I'm assuming most people reading this blog by now have heard about the Uyghur "uprising" in Xinjiang (China). I've been following the news, and can't say that I'm really surprised by what's happening. For the past couple years I've referred to Xinjiang as the lesser-known version of Tibet (except the Uyghur are Muslim, not Buddhist), perhaps lesser-knwon due in part to the fact that the Uyghur don't have a popular equivalent of the Dalai Lama (though Rebiya Kadeer may play a similar role).
It's been interesting to follow the news, especially after Sweden kicked out a Chinese ambassador a few weeks back following the arrest of a Chinese-Uyghur spy.
In any case, there is an interesting letter posted at The New Dominion by a tourist who happened to be in Kashgar, and thus had a different allowance in what they were able to see compared to foreign journalists. Here's an excerpt from the letter:
The next day martial law came. The Uyghurs gathered in the Id Kah Mosque to protest the arrests, as well as the destruction of their city, etc. I was pretty close to the Id Kah Mosque. I heard the loud sounds, the screams, and honestly, the screams of people in great physical suffering. There was a stampede, and I knocked over a bunch of watermelons but got back to the hotel (the merchant didn’t hold it against me). The army marched in and all the Uyghur shops in the city were told that they would close for three days (the Chinese of the city were either leaving or behind locked doors). All the mosques were closed and the Uyghurs were clearly scared. Trucks with loudspeakers circled around the Old City, proclaiming: “Always listen to the Communist Party. Hate separation.” The Chinese news interviewed Uyghur women who happily said things like “Xinjiang has always been part of China for 2000 years. Uyghurs are Chinese, one of 55 minority groups. We hate independence and love the motherland.”
The police were just kind of amazed I was there, which is probably why they didn’t make me leave. One happily asked me if I had been to Shanghai yet. God. I asked a police officer what he thought of the situation, and he was optimistic, said that everything was going to be fine. He concluded by saying, “You know, in the next ten years, we’ll just send more Han here and that’ll just end the problem once and for all.”
Kashgar was amazing, and I’m glad I went. I wouldn’t tell anyone else to go to Kashgar in the future though, because I know that the Old City is going to be gone before next Christmas. Uyghur culture and Uyghur language are beautiful to hear and study, as all things become as they slowly disappear.