Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer charged on Wednesday that nearly 10,000 people "disappeared" in ethnic unrest in China's northwest this month and expressed disappointment at the US response to the violence.On the one hand, it seems impossible that so many people could be disappeared, literally overnight. On the other hand, we are talking about the most brutally totalitarian regime on the planet. If anyone could accomplish this, they could.
Kadeer, the US-based head of the World Uighur Congress, said that "the Chinese government is trying to destroy the Uighur people," speaking during a Japan visit that angered the communist government in Beijing.
Speaking through an interpreter and citing local sources, she said "close to 10,000 people in Urumqi disappeared in one night" when authorities cracked down from July 5 on the unrest in the mainly Muslim region of Xinjiang.
"Where did those people go?" she said. "If they died, where did they go?"
Put it like this: I would not be surprised if the number of those arrested runs into the low thousands. I think it unlikely that it could be as many as ten thousand. Does it have to be? Would that be enough to wring some condemnation from Barak Obama and other western leaders. If not, how many?
I also think that many of those arrested will already have been released. But there will probably be a large number whose fate will not be known, or who will be given a quick show trial and then sentenced to life in some reducation labour camp, where they can manufacture consumer baubles for the west. Which is why our leaders are so strikingly mute.
Meanwhile, the Chinese are hinting to Washington that they should take steps to silence Kadeer :
In Washington, China's vice foreign minister Wang Guangya on Tuesday said his side had asked the United States to "restrain and prevent" anyone from using its soil to conduct "separatist activities against China." (2)Kadeer is beinng represented as someone a bit like Osama bin Laden, and the Uighurs as the equivalent of Al Queada. I suspect they will have failed to furnish any evidence to back up their claim that Kadeer is behind the rioting. On the other side, speaking out in support of Kadeer, we have the Dalai Lama (3).
Normally I'd expect a western nation to tell the Chinese to go to Hell, but given the USA's cavalier attitude towards evidence in its attempts to extradite Gary MacKinnon, I'm not sure that's anything more than wistful thinking (4).
1 - "Uighur leader says nearly 10,000 'disappeared'," by Hiroshi Hiyama, published by AFP, 29th of July, 2009. Hosted by Google. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i4Hm6p5Pgi_B-hJKOLrpio0KbDsQ)
2 - ibid.
3 - "Uighur head against violence: Dalai Lama," unattributed AFP article. Reproduced in The Sydney Morning Herlad, 29th of July, 2009. (http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/uighur-head-against-violence-dalai-lama-20090729-e0ed.html)
4 - "Extradition to the United States," a general description of the impact of the 2003 Extradition Bill, as part of the Freedom Bill campaign run by the Liberal Democratic Party. (http://freedom.libdems.org.uk/the-freedom-bill/3-extradition-to-the-united-states/)