Thursday, August 31, 2006

Curious case of Canuck abroad

Curious case of Canuck abroad


In a front page story this week, the Globe and Mail recounted how a Canadian citizen, Hussein Celil, had been arrested in Uzbekistan and deported to China.

On the surface, it seems yet another case of a Canadian in trouble overseas being abandoned by his government.

Yet there are wrinkles that make this story different from the outrage that happened to Bill Sampson -- framed in 2001 for murder in Saudi Arabia and sentenced to death, with the Canadian government preferring to believe Saudi protestations of their decency rather than the visual evidence of Sampson's torture.

Nor is Celil's case similar to that of Montreal photographer Zahra Kazemi, who in 2003 was raped and murdered by Iranian police who didn't realize she had a Canadian as well as an Iranian passport.

Celil's case is more curious. In 1994 he was arrested in China for activities on behalf of the Uighur people (one of China's 56 nationalities) and was sentenced to death in absentia after he escaped to Turkey .

In Turkey he applied for (and got) admission to Canada in 2001 as a refugee. He settled in Burlington with his wife and began siring children -- four, at this count.

Celil is Muslim and was an imam at the Burlington mosque. In fact, his ardent religious activism is what got him into trouble in China.

What are the Uighurs, you might ask? There are up to 10 million of them world-wide, most of them converts to Islam, and most of them living in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. About a million live in China's northwestern province of Xinjiang.

China views the Uighur independence movement as terrorism. Thus their antipathy to Celil.

The question begs: Wotinell was Celil doing in Uzbekistan, apart from visiting his wife's relatives?

Is the guy nuts -- a refugee, given sanctuary by a generous Canadian government going back into where trouble awaits while his family exists on welfare?

Four sons since 2001 are evidence that he's spent some time in Burlington, but clearly he was up to something questionable in Uzbekistan (hardly a Jeffersonian democracy).

Since he has dual Chinese and Canadian citizenship, he surely should have known the chance he was taking.

The Uighurs have a tortured history. Their region was known as Eastern Turkestan before being conquered by China's Manchu armies in 1921.

The Soviet Union pushed communism on the Uighurs, who also subscribed to Islam. The men take multiple wives (contrary to Chinese law) and males are considered adults at 12, girls at 9.

Although Uighurs are not "terrorists" by our definition, they are a nuisance to the Chinese, and Hussein Celil seems more than an Islamic pacifist doing his bit in Central Asia to promote world peace.

At Guantanamo Bay, some 22 of the original 700 al-Qaida suspects were Uighurs -- most of whom have since been released as they have no apparent argument with America.

The question raised by the Celil and other cases, is why should Canada give refuge to those with no allegiance to Canada who are bent on clandestine activities in other countries?

Celil's wife survives on welfare and gripes Canada is lax in helping her man, who has landed in the chow mein when he should have known better.

Technically he's a Canadian citizen -- but also a Chinese citizen. Whatever he was doing in China (and in Uzbekistan) might have been legal in Canada but was not in those countries, which have a lousy record for human rights.

Celil may not be a terrorist, as the Chinese claim, but it's hard to see why Canada should feel responsible for this guy whose allegiance is elsewhere.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Counting the cost of expansion

Counting the cost of expansion

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

China's push into western hinterlands has left many on the land feeling marginalized, writes Don Lee

Not too long ago, Kashgar was a sleepy town with mud houses, largely unchanged since Marco Polo trekked through in the 13th century.

But now, this frontier town, like other outposts in China's far west, is booming with oil, cotton, coal and trade. Trains, new highways and an international airport are bringing thousands of people from neighboring Pakistan who want to take in the tourist sites and buy inexpensive Chinese goods.

A few months ago, oil from Kazakhstan arrived by way of a new 965-kilometer pipeline financed by energy- hungry China. Trade with neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is breaking records.

