Turkestan! Is everything a big fat lie? - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

Turkestan! Is everything a big fat lie?

China, which is the most crowded country in the world and has the second largest economy and is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has been accused of serious crimes for the last six months. The possibility that China, which is not as influential today as expected despite its population, enormous producing power and economy, will become the world’s most powerful country by the 2050s is bothering sovereign countries, especially the U.S.

China, which shows up in every region and field the U.S. is present, is becoming influential in many areas thanks to the no-strings-attached policy it follows in its relations with its partners. Being the biggest rival of sovereign powers and its potential power to assume world leadership leads to some conspiracies and interstate ploys being set up against it.

In the first week of November, the UN Human Rights Commission criticized the policies applied against the Uyghur and Hui Muslims, as well as the Tibetans and other minorities, and especially China’s practice to keep over one million Muslim Uyghur Turks in camps with the excuse of “re-educating” them. China rejected these criticisms and said that they “are politically channeled.”

It is known that the UN is not very just and it acts like a pawn of the U.S., as in the example of the occupation of Iraq, making scandalous decisions based on forged and fake documents. If we disregard China’s responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council, we may assume that China’s recent objections are valid.

Is China on the target board?

Then, are the complaints coming from all over the world, the cries that have ricocheted across the globe, and the claims that have targeted humanity all groundless? Or according to some claims, are they just U.S. propaganda?

West or East, Turkestan has been suffering greatly since the 19th century due to China’s assimilation policies, the deprivation of their rights and the inhumane treatment they have been subjected to.

To this day, I haven’t met any person from Turkestan, whether they are the authors of the books I have read or people I have met in person, who is happy and who is not complaining. It is a reality that these kinds of problems created by the nation-state paradigm are being experienced by different people under similar circumstances. However, their determination to fight against these problems, some regimes’ flexibility to transform or international pressures produced partial solutions to these problems in many places. However, no one has ever heard the cries of the people of Turkestan who were living under the closed regimes like the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Perhaps just like today, no one wanted to listen to them. However, the truth is out in the open now. Particularly, it is not possible to now present the latest policies of China as propaganda of the U.S., which is a country actually targeting China, or the channeling of the UN.

I haven’t met anyone from Turkestan who is happy

I swear to God, independent from all these sentiments, claims, and the objections of China’s lobbies in our country, since the 1980s I haven’t met anyone from Turkestan who is happy. These people from West and East Turkestan who have been scattered all around the world have always been telling the same stories: oppression, cruelty, torture, prisons, exile, and escape.

I haven’t met the President of Bukhara, Osman Hodja, who died in exile in our country, but I worked at the same place with his son: the honorable scientist Timur Kocaoğlu. Despite everything he had, he would become unhappy when he thought of the past. I wasn’t so close with the late İsa Alptekin, one of the leaders of East Turkestan, but I have listened to the oppression happening in East Turkestan in Istanbul in the year 1995 from him. More importantly, I met İ. Kurban, who was forced to live in Chinese prisons and camps for about thirty years and with whom I worked together after he escaped to Turkey and was accepted at Marmara University with İsa Alptekin’s reference. He was among those who reflected his unhappiness and what he had told us in his memoirs.

I had the chance to meet the son of the great scholar of Turkestan, Mübeşşir et Tırazi, who lived in different countries, finally settling in Egypt, after he escaped Soviet oppression and finally settled in Egypt. Nasrullah et Tırazi, who dedicated his life to studying Ottoman history and Ottoman monuments as well as teaching the history of Turkestan in Egypt, wasn’t happy either. Nasrullah et Tırazi who lived a resigned life despite what his family had been through, was bitter in his humble house in Cairo for not being able to leave his mother tongue, Turkish, to his children as a legacy. Because of this, he was depressed and unhappy.

I had a friend in the 80s who spent most of his life in prison and introduced me to the great poet Abdurrahim Ötkür, and also tried to teach me the Uyghur language through Ötkür’s novel, İz. Fate brought us together in another country. He was missing Turkey, but since he was banned from entering the country after he escaped from China he was not able to come back. After that, he returned to China, and I haven’t heard from my dear friend since then. This friend of mine, who never smiled during the day despite all the goodness that was reflected in his face, was shedding tears during the night for the future of his people, his religion and his generation.

I can give many other vivid examples like these. Moreover, these are from those times when the U.S. didn’t even care about China, meaning that there was no need for conspiracies of rivalry. To keep it short, no matter what people are doing and why they are doing it, it should be known that Muslim Uyghurs are being oppressed in East Turkestan just because of their identity. Ignoring this because of any excuse means taking part in this oppression.

If there are good relations between Turkey and China and if both sides are considering great partnerships in the future, it is only natural that Muslim Uyghur Turks are at the center of these relations and that they will continue to be so. Their outcry cannot fall victim to these relations. It is China’s job to explain the difference between the excuses it makes that there are “separatist, terrorist, and radical” groups and their actions and the oppression of nearly two million people in “education” camps, and it is their job convince the world public opinion, not ours!


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