Jan 27, 2011

The City of Kashgar: An Oasis of the Silk Road on the Brink of Extinction

Conference on Kashgar City Closes with Pledge for Urgency Resolution:

MEPs Promise to Place Kashgar Firmly on the European Parliament’s Agenda

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Kashgar Conference 5 

From left to right: Marino Busdachin (UNPO General Secretary), Helga Trüpel MEP, Frieda Brepoels MEP, Rebiya Kadeer (WUC), Mehmet Tohti (WUC)

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Brussels, 28 January 2011 – Members of the European Parliament have joined together to support an urgency resolution on the desperate situation of Kashgar after hearing testimony from Rebiya Kadeer, President of the World Uyghur Congress and Nobel Peace Prize nominee.  The pledge comes after a conference convened by Frieda Brepoels MEP saw Kinga Gál MEP, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, Niccolò Rinaldi MEP, Helga Trüpel MEP express support for the Kashgar campaign.  

Kashgar Conference 1 

Attendees learned of the importance and prospects for Kashgar from Haiyun Ma (Laogai Research Foundation), Mehmet Tohti (World Uyghur Congress), and Henryk Szadziewski (Uyghur Human Rights Project) before Ulrich Delius (Society for Threatened Peoples), Vincent Metten (International Campaign for Tibet) and Suzanne van Haeverbeeck (former World Heritage Expert) discussed both the cost of inaction and the opportunities still remaining to protect Kashgar.  

Kashgar Conference 2 

From left to right: Frieda Brepoels MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott MEP, Rebiya Kadeer (WUC), Kinga Gál MEP, Mehmet Tohti (WUC)

Time is pressing if Kashgar, as a symbol of Uyghur culture and the Silk Road, is to be saved from the bulldozers but Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary, welcomed the urgency resolution, reminding those present that the problems of China’s minorities remained “too long to list today.” Rebiya Kadeer noted that “one culture does not belong to one people…[but inside China]…people do not have that right” to question the state’s actions – hence the importance of the urgency resolution.  In this vein, Helga Trüpel MEP noted that if Beijing wanted to be seen as a world power it had to recognize the “cultural diversity and cultural autonomy” of its people.    

Kashgar Conference 3 

From left to right: Nicole Kiil-Nielsen MEP, Rebiya Kadeer (WUC), Belgian Uyghur community member

Frieda Brepoels MEP remarked after concluding the conference that “China is clearly lacking the capacity to give essential rights to its ethnic minorities…without the participation of the local population and the Chinese refusal to let Kashgar compete for UNESCO world heritage status is characteristic of the way in which the Chinese Communist Party handles cultural diversity.”  

Kashgar Conference 4




Conference Programme:

Opening Remarks

Frieda Brepoels MEP (Greens/EFA)


Marino Busdachin, General Secretary (UNPO)

Rebiya Kadeer, President of World Uyghur Congress  


Panel 1: Kashgar: Invaluable Site of Cultural Heritage

“The Architectural and Historical Significance of Kashgar Old City”

Haiyun Ma, Laogai Reserach Foundation

“A Personal History of Kashgar"

Mehmet Tohti, World Uyghur Congress                    

“The Importance of Kashgar for Turkic Uyghur Identity”

Henryk Szadziewski, Uyghur Human Rights Project 


Panel 2: Kashgar: A Quest for Cultural Protection


“Bejing’s Reconstruction and the Campaign to Save Kashgar”

Ulrich Delius, Society for Threatened Peoples

“Progressive Cultural Destruction: The Case of Lhasa”

Vincent Metten, International Campaign for Tibet

How to Save Kashgar? The Example of Bruges”

Suzanne Van Haeverbeeck, former Flemish world heritage expert  

Press Conference


Background information on the conference:

Conference programme click here

Poster of the conference click here 

Speaker Biographies click here

Final press release 28 January 2011 click here

Press release PRESS REMINDER 24 January 2011 click here

Press release SAVE THE DATE 9 December 2010 click here

Parliamentary Question and Answer from the Commission on the City of Kashgar, 26 January 2011 click here 


Past events on East Turkestan:

2010 China-Uyghur Dialogue Conference click here

2009 Hearing: World Uyghur Congress and UNPO at EU Parliament click here

2009 Conference: East Turkestan: 60 Years Under China click here

UNPO & WUC Spearheading Uyghur Leadership Training Seminar click here


Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China
Ms. Rebiya Kadeer’s autobiography, Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China details her exceptional life as a self-made millionaire and philanthropist, turned political prisoner and later exiled activist.  Set against the backdrop of decades of tumultuous political and social changes in East Turkestan it also chronicles the experiences of the Uyghur population under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Dragon Fighter: One Woman’s Epic Struggle for Peace with China is now available in bookstores, and may be ordered online here.  


 For more information on the conference, please refer to  

UNPO Advocacy Office  |  +32 (0)251 31459 |  [email protected] 



 Note to Editors: Ms. Kadeer testified before the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights in 2009 and made a call for dialogue with Beijing.  The modalities of a dialogue was the focus of a conference sponsored by Niccolo Rinaldi MEP and Ivo Vaigl MEP in April 2010 and is a priority for WUC activities in 2011. ___________________________________________________ 



 Organised by the Office of Frieda Brepoels MEP    








in collaboration with:      




UNPOBelgian Uyghur Association