China's soaring economy is often pictured in gleaming skyscrapers in coastal cities. But like America's Westward Ho of the 1800s, Beijing's Go West campaign of the past decade is transforming vast swaths of Central Asia by opening up China's western hinterlands, populated by millions of minority peoples. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese have flocked there, hoping to cash in with new construction jobs and business ventures.

Beijing, analysts say, is pushing west with two clear motives: to spread economic development and to keep in check Tibetans and, in Xinjiang region, the Uygurs, Muslims of Turkic descent. About nine million Uygurs live in Xinjiang, and over the years, separatist groups have clashed violently with Chinese forces, demanding independence and religious freedom.

For now, Beijing seems to have strengthened its economic and political grip in the region. While China has been a caldron of unrest, with 87,000 sometimes-violent protests nationwide last year, there has been no large-scale rioting in Xinjiang in two years, according to experts who track such activity.

Human-rights groups have accused the Chinese of taking advantage of America's war on terrorism, following the attacks on September 11, 2001, to increase repression of Uygurs. Beijing has repeatedly denied the claim, even as it has cracked down on Uygur activists and successfully lobbied the United States to label as terrorists a group of militant Uygurs in Xinjiang.

Although Beijing has used guns and force in the past to restrain Uygurs, in its arsenal of late have been people such as Wong Sonok, a merchant trader from Shenzhen in southeast China.

Marco Polo is said to have found Kashgar an oasis when he arrived there in 1275 on his journey through the Silk Road. When Wong arrived in 1998, there were more donkey carts than taxis in the city's mostly dirt roads. Kashgar and other areas of Xinjiang were still smoldering from rioting, bus bombings and assassinations in which scores of people were killed and injured.

The streets have since quieted. Today, the 50-year-old Wong sits behind a stately desk, overseeing the construction of an entrepot and international trading center similar to China's giant wholesale market in Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province, where more than 3,000 foreign traders flock daily.

Some of those traders in Yiwu travel from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Wong's US$50 million (HK$390 million) International Trade City in Kashgar will shorten their trip. "We're creating a bridge to Central Asia," he says.

Beijing has provided US$15 billion for roads, dams and power transmission lines. State-owned energy companies have kicked in billions more, helping to pay for the pipeline from Kazakhstan's Caspian coast.

Xinjiang may be the linchpin of Beijing's push westward. The region is the size of Alaska, occupying one-sixth of China's land mass. Its climate and terrain is as varied as California's, with deserts and towering mountain ranges. Xinjiang is rich in coal and cotton, fruits and wine.

Although government figures on migration are not available, at least 180,000 Chinese from one distant province alone, Zhejiang, are estimated to have settled and started businesses in Xinjiang, many in the past decade.

The Han Chinese account for more than 90 percent of China's population and about 40 percent of Xinjiang's almost 20 million residents, according to the latest figures from Beijing. Apart from Arabic signs in Uygur enclaves, Urumqi, the region's capital, resembles most Chinese cities, with an abundance of pale apartment buildings, a People's Square in the center of town and KFCs sprinkled throughout.

Residents say Beijing's ongoing campaign has chilled Uygurs' hopes for an independent state. Many Uygurs declined to be interviewed, fearful of reprisals from police. Others said it was better to toe the line and secure economic gains, rather than spend time on political activities that would be quickly quashed.

The Uygurs in Xinjiang are in a "silent, pragmatic period," said Joanne Smith, a Uygur expert at Britain's Newcastle University.

In Kashgar, narrow alleys that meander through earthen houses are redolent of lamb and naan bread, sold by bearded skull-capped old men. Young craftsmen with their fathers sit in stalls fashioning bronze pots and Turkish long-neck lutes.

Inside a small storefront up a narrow alley, Abilkem, a lanky 22-year-old with a thin mustache, was behind a counter, facing a bank of nine red telephones, three of them for international calling. Ablikem, who like many Uygurs goes by one name, said business has been bustling with tourists and foreign visitors.

Some Uygur merchants are prospering from a rise in Chinese tourists and expanding trade with Central Asia.

