By New Age Islam Edit Desk
22 August 2014
The Muslim minority community have been subject to state repression in China for a long time. The government has indulged in rampant arrests, extra-judicial killings on the pretext of fighting terrorism and violation of human and religious rights of Muslims by the Chinese state. In June, the government banned Ramzan fasting saying that it was detrimental to the health of students and asked the retired teachers stand guard at the doors of mosques so that young people could not enter mosques. The Uighur Muslim community is especially at the receiving end of the Chinese government.
Earlier, as part of anti-terrorism campaign in the city of Karamay, Muslims were banned to have the following:
Jilbab Head-covering scarf Veil Young people with large beards Clothing displaying the crescent moon and star
This was protested by the Uyghur Muslims as a discrimination against them and a violation of their basic human, religious and cultural rights.
Now, the Chinese government has gone a step further in deploying repressive measures against the Uyghur Muslims. During operations against the Uyghurs, the Chinese government used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) during the operations against the Uyghur population in Yarkent country of East Turkistan.
The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) condemns in the strongest possible terms, Chinese military's use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) during the operations against the Uyghur population in Yarkent county of East Turkistan. The WUC calls on international community to hold China accountable for its brutal crackdown of targeting peaceful Uyghur civilians protesting against Chinese government repression since July 27, 2014.
As reported by Hangtian News on August 16, 2014, the UAVs (commonly known as drones) were transferred from Beijng to Kashgar on the night of August 1 and were immediately flown to Elishqu in Yarkent County at 3am on August 2 for emergency use.
A People’s Daily Online article dated August 17, 2014, discusses how security forces deployed surveillance drones in Yarkent County during operations. According to the article, the drones were used in Elishqu and Huangdi Townships in a search for alleged terror suspects. Operations were conducted “day and night.”
Elishqu Township has been completely locked down since July 28 by the heavily armed military. Although the Chinese security operation started on July 27, Chinese state media did not report on it until July 29. A Uyghur netizen who shared details of the incident online has been subsequently detained.
The Chinese government claimed 96 people were killed during the incident. According to unconfirmed reports from the region and eyewitness accounts at least 2000 people have been killed during Chinese security operation in Yarkent County.
The violence reportedly broke out after July 27, with the further deployment of the military and a curfew imposition in Elishqu Township of Yarkent County. At present, all means of communications have been cut off including the Internet and mobile phones, along with the imposition of a road blockade by the Chinese military.
Based on the reports, we have reason to suspect the usage of weaponised drones against Uyghur civilians in the recent Yarkent massacre. It is a particularly troubling fact, taking into consideration that, in all likelihood, the drones were implemented to test the ammunition and capabilities of Chinese military equipment. The use of the armed drones in the area is especially shocking considering the density of the affected Uyghur villages such as Elishqu of Yarkent county..
All of this has been amid China's fervent condemnation of the United States and their use of the aircraft during the War on Terror. A 2013 report points out that in October of that year the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, urged the US to disclose more information about its drone program, something that China has steadfastly refused to do in relation to its plans for the domestic use of drones. Up until this point, these programs have been clouded in secrecy in China, with little detailed information surfacing in relation to their future use.
It is both worrying and discouraging that China continues to apply increasing military pressure on Uyghurs in East Turkestan despite growing resentment in the region towards their illegal, repressive policies. The use of drones only adds to the list of state methods that continue to ride roughshod over international human rights norms and international law generally.
WUC calls on China to stop the use of drone against Uyghur civilians in East Turkestan and practice transparency.
WUC calls on the international community to act candidly and swiftly to ensure Elishqu Township is open to global scrutiny, that the Chinese government is held to account and that the real number of casualties during the on-going operations is released to the public. The Chinese must lift the current curfew, stop their measures of collective punishment, and cease their use of drones immediately. The WUC also urges UN member states and other international bodies to question the choice of employing heavy-handed military force in lieu of a fair judicial process.
What we are witnessing clearly constitutes state terrorism and collective punishment committed by Chinese security forces against the unarmed Uyghur civilians. This behaviour cannot be tolerated in the 21st century by any reasonable moral standards.
What is worse, the United Nations has been a silent spectator to all these repressive measures and state terrorism perpetrated by the Chinese government as it is to Israel’s attacks on Gaza.