Uyghurs cheer as they shoot down a Chinese spy balloon

Protesters representing the Turkish people of occupied East Turkestan gathered outside the White House on Sunday against the Chinese genocide, taking a moment to praise the Pentagon for shooting down a rogue Chinese “surveillance” balloon the day before.

The Chinese vessel, which Beijing has confirmed originated in China but claimed to have accidentally drifted away from its original route and into Canada and America, flew for days across the west coast before Confused onlookers in Montana begin filming it from the sky, prompting the United States Department of Defense to confirm that a Chinese surveillance balloon had entered American airspace. Pentagon officials said they could not shoot down the balloon – which was flying at an estimated height of 60,000 feet, well above commercial aircraft – for fear the resulting debris could injure people on the ground. However, public pressure intensified over the weekend, from both concerned citizens and members of Congress, that the balloon was equipped with advanced surveillance technology that China could use to gather intelligence. at sensitive US military sites.

After initially telling Americans they should be prepared for the balloon to hover overhead for “a few days” on Friday, the Pentagon confirmed on Saturday that an American F-22 fighter jet shot down the balloon. over the waters off South Carolina.

The Chinese Communist Party responded indignantly to the downing of the balloon, calling it an “obvious overreaction”.

Sunday’s protest was organized by the East Turkistan Government in Exile (ETGE), which represents the Uyghur-majority region China calls the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The event was primarily intended to mark the 26th anniversary of the Ghulja massacre, a Chinese Communist Party crackdown on peaceful protests against the regime that left at least 300 people dead and more than 1,600 arrested in 1997.

Members of the East Turkestan diaspora community led by the East Turkestan government in exile شەرقىي تۈركىستان…

Posted by East Turkestan National Awakening Movement on Sunday, February 5, 2023

Aziz Sulayman, ETGE’s foreign minister, voiced his support for the US decision to bring the ball down.
“We would like to commend the United States for bringing down the Chinese spy balloon and demonstrating that it will not violate China’s violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law,” Suleyman said. “China’s violations of international law, sovereignty and territorial integrity must never go unpunished in the United States and other countries.”

It is believed that the balloon spent a few days in British Columbia, Canada, before entering the western United States, but the Canadian government took no action against it.

The ETGE demanded international recognition of East Turkestan as an occupied country for years, noting that it came under Chinese communist control after existing as a sovereign state after a violent invasion in 1949. Protesters equated Sunday’s violation of US sovereignty by China to China’s refusal to allow East Turkestan to exist peacefully as a separate state.

Since capturing the region in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party, led by the Han ethnic group originally from eastern China, has committed human rights atrocities against the region’s indigenous population for decades. . More recently, under dictator Xi Jinping, the Party launched a campaign of genocide against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Turks in East Turkestan, forcing millions into concentration camps where survivors testified extreme torture, slavery, forced sterilization, indoctrination, gang rapes and other atrocities.

Despite the overwhelming evidence of genocide against the people of East Turkestan – particularly around forced sterilization, forced abortion and the abduction of children to be brought up according to Communist and Han traditions – China continues to harbor friendly relations with most nations and recently hosted the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

“Since the People’s Republic of China violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of East Turkestan with a belligerent armed invasion in late 1949, East Turkestan and its people have been subjugated and subjected to colonialism, genocide and occupation for over 73 years,” Suleyman said in his speech at the protest, featuring dozens of Uyghurs and supporters. “The people of East Turkestan have been subjected to continuous atrocities and massacres which have continued even into 2023.”

Sunday’s event marked the anniversary of just one of those atrocities: the Ghulja massacre, which took place in the town of the same name in response to a peaceful protest that took place there in 1997.

“Instead of hearing the legitimate and peaceful demands of the people of East Turkestan, the Chinese occupying forces engaged in state terrorism and violently suppressed the peaceful protest in what became known as the massacre of Ghulja,” Suleyman explained. “Over 100 peaceful protesters were killed, over 1,600 were arrested and over 200 were executed later in 1999.”

Suleyman urged the international community to “recognize East Turkestan as an occupied country, similar to Tibet”.

February 5, 2023: Demonstration outside the White House commemorating the 26th anniversary of the 1997 Ghulja massacre.

Posted by East Turkestan National Awakening Movement on Sunday, February 5, 2023

Ghulja became the focal point of another peaceful protest movement in September, when hundreds of residents took to the streets in defiance of a brutal Chinese government lockdown, supposedly in place to protect them from coronavirus infections. For days before the protest, residents across East Turkestan took to social media to post public videos of empty fridges as well as starving, or in some cases already dead, loved ones killed by the lockdowns. Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported at the time that at least 22 people died in Ghulja on September 15.

The desperate situation has led an unknown number, believed to be at least hundreds of people, to take to the streets of Ghulja to demand basic food and medicine.

Chinese police arrested more than 600 people in Ghulja in September following the protest, according to reports from residents. Chinese authorities initially admitted to only four arrests of individuals identified as having Han names, but relatives and neighbors have identified hundreds more missing.

The Ghulja protests preceded a nationwide uprising in China in late November that prompted the Chinese government to claim to abandon large-scale lockdowns, followed by a wave of mass deaths that the Chinese government barely reported, but was corroborated by multiple independent investigations.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook And Twitter.


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