But many Uygurs, especially those older, cannot communicate in Putonghua; they speak a Turkish language and read Arabic. That makes it tough to get jobs at Chinese companies.

Officially, the registered unemployment in Xinjiang, like many provinces of China, has been a steady 4 percent for years. But the streets tell a different picture.

In Kashgar's People's Park, Uygurs young and old sit forlornly on benches under trees in the middle of a hot afternoon. Chinese merchants nearby sell drinks and snacks. A lone Uygur peddles plum juice for 5 US cents a bowl.

Across the street, a 26-meter-high stone statue of Mao, said to be the tallest in all of China, reminds everyone who is in charge. LOS ANGELES TIMES

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Jailed Uyghur student has Todai on his side

Jailed Uyghur student has Todai on his side


Tohti Tunyaz

Tsugitaka Sato, a University of Tokyo (Todai) professor emeritus, is determined to see one of his students freed from an 11-year term in a Chinese prison for inciting unrest.

Sato traveled to the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in western China in late July to campaign for the release of Tohti Tunyaz, 46, a Uyghur who was a student of Sato's in Japan until 1998, when he was arrested on a visit home.

Authorities say he was involved in the Xinjiang region independence movement.

Sato, 63, an expert on Islamic regions, spent about a week in the capital of Urumqi, petitioning officials on Tohti's behalf.

It was Sato's fourth visit to Urumqi since the arrest.

"I was unable to see him. But it is important to show to the Chinese authorities that we are still greatly concerned about this," said Sato.

Tohti entered the University of Tokyo's graduate school in 1995. He traveled home to Xinjiang Uyghur three years later to look for historical documents to support his thesis about China's policies toward the country's ethnic minorities.

He was arrested a few weeks after arriving there.

Chinese authorities alleged that Tohti planned to publish a book that would encourage the Xinjiang independence movement. His trial took two years.

In 2000, he was found guilty of inciting national disunity and sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Supreme Court.

Since then, the University of Tokyo has continued to lobby for his release. Successive presidents of the university have written letters to Chinese leaders to ask for Tohti's release.

"Tohti was critical of the independence movement. He did not plan to publish a book. His arrest is based on misunderstandings," the letters state.

When Sato retired three years ago, the university appointed another professor as Tohti's adviser, listing the imprisoned student as "temporarily absent" in its student rolls.

"The university is renewing his record every year so that whenever he is released, he can resume his studies. We are not going to forget this incident," Sato said.(IHT/Asahi: August 30,2006)

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A family's fate hinges on Chinese justice

A family's fate hinges on Chinese justice



A day after giving birth, Kamila Telendibaeva sat alone in the corner of a cold hospital room gazing at her newborn son.

Bound tightly in a white blanket, the infant slept soundly as his mother chewed on the nail of her index finger.

"He's got his daddy's eyes," Ms. Telendibaeva said, clad in a blue housecoat and a leopard-print veil. "It makes me think of him, and it's hard."

This was the fourth time the 29-year-old had given birth, but the first time she did it alone, without her husband by her side.

For more than two months, Huseyin Celil (pronounced je-lil) has sat in a Chinese jail cell facing charges for alleged involvement in separatist activities supposedly dating back to the early 1990s, when he lived in the country's far-western Xinjiang region.

In March, the Canadian citizen was arrested in Uzbekistan while visiting his wife's family. Three months later, he was extradited to China, accused of terrorist activities and killing a Chinese government official in Kyrgyzstan in March of 2000.

His family and his lawyer vehemently deny the allegations, saying Mr. Celil was in Turkey waiting for refugee status in 2000. His wife admits he was politically active in his homeland and had spoken out against China, but says he had never been violent and is certainly not a terrorist.

But they likely won't get a chance to defend him. Chinese officials are keeping Mr. Celil's whereabouts secret, saying only that his trial is not yet complete. China has denied the Canadian government consular access to him, which contradicts the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The ordeal has taken its toll on the Burlington, Ont., family.

