Allied Committee: Common Voice Vol. 2(1992) Songs of Uighur fighting men

Common Voice

the publication of
presently under China

Common Voice: Volume 2 (1992) Songs of Uighur fighting men

Malike Seymenoglu

Two years ago I met His Holiness Dalai Lama in London. The first words His Holiness said to me were in Chinese: "Tong bing xiang lian." In English it means those who have the same illness sympathize with each other. We Uighurs have got the same illness as the Tibetans, that's why I am here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my biggest pleasure to have this chance to show my support for Tibetan Independence Movement. Like the Tibetans in exile I was brought up away from my country, in the other end of China, Manchuria. Apart from my very early Russian education, I was educated in Chinese from my primary school day until I became a qualified civil engineer from Harbin Civil Engineering college. 17 years full education gave me a chance to understand this nation thoroughly and strengthened my will for Turkestan's independence, which is my dream rooted deep into my heart.

Like some lucky children with a happy family life, I had a wonderful childhood too. What I enjoyed the most were in those long winter evenings, the whole family sitting together listening my father's song. Our songs preserve a strong Uighur flavour. They are the songs of fighting men, songs that sung on horseback, songs of war and their suffering. These songs may not have excessive formalism and aesthetcism of the Chinese, but with a direct appeal they fill us with deep emotions. Many times I asked my father with tears : "What sort of people can produce all these beautiful, impressive songs?" My father's answer was : "The nation who suffered the most always got the best music and epic in the world." Although at that moment I might be too young to be called nationalist, but I understood that nothing can be worse than being colonized.

I admire free nations, the nations who can decide their own future. I always imagine myself living in a free country of my own, speaking Uighur as the official language. How happy I would be if only I could see our children educated in Uighur school by Uighur teachers, learn more about how lucky to be a Uighur! The teacher used to become hysterical when she started talking about Japanese occupation for 8 years. She told us it was a shame to be colonized, so many innocent people lost their lives. And it was the same teacher who reacted very badly whenever she heard I was calling myself Uighur instead of Chinese.

Gradually I started understanding Chinese mentality through Chinese literature. I realized Chinese language is the root of all the evil. It is the language legalizing all their misdeeds. Take frontier as an example. When we think about the frontier as in the European conception, No frontier in that sense existed in China until her conflict with the European powers. In the dogma of the Chinese religion of Heaven, all the countries of the world were subjected to the Chinese emperor, the son of the Heaven. Thus there could be no such thing as other independent states apart from "Middle Kingdom" the way they called themselves. With this in the mind, whichever territory they occupied, they took it as their own.

Anybody brought up in this language bound to absorb this philosophy. To this middle kingdom 8 years Japanese occupation is an unforgivable crime, but their many decades of occupation of East Turkestan, Tibet and Mongolia is only natural. We are belong to one of the world's ancient civilizations, but I am not here to talk about our glorious past, what I want to talk about is how much damage the Chinese ruling has done to my country.

Recently I read an article from "China Today" it was about the experience of a Chinese who thought he came to "help" East Turkestan like millions of other Chinese since 1957. He was feeling sorry for the Uighur people who are living in poverty. Obviously he has noticed that the arrival of all those Chinese did not improve Uighur people's condition. He even found a solution to solve this problem and the solution was Chinese should show more respect to the local people rather than looking down on them. What he can not realize is that my country which is quiet sufficient for our own people can not accommodate millions of Chinese. These Chinese coming as rulers, taking up most of the jobs, living in very good houses, while Uighur people are left homeless and unemployed. His Chinese education failed to teach him that we are a different nation, a separate state. The only solution to our problem is self determination, that mean independence. How could we let Chinese living in our country as our masters and expecting equality from them? We have governed ourselves for centuries, so why should we need the so called "help"? There were never famine in Uighur's history before Chinese Communist came, so why should we let them taking away our natural resources and leave us in starvation? With all our wealth we could have been a very self sufficient country, but instead we are living in poverty. So if not Chinese to blame who is responsible for all this? I hope they can understand it one day.

The Chinese like calling us minorities. For them our existence is trivial, unimportant. But without our territory, I meant Tibet, Mongolia and East Turkestan, China would have only half of the present territory for one billion people live in. In nineteen fifties an Uighur nationalist asked Primier Zhou why they could not call us Uighur instead of Minority? This Uighur nationalist was punished later for out spokeness. Probably some people can not agree with me and could say that the Hui in china trying to be minority, in order to have two children. It is probably true for Hui; but why should we Uighurs wait for Chinese approval to have more than one Child? Our country is big and rich enough to support our population. But even so, Chinese still would not let Uighurs to have more children. As Chinese would not offer us proper health care but never stop taking away our precious natural resources. That is why infant mortality is very high in East Turkestan. Our natural growth rate is zero, but there is 3% increase in population every year due to the massive Chinese immigration. Two years ago a Chinese woman was complaining to me about chinese birth control policy. She thought chinese Government not allowing intelligent Chinese to have as many children as they want, but letting stupid minority to have two children. I feel this sort of Chinese attitude is even bigger threat to us than Chinese Government.

