Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 2

Published by Eastern Turkestan Union in Europe

Eastern Turkestan Information Bulletin Vol. 1 No. 2 (July 1991)

Toward the end of the 19th century and into the first decades of the 20th, scientific and archeological expeditions to the region of Eastern Turkestan's Silk Road discovered numerous cave temples, monastery ruins, wall paintings, as well as valuable miniatures, books and documents. Explorers from Europe, America and even Japan were amazed by the art treasures to be found there, and soon their reports were capturing the attention of an interested public around the world. These relics of Uygur culture today constitute major collections in the museums of Berlin, London, Paris, Tokyo, Leningrad and the Museum of Central Asian Antiquities in New Delhi. Together with the manuscripts and documents discovered in Eastern Turkestan reveal the very high degree of civilization attained by the Uygurs.
Throughout the centuries Uygurs have used three different scripts. Confederated with the Kok Turks in the 6th and 7th centuries, they used the Orkhun script. Later they adopted what became known as the Uygur script. This script was used for almost 800 years not only by the Uygurs, but also by other Turkic peoples, Mongols, and by the Manchus in the early stage of their rule in China. After embracing Islam in the 10th century the Uygurs adapted the Arabic alphabet, and its use became common in the 11th century.
Most of the early Uygur literary works were translations of Buddhist and Manichean religious texts, but there were also narrative, poetic and epic works. Some of these have been translated into German, English and Russian.
After embracing Islam the Uygurs continued to preserve their cultural dominance in Central Asia. World renowned Uygurs scholars emerged, and Uygur literature flourished. Among the hundreds of important works surviving from this era are the Kutat-ku Bilik by Yusuf Has Hajip (1069-70), Mahmud Kashgari's Divan-i Lugat-it Turk, and Ahmet Yukneki's Atbetul Hakayik.
The Uygurs had an extensive knowledge of medicine and medical practice. Sung Dynasty (906-960) sources indicate that an Uygur physician, Nanto, traveled to China and brought with him many kinds of medicine not known to the Chinese. There are 103 different herbs for use in Uygur medicine recorded in a medical compendium by Li Shizhen(1518-1593), a Chinese medical authority. Tatar scholar Professor Rashid Rahmeti Arat in Zur Heilkunde der Uighuren (Medical Practices of Uygurs) published in 1930 and 1932, in Berlin, discussed Uygur medicine. Relying on a sketch of a man with an explanation of acupuncture, he and some Western scholars suspect that acupuncture was not a Chinese, but an Uygur discovery.
Uygurs were also advanced in fields such as architecture, art, music and printing the Uygurs were also advanced. Western scholars who have studied Uygur history, culture and civilization have often expressed a high regard for the cultural level of the Uygurs. For instance, according to Ferdinand Sassure, Those who preserved the language and written culture in Central Asia were the Uygurs." Albert von Lecoq wrote, The Uygur language and script contributed to the enrichment of civilizations of the other peoples in Central Asia. Compared to the Europeans of that time the Uygurs were far more advanced. Documents discovered in Eastern Turkestan prove that an Uygur farmer could write down a contract, using legal terminology. How many European farmers could have done that at that period? This shows the extent of Uygur civilization of that time. Prof. Dr. Laszlo Rasonyi wrote, the Uygurs knew how to print books centuries before Gutenberg invented his press. In the judgment of Prof. Dr. Wolfram Eberhard, in the MiddleAges, Chinese poetry, literature, theatre, music and painting were greatly influenced by the Uygurs.
Chinese envoys such as Hsuan Chang, Wang Yen De and Chang Chun who traveled through Eastern Turkestan from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries reported that they were impressed by the high degree of Uygur power, prestige and culture they encountered there.
Wang Yen De, who served as an ambassador to the Karakhoja Uygur Kingdom between the years 981 and 984, wrote in his memoirs: "I was impressed with the extensive civilization I found in the Uygur Kingdom. The beauty of the temples, monasteries, wall paintings, statues, towers, gardens, houses and the palaces built throughout the kingdom cannot be described. The Uygurs are very skilled in handicrafts of gold and silver, vases and potteries. Some say God has infused this talent into this people only."
This Uygur power, prestige, and culture dominated Central Asia for more than 1000 years went into a steep decline after the Manchu invasion of Eastern Turkestan, and during the rule of the Nationalist and especially the Communist Chinese.
