gheni Haji, the owner of the Emin Trading Plaza at Kashgar’s Sunday Market; Memet Tursun Haji, owner of Eziz Diyar Plaza at the same market; and Imin Hajim, owner of the Ibnsina Dental Facility, were each sentenced to eight years in jail, according to the source.

(https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/wealthiest-01052018144327.html?searchterm:utf8:ustring=Uyghur+business

 Obulkasim Haji, one of the wealthiest businessmen, the 67-year-old owner of the Kasir Hotel in Kashgar and father of five, was taken into custody and sent to a “political re-education camp,” a source recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity. (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/hotelier-05072018130431.html?searchterm:utf8:ustring=Uyghur+business

 According to the Chinese government statistics, the number of private business entities had reached to 701,000 by end of the year 2012 and medium size private companies were 117,000. The number of business owners was 584,000. The most of the medium and small businesses were owned by the Uyghurs in East Turkestan. However majority of these companies disappeared or stopped their business now. The website for Uyghur entrepreneurs, www.uyuxma.com has not been updated since October, 2017. The “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Foreign Trade Association” held its annual conference on January 5, 2018 to celebrate huge success in exporting in 2017. Among more than 60 member enterprises there was not a single company owned by Uyghurs. (http://www.iyaxin.com/content/201801/06/c202529.html

 A documentary published recently by Russian traveller Igor Putilof shows that the streets of Kashgar have become empty and silent with the absence of street vendors and the closure of most Uyghur businesses. Kashgar had been the most crowded Uyghur city and the most prosperous business center in East Turkestan for centuries.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNjPZsKckn4

At the moment, however, many Uyghur small business owners were forced to close their businesses because the Chinese authorities posed more taxes on them or their business activities discontinued after the owners were sent to the Chinese concentration camps.

 The economic development and massive financial projects that the Chinese government has carried out in recent decades did not bring any benefits to the owners of the affluent land, East Turkestan. The Chinese government and Bingtuan, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, controlled all sources of wealth and the most fruitful lands in East Turkestan since 1954. “Land reclamation and infrastructure projects that support reclamation, particularly Bingtuan projects, have led to increased Han settlement of traditional Uyghur areas,” said Darren Byler, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who specializes in Uyghurs.  In traditional Uyghur centers such as Hotan City, Han have taken up residence in the wealthiest areas and their presence has already changed the traditional rhythm of urban life, which used to be dictated by Uyghur culture.

(https://www.ft.com/content/60fbc746-1d34-11e8-956a-43db76e69936

 Profitable industries such as precious metal mining and oil production, foreign trades, financial institutions, telecommunications have been rejecting Uyghurs to join and Uyghurs have remained unemployed in their own land. The traditional economy and local industries were destroyed by the government and Chinese immigrants. In recent years, the Chinese government issued some regulations to restrict Uyghur goldsmiths and jewelers to have their own production lines. The Uyghur medicine was one of main traditional industries in Uyghur society and traditional Uyghur doctors were asked to have a new medical license in recent years. Since the exams for the new license were in Chinese, the most of the traditional doctors failed and lost their licenses.

 Now, the Uyghurs are totally banned from traveling abroad or sending money to other countries.  All passports have been confiscated and money transaction and postal services have been controlled by the Chinese government. The Chinese consulates abroad suspended their services to renew passports for Uyghurs living abroad. A mass incarceration and Nazi-style Chinese concentration camps have ruined millions of Uyghurs’ business and economic life. 

 We, the Uyghurs, at the moment are in our fight against the Chinese government’s atrocities, and cannot fight this battle for our survival alone.  We need the support of all the justice-loving people in the world.  If tens of thousands of people from around the world sign our petition, it may be possible that the United Nations will make a commitment and will act to stop the tragedy that the Uyghur people are facing today.

 Please join us in our fight to end the appalling atrocities happening in East Turkestan. Please spread the word so that people around the world could learn about such a great tragedy that is happening in East Turkestan. Please sign and share this petition. Thank you!   

You can find more information from the following sites:

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http://blog.freedomsherald.org
http://freedomsherald.org/ET/unb/

Uyghur Torchlight Group’s previous petitions:
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