With the birth of the baby, who will be one week old tomorrow, Ms. Telendibaeva now has four sons and raising them is a full-time job. Her eldest, seven-year-old Mohammad, is developmentally disabled and uses a wheelchair. He cannot bathe himself or eat without assistance. Ms. Telendibaeva's mother has flown to Canada on a six-month visa to help.

With no breadwinner, finances are quickly drying up. The family survives on $600 a month in welfare payments. Amid the chaos of single parenthood, Ms. Telendibaeva says she is always thinking about her husband, constantly wondering where he is, how he is and if he's ever coming home.

The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains it is actively working to find out where Mr. Celil is being held and precisely what charges he's facing, and to ensure he has adequate representation.

So far, diplomatic efforts have gotten nowhere. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay raised Mr. Celil's case during a meeting last month with his Chinese counterpart. But the minister was brushed off, receiving no information about the Canadian in custody.

Wayne Marston, NDP critic for international affairs, is slamming the government for not doing enough. He's calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to personally get involved in the case and send a special envoy to China in search of answers.

"I can't fathom why Mr. Harper wouldn't come to the aid of a Canadian citizen," said Mr. Marston, MP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. "It's baffling to me. We have a Canadian citizen here who is under the threat of death. What further extreme do you need to pull out all the stops to try to help?"

Before his detainment, Mr. Celil was an imam at a Hamilton mosque. He was a popular mentor to young pupils and was studying accounting at Mohawk College, his wife said.

Three weeks ago, the family thought they had struck a lead in the case when Mr. Celil's sister in China was told by a local police officer that her brother was being held in either Kashgar or Urumqi, cities in Xinjiang region. But Canadian officials have been unable to confirm the rumour.

Chinese officials told Ottawa this month they are not seeking the death penalty, although the country has sentenced Mr. Celil to death once before. In 1994, he was arrested in China on charges of forming a political party to work on behalf of the Uyghur people, a Muslim, Turkic-language minority group long at odds with China over the right to greater freedom.

After serving a month in prison, Mr. Celil escaped, eventually buying false documents to enter Uzbekistan, his wife said. He made his way to Turkey before being granted refugee status in Canada in 2001. Meanwhile, in China, a court sentenced Mr. Celil to death in absentia for his alleged role in the anti-government political movement.

The family's lawyer said he worries more about Mr. Celil's condition with each passing day.

"My private fear is that he's not in the shape to be seen and that's why they're denying access to him," said Chris MacLeod, alluding to the possibility of torture.

More than a month ago, Mr. MacLeod wrote a letter to the Chinese ambassador to Canada, requesting a visa so he could visit his client in jail. There has been no response.

Government officials in Canada have also been tight-lipped on the case, rarely commenting publicly and often having little to say.

"The minister is following this case very closely," said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ambra Dickie. "We continue to maintain regular contact with Mr. Celil's family in Canada. The minister, Mr. MacKay, has personally met with his wife."

But that was more than four months ago, when Mr. Celil was being held in Uzbekistan. "I met with [Mr. MacKay] for 15 minutes and he said he would do everything he could to get him out," Ms. Telendibaeva said.

"He told me they would try to get Russia to put pressure on China. But he did not do enough."

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat based in China, believes Canada is steadily losing negotiating power as time drags on.

"The whole case hasn't been handled very well and I'm very concerned about Mr. Celil," said Mr. Burton, a professor of political science at Ontario's Brock University. "In the Chinese system, once someone comes up for trial it's very unusual for them to be declared not guilty. If he is found guilty, the question is what the nature of the punishment will be."

Mr. Burton said China has used the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to crack down on the Uyghur minority, aiming to convince the international community that the group promotes terrorism.

"Since 9/11 there are blurred lines between what's considered political activity, what's separatism and the Chinese government calls terrorism," he said. "The Chinese government wants the West to believe Uyghurs are terrorists. But there is no empirical evidence of this."