I went back to East Turkestan in 1982 as a university Lecturer. I was given a class of students, they were mostly Uighurs, few Kazaks and a Mongolian. Then I spent two painful years with my students, seeing how badly they were discriminated. They were from the poorest area of East Turkestan, so none of them could speak Chinese before they started their university degree. They spent one extra year in the university learning Chinese. Their Chinese were poor, because one year is just too short to master a complicated language like Chinese, but yet they spent next four years to study every subject in Chinese except the political course. I was shocked to hear that I could not lecture my students Concrete Structure in Uighur, ironically political study could be carried on in Uighur for all those four years. For Chinese Government it is always important that Uighurs accept Chinese philosophy rather than learning technology. During the five years of their University life my sludents were constantly harassed, blamed for every thing went wrong around them. Once one Chinese lecturer even trying to tell my students that if Chinese did not come to help Uighurs we would not have multi storey buildings in East Turkestan. One of my student told her if Chinese did not comc to East Turkeslan, even if all the Uighurs lived in bungalos we would still have plenty extra spaces left.

Under colonization life is always very hard, but it is even harder when it is under Chinese control. Uighur had been the official language even ten years after communist Chinese occupation. Text books were imported from Ozbekistan, since we speak the same language, so educational system was completely established according to Ozbek's way. But the Chinese always disliked the way we resisted their assimilation. At the beginning of 1960 Chinese authority with the excuse of Chinese-Russian conflict terminated the Uighur language as our official language instead they used Chinese books to replace our Uighur-Ozbek text books; closed down most Uighur primary and secondary schools, imposed Chinese language as the first language in 90% primary and secondary schools, and totally forbade Uighur language used in all Ihe Universities in East Turkestan. After all these they still felt more should be done, so in 1962 they ciaimed that Uighur script was too backward and stated the process of inventing the new Latin script for us. To be honest we did not like the new script at the beginning since it was imposed on us. But gradually certain advantages was discovered in daily use, especially it made the communication with outside world very easy, so most people, especially Uighur intellectuals learned it and also enjoyed writing letters to each other with this new script. My students belong to the generation brought up with this new script. Butjust at this time, Chinese Government suddenly decided to abandon the Latin script which was already widely used and brought back the old Arabic script. One generation is totally lost. They can not read Ihe Arabic script, while all the newspapers and books were already only having Arabic version. My students always ask me during the exam if they could answer my exam sheets in Latin script. Poor in Chinese, unable to read old writing of ours, they were the real victims. From these examples I hope you can see how crude, repressive and absolutely destruclive the Chinese rule in East Turkestan.

There are too many issues to talk about, but I would like to conclude my speech with an important issue, that is the environmental damage Chinese has done to my country. Everybody knows that Chinese did all their nuclear test in East Turkestan, air is totally contaminated. Last year I was talking about this problem at a conference, afterwards a Chinese approached me (I still wonder why he did not have Ihe courage to ask me this question during question time?) asking me if Chinese not allowed to do their test in East Turkestan, where should they do it? What he meant probably was that Chinese provinces was so densely populated. I told him it was not our duty to find a testing spot for them.

Chinese language is very rich, I think one of the reason of its richness is because Chinese scholars keep inventing new expressions for every change of the government policies. One of the new invention is: "Minority can not live without Chinese, and Chinese can not live without minority". It is quite obvious from the above facts that the first half of this claim is absoIutely wrong; but the second half of it is very much true. The Chinese oil mainly come from us, 1/3 of Chinese coal come from us; most of the gold and precious stones like ruby and diamonds come from us as well. We also supply fruit and livestock to China. With all these natural resources we are the poorest nation in the world and it only prove one thing that minority cannot live under Chinese occupation.

In Chinese history anybody against the regime or monarchy would be executcd with the entire family. It is not just the immediate members of the family, but even the most remotely related ones would be executed together. Some time destroying upto a few hundred people. This is the tradition that nationalist Chinese inherited, and also favoured by Communist Chinese. This barbaric way of punishment has been frequently exercised to suppress our nationalists, but nothing can stop our nationalistic movement.

I can now understand my father's songs even better.

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