East Turkistan and Tibet independence will benefit India as well, says Najmidin Shirif, Secretary, East Turkistan Republican Party.
New Delhi: Prior to the Chinese occupation in 1949, East Turkistan was an independent state. The East Turkestan Republican Party is an influential political party among the Uyghurs fighting for the establishment of an independent East Turkistan. The Sunday Guardian spoke to its Secretary, Najmidin Shirif, after US President Donald Trump passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, 2020. Excerpts:
Q: Why is the East Turkistan Republican Party relevant and important when we discuss China and the Uyghurs?
A: The entire Uyghur people are eager to live in a completely independent country. The East Turkistan Republican Party is the first Uyghur political party that represents the Uyghurs’ aspirations for independence, to make East Turkistan an independent UN member state and to mobilise the entire population to participate in politics. The East Turkistan Republican Party, which is currently promoting full democracy within the Uyghurs, is likely to play a key role in China-US relations and the political future of East Turkistan. From the point of view of China being the second largest economy in the world, the East Turkistan Republican Party is very important because it aims to make East Turkistan, which makes up one-third of China’s natural resources, an independent republic, which will strive for political and economic balance in the future.
Q: US President Donald Trump recently signed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, 2020. Why do you believe it is a very important step for the future of Uyghurs?
A: The 2020 Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act involves the two most powerful economies in the world—the United States and China. After the passing of this Act, the issue of genocide against the Uyghurs has now gone beyond being just a regional and ethnic issue. It is not only about the security of the Uyghurs, but also about the regional and international security. The law is expected to have an impact on protecting the relatives of 15,000 people who are in the United States; it will ensure the safety of Uyghur families and will punish the Chinese individuals and groups who have been actively involved in the genocide against the Uyghurs. As a neighbour of China, India’s strategic position on this issue will also become more important from now.
Q: Should India, too, do something similar? And, if yes, then why?
A: China’s rivalry with the United States is an opportunity for India to participate in maintaining the world’s democratic values as one of the world’s largest democratic powers. If India follows the United States in passing the anti-genocide law in Tibet and East Turkistan, it will be an important symbolic step towards India’s protection of human rights, human life and justice and, on the other hand, it will strengthen India’s position in the region and the world by restricting China. It will also help in boosting political ties with the United States. India has done a good job of acting as a good neighbour by helping the Tibetan people a lot. India’s adoption of such a law to help the Uyghurs will complement and strengthen its strategy on the Tibet issue, while proving India is a country that always stands for justice. We hope that the Indian government will not neglect the East Turkistan issue. When the time comes, we will propose a bill for the people of East Turkistan that will help India jointly deal with the Chinese threat in the future.
Q: Why are you and your party pushing for an independent East Turkistan? And which are the Chinese areas that you seek to be a part of it?
A: China’s occupation of Tibet and East Turkistan is a challenge to the world’s conscience and legal justice system. The territory of East Turkistan and Tibet is a land occupied by the Chinese. These two were never part of China and they do not want to be a part of China in the future. China has no legal status to govern them. The Chinese have carried out genocide against Tibetans and people of East Turkistan. People of East Turkistan and Tibetans have realised that there will never be peace under China’s false, hypocritical, evil and racist policies. The independence of East Turkestan and Tibet will be beneficial for the whole world, including India.
Q: India and China are engaged in a border stand off which has taken place due to China’s intention of slicing away India’s territory and adding to its own. How do you, as someone who has been following the working of Chinese government closely, see this?
A: The image of the conflict between China and India is impacting the conscience of individuals and this in turn will impact China’s export products and even their place in the world’s political diplomacy. India is a country that is completely different from China. China believes in centralizing power and monopolising the economy through the state. India should study the positive impact of China’s disintegration for its own strategic interests.
Q: The Uyghur population that has been carrying the resistance and the separatist movement against the Chinese government seeking an independent East Turkistan, are based across different countries, especially in Europe. How influential are these people as a pressure group when it comes to forcing the other countries to call out the wrongdoings by China?
A: The “Chinese dream” is to move from a single-polar state controlled by the United States to a multi-polar state which will have the United States, China, and the European Union.
Many countries around the world have acknowledged the Chinese government’s illegal occupation of East Turkestan and Tibet, but they have not included the disintegration of China in their national strategy. It is because of this that political groups, including our party, are unable to play their role effectively. We hope that countries who stand by justice will assist us in furthering the goal of independence of East Turkistan.
Q: What is the present situation in the “re-education camps” at Xinjiang Autonomous Region? How many people are still inside these camps?
A: The situation of “re-education camps” is deteriorating day by day. Now, the Chinese government is turning the area into a forced labour base, some people have been sent to prison with unjustified severe criminal penalties. The Chinese government has now deprived about 30% of the Uyghur population of their freedom, and China is trying to make our homeland into eternal land of the Chinese nation through population transfers and forced marriages.
Q: Does it not surprise you that none of the “Islamic” countries, including Pakistan, even once, has questioned the Chinese leadership over the inhuman treatment of the Uyghurs in China?
A: Countries, including Pakistan, applaud the Chinese for everything because they are so much dependent on China when it comes to their economic and international politics. All the current governments in the so-called Islamic countries have nothing to do with Islam. Most of them are dictatorial selfish rulers who are using religion for their own benefit and to violate justice and the law.