If Ms. Telendibaeva could get one message to her husband it would be that he has another son, and that the baby is named Zubeyir, the name he liked. Family friends suggested she name the child after his father, but Ms. Telendibaeva refused.

"I won't do that. I don't want to replace him because I still have hope that he's coming home," she said defiantly.

But as weeks turn into months without word on his condition, she cannot help but lose some of that hope as the reality of the situation sets in. She may never see her husband again. He may never see his child. And she knows that.

Article Source

Monday, August 28, 2006

Double Opportunity in China's Far West (LA Times)

Double Opportunity in China's Far West
Beijing seeks growth, analysts say, but also control of separatists.
By Don Lee
Times Staff Writer

August 28, 2006

WAITING: Tourism has boomed along with industry in western China. An ethnic Uighur man in Urumqi, one of millions of minorities in the Xinjiang region, offers his camel as a photo op. (Don Lee / LAT)

KASHGAR, China — Not too long ago, Kashgar was a sleepy town with mud houses, largely unchanged since Marco Polo trekked through in the 13th century.

But now this frontier town and other outposts in China's far west are booming with oil, cotton, coal and trade. Trains, new highways and an international airport are bringing thousands of people from neighboring Pakistan who want to take in the tourist sites and buy inexpensive Chinese goods.

A few months ago, oil from Kazakhstan arrived in the region by way of a new 600-mile pipeline financed by energy-hungry China. Trade with neighbors Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan is breaking records.

China's soaring economy is most often illustrated by gleaming skyscrapers in coastal cities. But the nation's economic growth is also evident in other ways: Like America's Westward Ho of the 1800s, Beijing's Go West campaign of the last decade is transforming vast swaths of Central Asia by opening up the western hinterlands, populated by millions of ethnic minorities.

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese have flocked here, hoping to cash in on construction jobs and business ventures.

The Chinese government, analysts say, is pushing west with two clear motives: to spread economic development, and to keep in check Tibetans and, here in the Xinjiang region, the Uighurs, Muslims of Turkic descent. About 9 million Uighurs live in Xinjiang, and over the years separatist groups have clashed with Chinese forces, demanding independence and religious freedom.

For now, Beijing seems to have strengthened its economic and political grip on the region. Although China has been a caldron of unrest, with 87,000 protests nationwide last year, there has been no large-scale rioting in Xinjiang in two years, experts who track such activity say.

Human rights groups have accused the Chinese government of taking advantage of the U.S.-declared war on terrorism to increase its repression of Uighurs. Beijing has denied the claim, even as it has cracked down on Uighur activists and successfully lobbied the United States to label as terrorists a group of militant Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Although Beijing has used guns and force to restrain Uighurs, its arsenal of late has included people such as Wong So Nok, a merchant from Shenzhen in southeastern China.

Marco Polo is said to have found Kashgar an oasis when he arrived in 1275 on his journey along the Silk Road.

When Wong arrived in 1998, there were more donkey carts than taxis on the city's mostly dirt roads. Kashgar and other areas of Xinjiang were still smoldering from rioting, bus bombings and slayings that left scores of victims.

Today, the 50-year-old Wong sits behind a stately desk overseeing the construction of an international trading center similar to the giant wholesale market in Yiwu in the eastern province of Zhejiang, where more than 3,000 foreign traders flock daily.

Some of those traders in Yiwu travel from Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Wong's $50-million International Trade City in Kashgar will shorten their trip.

"We're creating a bridge to Central Asia," Wong said.

Beijing has spent $15 billion on roads, dams and power lines. State-owned energy companies have kicked in billions more, helping to pay for the 600-mile pipeline from Kazakhstan's Caspian coast.

Beijing's efforts to tap Kazakhstan's growing oil production in the Caspian Sea fields could present a challenge to U.S. energy interests there, some analysts said.

Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that America is increasingly being isolated in the region while China cements relations.

Beijing is making a similar effort to develop and exert greater influence in Tibet. Last month, China inaugurated a train line to the snowcapped plateaus of Tibet.

