Hard to Believe the Lovable Uighurs Could Be Involved in Terrorism…
…even though the ones we were holding at Gitmo were trained in al-Qaeda-affiliated camps.
The Wall Street Journal (as flagged in the NRO web briefing) reports on rioting in China by Uighur "students" that has left scores dead and hundreds wounded. The "students," described elsewhere in the story as from a "predominantly Muslim ethnic group[, which has] long chafed at restrictions on their civil liberties and religious practices imposed by a Chinese government fearful of political dissent," expressed their dissent by torching cars and buses, as well as — according to accounts of some witnesses to state-controlled media — rampaging "with big knives stabbing people" on the street.
No reason for non-Muslims in Bermuda, Palau, or the United States to worry, though. The lovable Uighurs are merely trying to address "economic and social discrimination." Once they get social justice, I'm sure they'll stop.
There was once a time when, if an ethnic minority was rising up against an oppressive communist regime, you could count on National Review to side with the rabble-rousers fighting for political freedom, not the commies. But I guess that was pre-September 11. Now it's apparently all about siding with whoever is killing Muslims.
McCarthy might want to look over this FBI report (PDF, via Obsidian Wings) about the Uighurs at Gitmo, whom even the Bush administration conceded were captured by mistake and never posed a threat to the United States.
The Uighurs are moderate Muslims who occupied East Turkestan, which was taken over by the Chinese and renamed the Xinjiang province of China. The Uighurs were offered land in Afghanistan in order to gather personnel opposing Chinese oppression. They were often inspired by Radio Free Asia, which [redacted] was often a broadcaster for. The Uighurs considered themselves to be fighting for democracy, and they idolized the United States. Although the Uighurs are Muslim their agenda did not appear to include Islamic radicalism. They claimed to have no political connection to Islamic terrorists or the Taliban. However, their camp in Afghanistan was bombed, and they fled to Pakistan. The Uighurs were captured by the Pakistanis, with half being transferred to US custody, and half being remanded directly to Chinese officials. It was alleged that the Uighurs who were transferred directly to the Chinese were immediately executed. At the time of my TDY, US officials were considering whether to return the Uighurs to the Chinese, possibly to gain support for anticipated US action in the Middle East.
McCarthy might also want to read this account of the Uighurs plight since China seized what was then called East Turkistan a half-century ago, although it was admittedly written for some crazy left-wing rag:
My homeland has been under Chinese Communist rule for the past 56 years. Uyghurs, like Buddhists in Tibet, are forbidden to pray or speak freely. When Western reporters talk about how China's political situation is improving alongside rapid economic growth, I know they have not visited East Turkistan. Where I grew up, people today are still being executed for speaking out against injustice. East Turkistan is the only province in the People's Republic of China where people are still being executed for political reasons. Of course, China no longer labels us "counter-revolutionaries" or "American running dogs." Now Beijing calls us terrorists, hoping to legitimize their oppression by describing it as part of China's war on terror.
…and what happened to them after September 11:
…the government seized the opportunity to advance its campaign to assimilate forcefully Uyghurs into the Chinese culture. Uyghur books were burned, and now we Uyghurs can no longer speak our language in universities (and an increasing number of high schools). It is hard to describe to someone who lives in a free society, particularly in America, which has never been occupied, how it feels not to be able to own and speak your language.
Our freedom to practice religion has turned into a privilege regulated by the CCP. Chinese officials recently bragged that three million births in East Turkistan were avoided, meaning that that unborn Uyghur children have been forcibly aborted. In short, the Chinese Communist Party's assault on the existence of the Uyghur nation has been intensified under the banner of China's own war on terror. Uyghurs who peacefully oppose this injustice are labeled as terrorists. Many who escaped to neighboring countries like Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan were returned to China and executed. Uyghurs want peace, freedom, democracy, and human rights, including the right to be Muslim.
If the Uighur students are indeed "rampaging 'with big knives stabbing people' on the street," that's a regrettable form of protest. It's amusing, though, to see a National Review contributor quote a communist country's state-controlled media account of anti-government protests in order to make his point.