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The Manchus invaded Eastern Turkestan in 1759. Eastern Turkestan regained her independence in 1863 and received recognition from the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia and Great Britain.
The Manchus invaded it again in 1876, and renamed the country as Xinjiang, "the new dominion."
In 1945 Muslim freedom-fighters took up arms and set up an independent Turkestan Republic in a mass-uprising supported by the Soviet Union. Their leader of the 1940s, Aysa Beg, fled to Turkey in 1949 after the Communists came to power. Now in his 80s, ill and blind, Aysa Beg and a circle of Uighurs and Kazakh exiles in Istanbul run several organisations dedicated to the freedom of Eastern Turkestan and its 14 million people.
Between 1951 and 1968, the people staged 58 armed uprisings the Chinese. More than 360,00 Turkic people were executed for their involvement.
In 1990, the Uighurs, Kirghiz and Kazakhs of Eastern Turkestan again rose up against Chinese rule. In April in the remote town of Akto, more than 1000 residents, furious at not being allowed to build a mosque, took to the streets. More than 60 people were killed in clashes with Chinese troops. China's viceroy in Eastern Turkestan blamed "internationai bourgeois liberalism" for the demonstration, and vowed to "smash" the freedom-fighters, whom he described as "the scum of the nation." In July 1990 the authorities in Xinjiang announced the arrest of 7,900 people in a crackdown on "criminal activities of ethnic splittists and other criminal offenders." 6,490 of the defendants received sentences in over 5,00 trials held in "Xinjiang" since January 1990.
Tibetan Bulletin: May-June 1991