Xinjiang may be the linchpin of Beijing's push westward. The region is the size of Alaska, occupying one-sixth of China's land. Its climate and terrain are as varied as California's, with deserts and towering mountains. Xinjiang produces coal, cotton, fruits and wine.

Although government figures on migration aren't available, at least 180,000 Chinese from one distant province alone, Zhejiang, are estimated to have settled and started businesses in Xinjiang, many in the last decade.

The Han Chinese account for more than 90% of China's population and about 40% of Xinjiang's almost 20 million residents, according to the latest figures from Beijing. Western scholars think there are many more Han Chinese in Xinjiang than official statistics show.

Their influx has transformed Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Apart from Arabic signs in Uighur enclaves, Urumqi resembles most Chinese cities, with an abundance of pale apartment buildings, a People's Square in the center of town and KFCs sprinkled throughout.

Residents say Beijing's ongoing campaign has chilled Uighurs' hopes for an independent state. Many Uighurs declined to be interviewed, fearful of reprisals from police. Others said that it was better to toe the line and secure economic gains, rather than spend time on political activities that would be quickly quashed.

The Uighurs in Xinjiang are in a "silent, pragmatic period," said Joanne Smith, a Uighur expert at Britain's Newcastle University. Xinjiang government officials declined to comment.

In Kashgar, narrow alleys that meander through earthen houses are redolent of lamb and naan, sold by bearded old men in skullcaps. Young craftsmen and their fathers sit in stalls, fashioning bronze pots and Turkish long-neck lutes.

Inside a small storefront up a narrow alley, Abilkem, a lanky 22-year-old with a thin mustache, was behind a counter facing a bank of nine red telephones, three of them used for international calls.

Abilkem, who, like many Uighurs, goes by one name, said business had been bustling with tourists and foreign visitors.

The most frequent calls are to Pakistan, for which Abilkem charges 40 cents a minute. He said he made a $100 profit each month.

The Chinese may not understand the Uighurs entirely. But Wang Shaoming, a senior manager at Xinjiang Esquel Textile, a Hong Kong group with factories in Xinjiang, measures economic progress by the shirts on his back.

Wang moved to Urumqi as a boy in 1966 with his parents, who, like millions of Chinese soldiers, were sent to Xinjiang by Mao Tse-tung to support economic and military projects in the west.

After graduating from college in the mid-1980s with a major in textiles, Wang began work in the garment trade. At the time, he said, China didn't have the know-how to make quality shirts. He earned enough to buy one or two cotton shirts. The 45-year-old says he now wears cotton Oxfords like socks, changing them every day.

Xinjiang Esquel's factory in Urumqi supplies the fabric for the shirts, processing local and imported cotton, including pima from California.

But if Wang can afford a closet full of shirts, his 1,000 factory workers can't.

Most city dwellers in Xinjiang earned about $1,000 after taxes last year, up 8% from 2004. But average urban income nationwide rose 11% to $1,300. Between Han Chinese and Uighurs, the divide is wider.

Some Uighur merchants are prospering from a rise in Chinese tourists and expanding trade with Central Asia. But many Uighurs, especially the elderly, can't communicate in Mandarin; they speak a Turkic language and read Arabic. That makes it tough to get jobs at Chinese companies.

State-owned enterprises are known to restrict Uighurs from growing facial hair or praying in the workplace. Uighurs say some employers require them to pay for jobs.

Officially, the unemployment rate in Xinjiang, like many provinces of China, has been 4% for years. But the streets tell a different story.

In Kashgar's People's Park, Uighurs young and old sit forlornly on benches under trees in the middle of a hot afternoon. Chinese merchants sell drinks and snacks. A lone Uighur peddles plum juice for 5 cents a bowl.

