Uighurs Decry China's Demolition Campaign

June 23, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Islam Online


Muslim Uighur leaders denounced China's demolition of the Old City in Kashgar, an ancient city that symbolizes their long-preserved identity, urging the international community to intervene to save the city.

"Chinese authorities are no longer content to eradicate our language from schools and our religion from mosques," Rebiya Kadeer, the head of the Uighur American Association (UAA), said in a statement mailed to IslamOnline.net on Tuesday, June 23.

"Now they are physically tearing down our homes, our businesses and our places of worship."

Chinese authorities had given some 200,000 residents of the ancient cradle of Uighur culture until Thursday, June 18, to move out voluntarily before their houses are destroyed.

"Old City residents were given no opportunity to voice their opinion about the demolition project or their resettlement," Kadeer said.

It is not clear how much of the eight-square-kilometer City is left, but reports have documented the destruction of parts of the city and evacuation of residents to apartment blocks in an area just outside of Kashgar.

"In addition to being uprooted from their jobs, communities and centers of worship, residents have also reported that they have received inadequate compensation for their Old City homes," said the UAA.

Kashgar has long been noted as a political and commercial centre of Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority region autonomous since 1955.

Beijing views the vast region as an invaluable asset because of its crucial strategic location near Central Asia and its large oil and gas reserves.

Xinjiang and its Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of more than eight million, continue to be the subject of massive security crackdowns.