Oct 18, 2001

Terrorism the Focus of East Turkestan Conference

The Conference on "The Situation in East Turkestan after half a century of Chinese communist occupation" was held at the European Parliament on the 17th October 2001. The conference went ahead despite what Mr Olivier Dupuis, General Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party described as "unprecedented pressure" from the Chinese embassy. Eventually, this pressure resulted in the denial of VISAS to Uighur delegates travelling from the republics of west Turkestan to attend the democratic meeting of the East Turkestan National Congress (ENTC).

Mr Enver Can, President of the ENTC opened the conference with a one minute silence for the victims of the terrorist attack on September the 11th. The Conference came at an important time as the Chinese government is seeking to portray Uigurs as terrorists. The conference condemned the attack and any terrorist actions and at the same time drew attention to the close links between the Chinese Government and the Taliban regime, as widely reported in the Western media. The conference also focused on the extent of state terrorsim practised against the Uighurs. Statistics show that execution for political crimes in East Turkestan (the province known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) is the highest in the world. The execution rate of Uighurs for "political and religious crimes" alone, is ten times higher per capita to that of executions for normal crime among the Chinese Han population. "Political and religious crimes" can include such vague accusations as sympathising with the idea of independence.

Per Gahrton, Chairman of the European Parliament Delegation with the Peoples Republic of China emphasised the efforts of the EU to influence China to go in a democratic direction, and said that this may also be a solution for the ethnic problems. Deliberating on the future of China and its entry to the WTO, he asked "How can there be an authoritarian regime in a country going for a more liberalized economy" One theory is that automatically it will change towards greater democracy. The other is we have seen a lot of liberal economies with fascist dictatorships. If there is too much conflict you will have a strong regime just for the sake of power?.

The legal aspects of the occupation of East Turkestan were also discussed and the legitimacy of states which continually destroy instead of protecting the people it is supposed to be representing were called into question. Regarding the current urgent question of terrorism, Micheal Van Walt observed, "In the campaign against terrorism a double standard is being used. One against groups that use terrorism and are being opposed, and rightly so. The other against states who use terrorism and are not being opposed. How can we convince groups not to when states are being allowed to use terrorism massively without condemnation"?

Erkin Alptekin, General Secretary of UNPO represented the Organisation at the conference. A full report can be found on the following web site www.radicalparty.org