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The Turkish Literary Foundation in Istanbul organized a Gratitude Day for Isa Yusuf Alptekin, a 90-year-old Eastern Turkestani leader in exile, to thank him for his struggle for human rights, democracy and the self-determination of his people. Turkish ministers, scholars, intellectuals and other Turkic representatives living in Turkey and abroad attended the ceremony.
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CULTURAL EVENING HELD The Eastern Turkestan Cultural and Relief Organization in Kayseri, Turkey, held a cultural evening. Eastern Turkestani leader Isa Yusuf Alptekin, Turkic representatives and almost ten thousand local people attended the evening. Mehmet Canturk, chairman of the Eastern Turkestan Cultural and Relief Organization, said in his speech that the people of Eastern Turkestan are faced with sinification. There is a deliberate attempt to destroy the language, religion and culture of the Eastern Turkestani people. Tonight, we are gathered here to show you some of the relics of the folklore of the unfortunate Eastern Turkestani people.
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The Urumchi Uygur Muqam Assembly visited Germany giving concerts in Munich, Berlin, Bochum, Bonn and Cologne. On the eve of the concert in Munich, Regina Gelber, a leading correspondent of the Bavarian Radio and TV, interviewed Asgar Can, the Secretary General of Eastern Turkestan Cultural and Social Association (ETCSA) in Munich, on Uygur history, culture and civilization.
In a second interview, Regina Gelber criticized the Chinese authorities for not allowing the Urumchi Uygur Muqam Assembly to attend a dinner party arranged by the Uygurs living in Munich. In her broadcast Regina Gelber said, According to Uygur tradition, it is very impolite if the Uygurs living in Munich had not invited their visiting ethnic brothers and sisters. Thus, the Uygurs in Munich rented a restaurant and prepared special dishes for their guests of honor. Although the Urumchi Uygur Muqam Assembly had previously said that they would be flattered to attend the dinner party, at the last minute the Chinese authorities accompanying the troop did not allow them to go. What made the Chinese authorities prevent the Urumchi Uygur Muqam Assembly from attending the dinner party? Was it that they were afraid that the Uygurs under their control would be influenced by the self-determination movements throughout the world, or that some one might find out the truth about the June 1990 uprising in Eastern Turkestan Or did it, perhaps, have something to do with the International Tibet Year throughout the world?
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China's state-owned oil company and the Japan National Oil Corp. signed an agreement to explore for oil in the Tarim Basin, believed to hold world's largest untapped oil deposits. The Japanese company will provide 60 million dollars for the joint project in Eastern Turkestan. The Chinese and Japanese oil corporations will organize joint prospecting teams for geological and geophysical surveys in a 30,000 square km area over the next 4.5 years. Officials estimate the Tarim Basin holds more than 18 billion tons of oil, about one-seventh of China's reserves.
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Uygurs living in USSR held their Second National Conference in Alma Ata, Kazakhistan. The Conference was organized by the Uygur Institute in the Academy of Kazakh Social Science. Besides local Uygurs scholars from Soviet Central Republics, Eastern Turkestan and the Uygur scholars living abroad and scholars from Turkey, Europe and the United States were invited. The aim of the conference was to bring together all scholars who are doing research on Uygur history, culture and civilization, to inform each other on their studies and to establish coordination among them.
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Soviet Uygur Newspaper Uygur Avazi (The Voice of Uygurs), published in Alma Ata, Kazakhistan, has started serializing the history book entitled The Uygur People.
The Uygurs, written by Turgun Almas, an Uygur scholar living in Eastern Turkestan, along with two other books, entitled The Huns and Uygur Literture, although printed by a Chinese government printing house, were banned by Chinese authorities on the grounds that these books have brazenly advocated independence, agitated for splitting the country, harmed the ethnic unity and damaged the unity of the motherland.
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Tomur Dawamet, the governor of so-called Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said during a press conference held in Beijing that the small number of splittists in Eastern Turkestan could not get anywhere despite their support by hostile forces abroad.
Answering a question raised by a Hong Kong reporter whether the hostile forces mentioned include Isa Yusuf Alptekin living in Turkey, Dawamet said, I did not want to identify the person which you have named. Now that you have named him I have to say something about him.
