The East Turkistan Government-in-Exile, which represents the population of the occupied region, organized a protest and memorial observance on Saturday for the victims of China’s ongoing genocide in the region.
The government-in-exile, along with the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement hosted the event, which commemorated the 25th anniversary of the communist massacre of peaceful protesters in the northwest Turkistani city of Ghulja in 1997. China administers East Turkistan as the “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” home to the vast majority of the nation’s Uyghur population and several other Muslim-majority communities. The government-in-exile asserts that, like Tibet, East Turkistan is an occupied separate country with a distinct population, culture, and history from the Han-dominated government of China.
Under dictator Xi Jinping, China has enacted policies against the Uyghur populations that human rights groups and several countries, including the United States, have deemed a genocide. Since at least 2017, the Communist Party has been imprisoning Uyghurs and other Muslims in an extensive concentration camp system, limiting the population by forcibly sterilizing thousands of women, enslaving thousands of men, and indoctrinating children into communism and denying them Uyghur language education and basic knowledge of their families’ religions.
Repression of the Uyghur population, however, has gone on decades.
“On February 5, 1997, thousands of Uyghur, Kazakh, and other Turkic peoples of East Turkistan, unable to bear China’s decades-long oppression, took to the streets of Ghulja to peacefully demand freedom and independence for our country and its people,” organizers of the event explained. “Chinese security forces brutally crushed the demonstrations, leaving at least a hundred dead and thousands arrested.”
The anniversary of the massacre occurs as the world rewards the Communist Party with hosting duties for the 2022 Winter Olympics, an act which human rights activists and allies have denounced as grotesque given the behavior of the Chinese government. The event served as both a protest of the Olympics – which East Turkistani leaders have called to boycott – and a memorial for those killed and disappeared in Ghulja.
This livestream will begin when the event, scheduled for 11:30 am Eastern, starts.