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Eastern Turkestan, mostly known in the West as Xinjiang, and Tibet have become a scene of several armed clashes, disputes and street demonstrations in recent years, months and weeks.
The Chinese claim that "elements abroad are inciting separatist sentiments." The Chinese have always blamed others for the disturbances in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet. In the 1950s the Chinese accused "the American and British imperialists" for the disturbances and in the 1950s they started to blame the "Soviet hegemonists." Now they are blaming His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Isa Yusuf Alptekin.
The Chinese have never thought for a minute that their unjust rule in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet might have touched off all these conflicts and demonstrations.
What caused these peaceful nations of almost 15 million to rise against a super-power of one billion risking the danger of a total annihilation?
The answer is that the Uighurs and the Tibetans, who played an important role in the history of Central Asia for many centuries, are being forced to choose between national extinction through gradual assimilation and a mortal struggle to defend their identity by heroic resistance.
Ethnic groups living under the threat of losing their national identity tend to have stronger feelings of nationalism. To speed up the sinicisation of the Ugyurs and the Tibetans, the Chinese have given Chinese names to their countries, cities and languages.
However, at present the steady flow of Chinese settlers, mixed marriages encouraged by the Chinese leaders, and coercive birth control pose the biggest threats to the survival of the Uighurs and the Tibetans.
Self-rule aside, today, the long promised "equality" in the true sense has not been established. Despite Eastern Turkestan and Tibet's natural wealth, the Uighur and the Tibetans live at subsistence level, with almost 80 percent living below the poverty line, 50 dollars per head.
There is no unemployment among the Chinese settlers in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet, but among the Uighurs and the Tibetans the unemployment rate is almost 90 percent. Another reason for the poverty in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet is that the Chinese are transporting to mainland China all the resources of those two countries, including uranium, gold, and petroleum. To cite one example, in the first quarter of 1989, Eastern Turkestan sent 7.68 million barrels of crude oil, 906 thousand tons of coal, 444 thousand tons of raw salt, and 70 percent of Eastern Turkestan's cotton to Shanghai, Xian and Peking.
According to a 1987 report to the Peking government by Eastern Turkestan and Qinghai Public Relations Office, hundreds of Uighurs in the southern part of Eastern Turkestan and in Amdo, Tibet's northeastern province, are dying of starvation.
The Chinese leaders claim that importance has been given to education, but the rate of illiteracy among Uighurs and Tibetans is still very high. Most of the scholars doing research in scientific fields are Chinese. They write books on Uighur and Tibetan history, culture, civilisation, archeology, folklore, traditions and so on.
All these publications have one aim: to falsify history in order to prove that Eastern Turkestan and Tibet belong to China from the time of the stone age, and to undermine the Uighur and Tibetan beliefs, culture and civilisations.
The unjust rule of the Chinese, the economic exploitation, and the policy of assimilation are the main sources of present armed clashes and demonstrations in Eastern Turkestan and Tibet.
If the Free world fails to take immediate protective steps, the peoples of Eastern Turkestan and Tibet, who have contributed so much to the world civilisation, will disappear in the coming decades.
- Tibetan Bulletin: May-June I99I