"Isa has always advocated his so-called Eastern Turkestan independence and his basic idea remains unchanged so far," he said, adding we definitely oppose the acts of Isa and his followers.
The situation on the border with the USSR is "very stable" and the authorities in Eastern Turkestan, which borders Kazakhistan, Kirghizistan and Tajikistan, strictly monitor arms trafficking, he replied to another question.
While Chinese authorities have rarely allowed foreign journalists into Eastern Turkestan in the last two years, Dawamet claimed they are "welcome" there. But he immediately used the remoteness of the region, located more than 2,000 kilometers from Beijing, to justify the policy.
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The Chinese magazine, Zheng kng, published in Hong Kong, wrote in its July 1, 1991 issue, that armed rebellions had taken place in May and June in Chogchek, close to the USSR in Northern Eastern Turkestan. The aims of these rebellions were said to be independence, the right to organize political parties and the localization of troops.
According to the information a city government building was occupied by armed crowds for 36 hours and demands were made to hand over power.
The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), brought from Urumchi, surrounded the crowds and fierce gun fighting erupted. According to official reports over 140 East Turkestanis were either killed, wounded, arrested or surrendered. Chogchek has remained closed to tourists from outside cities since 20 May.
On June 11 and 12 3000 people gathered before the city government building in Bole City and demonstrated for the democratic election of Bole leaders. By the afternoon of June 12 demonstrators had set fire to and begun stoning Government buildings. The city was placed under martial law.
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During an interview with a reporter from an Urumchi TV network, Lieutenant General Hamit Tursun, the deputy political commissar of Eastern Turkestan Military District, said that the military had four important tasks to fulfill in Eastern Turkestan, but the most important was defense of the borders. He said, "Armed forces stationed in Xinjiang must be aware of the great strategic significance of Xinjiang, which shares 6,400-km long boundaries with six countries. This being the case, while defending the border areas, our armed forces must safeguard the peaceful labor of people in Xinjiang."
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Dong Yangyu, Public Security Director of Eastern Turkestan, said during a recent interview with the Beijing publication Remnin Gongan Bao that the struggle for and against splittism has always existed in Eastern Turkestan. Moreover, he added, the relaxation of political and ideological education over the last few years had made the struggle against national splittism more complicated.
According to Dong Yangyu, a handful of intellectuals stubbornly clinging to their national separatist positions and people carrying out national separatist activities disregard the facts and deny the historical fact of the formation and development of harmonious relationships among all nationalities in China, and the flesh and blood ties among them. In order to split the region they resort to rumor mongering to confuse and poison people's minds. On the other hand, hostile forces outside the borders send their men to the region to carry out activities in a vain attempt to collaborate with domestic hostile forces and stir up trouble. The Chinese official concluded that there were, however, more favorable conditions and a more powerful force for safeguarding the motherland's unity and opposing national splittism than ever before.
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Seyfeddin Azizi, Vice Chairman of National Peoples Congress (NPC), was quoted in an interview with the Beijing daily Renmin Ribao, as saying, "It is necessary to correctly implement the Party's religious policy. There is freedom of religion: those who believe in religion must be not forced to give it up, while those who do not believe in religion must not be forced to accept it. We will not tolerate anyone who opposes socialism and who hampers the motherland's unity through religious activities. In some places, some people carry out illegal religious activities. Here, there exists the problem that they are scrambling with us for the next generation and the question of what sorts of people we will bring up. Carrying out illegal religious activities is, in practice, leading normal religious beliefs astray. Communists must not believe in religion. They should study and propagate Marxism, and should teach cadres and the masses with dialectical materialism. Xinjiang should pay attention to addressing this question."
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The city government of The Hague offered Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organizatlon (UNPO) a prestigious office building in a beautiful part of The Hague, in the Netherlands.
After a press conference, the building was inaugurated by the Lord Mayor of The Hague and Erkin Alptekin, the Vice Chairman of UNPO, an Uygur living abroad.
During the inauguration ceremony, Alptekin said: In the profound conviction that this building will house the just voice of almost five thousand nations and peoples who are not represented in the United Nations, hereby I would like to inaugurate this prestigious building.
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ETI is published by the East Turkestan Cultural and Social Association, Nanga-Parbat Str. 17A, 8000 Munich, Germany, Asgar Can, Editor. All inquiries and contributions should be addressed to the editor.

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Last updated 06/29/99