Abubekri Rehim who revealed the Yarkand Massacre to the world. Image is taken from Chinese state media.
Author: Abdullah Tohti Arish
Translation: Uighur Fact Group
Since the occupation of East Turkistan in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has been committing tremendous atrocities against Uighurs and other ethnic groups of East Turkistan. The Yarkand Massacre is just another portrayal of the Chinese regime’s crimes in East Turkistan.
The massacre took place on July 28, 2014, which also corresponds to the 28th day of the holy month of Ramadan. On this day, the Chinese forces massacred more than 3,000 innocent people including women and children in Elishqu Village in the city of Yarkand.
What led to the massacre?
It was a few days into the holy month of Ramadan that a serious traffic accident occurred in Yarkand County. A drunk Han Chinese driver tragically killed five people, including two pregnant Uighur women and a 15-year-old Uighur boy. However, he was not held accountable for his crime just because he was Han, the dominant ethnic group in China. In addition to this, just a few days before this incident, the Chinese police assaulted a family in Beshkent Town. Five people including a 70-year old Uighur man and a five-year-old Uighur boy were shot dead by the Chinese police. Infuriated by these events, the people went to the local government officials to seek justice and demanded them to hold the perpetrators accountable. However, the Chinese officials responded to them with intimidation and detention.
Further, some women were detained for wearing traditional scarves in Yarkand County. It is important to note here that, in 2014 the Chinese authorities started a crackdown on traditional and religious symbols and garments across East Turkistan. On July 27th, 2014, a few men demonstrated peacefully in front of the local police station to demand their wives’ release. Nevertheless, the deliberate harsh response of the Chinese police forces turned the peaceful demonstration into a violent confrontation between the two sides.
All these intolerable injustices prompted the people of Elishqu Village to stand up against the Chinese occupation’s persecution and oppression and to seek their rights on their own. As a result, the Chinese military and police forces relentlessly massacred more than 3,000 unarmed people in the same way they massacred the students in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the Uighur youth in Urumqi on July 5, 2009. Even two Uighur officials who had been working for the Chinese authorities for many years were also shot dead during the massacre (Radio Free Asia confirmed this in an interview with a Uighur official’s wife). It was also reported that the Chinese Liberation Army tested its unmanned drones in this massacre.
To hide and get away with this crime, the Chinese authorities have completely blocked Yarkand County, cut off the internet in the region and implemented military curfew in the city for several months after the massacre. Everyone who witnessed this tragedy has been arrested and brutally silenced. Yet, East Turkistan gave birth to another hero. 22-year-old Abubekri Rehim risked his life and exposed the Yarkand Massacre to the world by using a VPN (virtual private network). If it was not for Abubekri’s heroism, this barbaric crime of the Chinese communist regime would have gone without notice. The Chinese regime later arrested Abubekri Rehim and sentenced him to nine years in prison for exposing “state secrets”.
On July 28, 2014, the people of East Turkistan rejected the Chinese occupation and once again rang the bell of freedom and justice. The revolution of the people of Yarkand is an appeal to the world and the defenders of freedom that the crimes of the Chinese communist regime cannot go unchallenged and the people of East Turkistan are ready to strive and fight to gain their freedom and rights.
Since the Yarkand Massacre, the Chinese authorities have been dramatically increasing the persecution and genocide of the people of East Turkistan. Currently, more than three million people are being held in concentration camps across East Turkistan, families are being torn apart, Uighur children are being taken away from their parents and undergoing forced assimilation. Yet, in this lonely and ruthless struggle, the people of East Turkistan continue to stand strong and fight back.
On Saturday, July 27, 2019, Uighur youth held demonstratipon in Stuttgart, Germany to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Yarkand Massacre.
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