The Future of the Uyghurs: An International Conference

Posted: 2011年04月18日 in Original Thoughts

The Future of the Uyghurs

East Turkestan: US to Host Major Conference on the Future for Uyghurs

An international conference in the Capitol Building will gather Congressmen and leading experts to discuss the future of the Uyghur people, this opening ceremony will later be followed by internal discussions for the Uyghur diaspora community.
Below is a press release published by the
World Uyghur Congress:

WUC Announcement: International Conference “The Future of Uyghur People in East Turkestan” – UPDATE
Press Release – For immediate release
15 April 2011
Contact: World Uyghur Congress
0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 0049 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0049 (0) 89 5432 1999 0049      end_of_the_skype_highlighting (0) 89 5432 1999 or
From May 2-8, 2011 the international conference The Future of Uyghur People in East Turkestan co-sponsored by Freedom House, World Uyghur Congress (WUC), Uyghur American Association (UAA) and the International Uyghur Human Rights and Democracy Foundation (IUHRDF), will take place in Washington, D.C.
The World Uyghur Congress is pleased to announce that the opening ceremony of the conference will be held at:
U.S. Capitol Building (room location to be announced)
The opening ceremony will commence on May 2, 2011 at 10.00h with a speech by WUC President and longstanding Uyghur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer, and will include a number of distinguished speakers.
Scheduled guest speakers are:
Hon. Frank R. Wolf (U.S. Congressman)
Hon. Jim McGovern (U.S. Congressman)
Carl Gershman (President, National Endowment for Democracy),
Louisa Coan Greve (Vice President, National Endowment for Democracy),
Randall Shriver (Former Assistant Secretary of State)
T. Kumar (Advocacy Director for Asia and the Pacific, Amnesty International USA)
Dr. Gunawardena-Vaughn (Director of the International Religious Freedom Consortium and the Southeast Asia Program, Freedom House)
Dr. Sophie Richardson (Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch, Asia Division, tbc)
After the Opening Ceremony, the Uyghur community will stage a demonstration in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC.
From May 3 – 8, 2011 the conference The Future of Uyghur People in East Turkestan will be held at:
Holiday Inn
Carradoc Hall
1500 East Market Street
Leesburg, VA 20176
This conference is an internal conference for the Uyghur Diaspora community and its main goal is to provide a constructive forum for Uyghur leaders from around the world to discuss the ongoing violations of civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights suffered by the Uyghur people in East Turkestan. The delegates will also discuss the situation of Uyghur refugees around the world in order to find effective solutions to provide legal and moral assistance and support.
Delegates from all over the world will explore common strategies, effective political platforms, and future steps. Delegates will include members of the WUC and non-WUC affiliated Uyghur community leaders and intellectuals. Around 200 Uyghur delegates from more than 20 countries from around the world are expected to participate in the conference.
For questions, please contact:
Omer Kanat
Alim Seytoff
Phone: +1 202 4781920 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +1 202 4781920      end_of_the_skype_highlighting +1 202 4781920 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +1 202 4781920      end_of_the_skype_highlighting ext. 106
Fax: +1 202 4781910

Dolkun Isa Phone: +49 89 54321999 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49 89 54321999      end_of_the_skype_highlighting +49 89 54321999 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +49 89 54321999      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Fax: +49 89 54349789

The International Conference on the Future of the Uyghurs, recently announced by the World Uyghur Congress and the Uyghur Association of America, poses big questions about the future of the Uyghurs and will guide the discussion for some time to come. Such questions have been debated, opinions have been circulated, and answers have been promoted at length among the people in exile, who suffer enormously at the hands of governments with different ideologies.

History holds two precedents that may guide the discussion. One is the Jewish question in the 20th century and the other is the Tibetan cause today.

Israel provides an example of the establishment of an independent state and provides a solution for the future of the Jews at the expense of the Palestinians. The Tibetans have achieved nothing but the recognition of the personal charisma of the Dalai Lama and the internationalization of the Tibetan issue.

One can quickly draw the conclusion that a realistic future for the Uyghurs cannot be modeled on the Jewish case. Realpolitik, the growth of China’s economic, military, and political clout, and China’s efforts at cultural diplomacy prohibit such a solution.
So what might the future of Xinjiang look like if we model it on the Tibetan case? From the outset, internationalizing the Uyghur issue and winning sympathy around the world throws up several obstacles.

1. After September 11, and under the guise of a war on Muslim states (Iraq, Afghanistan, recently Libya, possibly Iran), the moral and material support of a world dominated by the Christian West is questionable. The US and China jointly labeled the so-called East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. Given such a relationship between Christian hegemons and Muslim victims, can the Christian West truly support the establishment of a Muslim Uyghur state in Central Asia?

2. Unlike the Tibetans, who share a common religion in Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism, and have a central leadership under the Dalai Lama, the Uyghurs aren’t nearly so united. While Uyghurs are predominately Muslim, increasing numbers are converting to Christianity. This is true even among the Uyghur leadership. And while Uyghurs have begun to submit to Ms. Kadeer as their unifying leader, her leadership and her succession lack religious justification and institutional legitimacy. Several critical questions have been asked. Firstly, can a woman lead the struggle of the Muslim Uyghurs? Secondly, can a secular leader –– be that Ms. Kadeer or somebody else –– lead the Muslim Uyghurs?

3. Unlike the Tibetan movement, which calls for greater autonomy, the Uyghur leadership in exile seems to lack a pragmatic and coherent agenda. Democracy and freedom are good aspirations when one aims to raise funds, but such causes are most unrealistic given that China is not a democracy. The question in the face of a communist or nationalist China should be: what aims do the Uyghur leadership and the overseas Uyghurs attempt to realize?

These questions and issues are critical and challenging. At the same time we see a positive development. Another conference in Brussels earlier this year raised awareness about the situation of the Uyghurs among congressmen in the United States. Publicizing the Uyghur issue and gaining support and sympathy are positive outcomes of such conferences. What is more, an internal discussion could bring overseas Uyghurs together and allow them to reach a consensus on key issues such as leadership, fundraising, propaganda, presenting a united front, and so on.

This conference is imperative for the discussion –– if not the decision –– on the future of the Uyghurs in the new world context.


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