Opinion Journal – The Price of Speaking Out: Why Beijing beat and jailed my sons. BY REBIYA KADEER

I was left to contemplate the high price I have paid for speaking out about the plight of my people, the 10 million Turkic Uighurs who have suffered under Communist Chinese rule since 1949. That price began with my arrest in 1999 while on my way to meet a U.S. congressional delegation in Urumqi, the capital city of my homeland, Xinjiang, in the far northwest of China. Newspaper clippings I’d sent to my husband in the U.S. were used to convict me of “leaking state secrets,” a term so broadly defined in China that it can be used to encompass almost everything.

Had it not been for the Bush administration I would still be in prison today, serving my eight-year sentence for this “crime.” Washington applied significant political pressure for my early release, and in March 2005 it yielded results. Just days before a visit to China by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, I was handed over to American officials in Beijing and exiled to the U.S.

Quick, bomb American interests! It is outrageous that the Bush Administration should be allowed to concern themselves with the human rights of Muslims!

And now that I was free to speak, I felt I had a duty to try to apply the same pressure to secure the release of so many others who remain behind bars.

So I testified before Congress and spoke to human-rights groups about the oppression being suffered by Uighurs. I told them about how Uighur women are sterilized or forced to have abortions because the Chinese government says they are too poor to afford to have families. I told them about how Uighur mosques are closed, their imams jailed, while parents are forbidden from teaching religion to their children. Human-rights groups estimate that there are thousands of Uighur political prisoners, and Xinjiang has the dubious distinction of being the only place in China where executions still take place for political crimes.

Ah, China. Just when I start to warm to it, something else floats to the surface.

So, let’s learn something new:

Though most Uyghur seperatists support peaceful, secular Uyghur nationalism, there are some radical Islamic militant groups (such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement) vying for independence as well. This has caused much confusion with regard to names and belief of Uyghur political groups. Often the Chinese government refers to general “East Turkestan” to refer to terrorists.

They want a Turkestan. We’d have a Turkey and a Turkestan. On opposite sides of the steppe.

Before converting to Islam, Uyghurs included Manichaeans, Buddhists and even some Nestorian Christians. It is probable that, genetically and culturally, modern Uyghurs descend from the nomadic tribes of Mongolia, from the Turkic subjects of the Mongols as well as from the many Indo-European-speaking groups who preceded them in the Tarim Basin oasis-cities. Today one can still see Uyghurs with light-coloured skin and hair. Modern genetic study shows Uyghurs are geneticly closest to modern Turkey Turks.


In China, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkestan). Uyghurs live in Kazakhstan, Kirgizistan and Uzbekistan as a mojor minority ethnic group. There is a large Uyghur community in Turkey. A small community of Uyghurs also exists in Taoyuan County of Hunan province in South-central China. Uyghur neighborhoods also exist in major cities like Beijing an Shanghai.

The Uyghur people are a Turkic-speaking people. Turkic languages:

constitute a language family of some thirty languages, spoken across a vast area from Eastern Europe to Siberia and Western China with an estimated 140 million native speakers and tens of millions of second-language speakers.