Concerning Uyghurs

An excellent synopsis of the Uygur issue

MasterChef writes on chez Nadezhda

Although the biggest names and largest percentage of captured Al Qaeda members continue to be primarily of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin, every now and then reports mention other, more exotic figures in the mix of captured and killed: Chechens from the Caucuses, Uzbeks, Filipino Moros, and, infrequently but not unnoticed, Uyghurs from China’s Xinjiang province.

What motivates those small handfuls of anonymous young men to cross the Pamir mountains into Afghanistan and fight alongside the militants of Al Qaeda and the Taliban? In order to attempt an answer, we must examine the origins of Xinjiang’s oasis peoples, the Uyghurs, and their aspirations for nationhood; the nature of Chinese rule over them today, and its effects on those aspirations; and the extent to which militant Islamic revivalism may have infiltrated China’s western hinterlands, and what implications that holds for the Uyghurs and their region. This paper argues that China’s discriminatory policies have, more than any other factor, served to alienate the Uyghurs and increase the appeal of militant Islam, in effect making Beijing’s worst fears a reality.

While Uyghur terrorists, with the essentially limited goal of ending Chinese occupation of Xinjiang, would be unlikely to achieve the kind of global scope that Osama bin Laden’s metastasizing terror network has achieved, a potential willingness on their part to link up with other similarly-minded militant groups in neighboring Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia raises the possibility of a widening front in the war on terror on China’s western frontier — something no one, be they Uyghur, Chinese, or outside observer, should desire. [Entire article on chez Nadezhda]