Across the street, an 85-foot stone statue of Mao, said to be the tallest in China, reminds everyone who is in charge.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

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China's Uyghur Muslims

China's Uyghur Muslims
CBC News Viewpoint
August 28, 2006

Ashifa Kassam After years of experience in the field of human rights and social justice issues in Canada, Ashifa Kassam started to wonder how others around the world have been coping with their own challenges. With the intent of satisfying her curiosity, she is currently traveling across continents to volunteer with various grassroots development organizations. Originally from Calgary and educated at Queen's University, this freelance writer and activist aims to tell stories that will take readers far beyond tourism.

Devotional chants ring out all around me. The walls of this ancient mosque resonate in harmony with these chants, rewarding the hundreds of people deep in prayer with an atmosphere of surreal calm.

This calm contrasts sharply with the hectic city that lies just beyond the mosque's steps. Chaotic, narrow lanes that lead into the mosque are crammed with vendors selling everything from Muslim food to Chairman Mao memorabilia. Giant billboards adorned with skinny models and Mandarin phrases stare down at the pedestrians who crowd the streets. Kites fly above the whole scene, painting the last bit of untouched landscape with dozens of bright colours.

I am in Xian, once the capital of China and home to the Great Mosque of Xian. Built in the 18th century, this mosque is the hub of activity for the more than 60,000 Muslims who live in Xian. As this is one of the largest mosques in China, it is the most prominent clue regarding the story of Muslims in China. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 20 million to 40 million Muslims currently living in China.

The first recorded arrival of Muslims in China was in 650 A.D. Although the Muslim envoy failed at their mission to convert Emperor Gaozong of Tang China to Islam, the emperor demonstrated his respect by ordering the construction of the first Chinese mosque in the Tang capital city of Chang-an.

During the remainder of the Tang dynasty, and during the Song and Yuan dynasties, a steady stream of Muslims arrived from the Arab world, driven by trade opportunities along the Silk Road. This immigration slowed drastically during the Ming dynasty, isolating the Muslims in China from the rest of the Islamic world. As a result, these Muslims increasingly adopted the Chinese language, dress and surnames. The mosques of China, which are built using traditional Chinese architecture laden with Arabic devotional inscriptions indicate the extent to which these Muslims have integrated into Chinese society.

Collectively referred to as the Hui minority, these Muslims have been granted a certain degree of religious freedom in Communist China. But not all Muslims in China have been so lucky. In the northwest corner of China lies the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), home to the Uyghur Muslim population. The most recent Chinese government census put the population of Uyghur Muslims in the XUAR at nine million, but Uyghur exile groups claim there are closer to 18 million Uyghur Muslims living in the region.

Similar to the Tibetans who live in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, the Uyghurs are the indigenous majority of the XUAR. Their unique culture is revealed by their Central Asian heritage, their distinct language and their devotion to Islam. Like the Tibetans, the Uyghurs claim their culture has been systematically eroded by the Chinese government since the People's Republic of China (PRC) declared the XUAR part of China in 1949. As in the case of the Tibetans, this claim has been echoed by human rights organizations ranging from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch.

But unlike the Tibetans, the Uyghurs have no charismatic leader-in-exile or celebrities in Hollywood to champion their cause. For this reason, few around the world ever hear the story of the Uyghur people.

In the late 1930s and late 1940s, the Uyghurs managed twice to declare an East Turkestan republic in the XUAR, but those successes were short lived. Since falling under Beijing's control, nationalist sentiments have continued to simmer in the XUAR, especially as the PRC continues their persecution of this ethnic group from every possible angle.

As Islam is the major feature underpinning the Uyghur culture, the PRC has taken strong measures to curb the religious practice of these Muslims. In contrast with the freedoms granted to the Hui minority, in the XUAR the PRC controls where religious gatherings may be held, who can be a cleric and what version of the Qu'ran may be used. Fasting is prohibited, in spite of being mandatory for Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Communist party members and anyone under the age of 18 are forbidden from participating in any religious activity. In order to enforce these rules, government officials keep all mosques in the XUAR under constant surveillance.

Other aspects of the Uyghur culture have been targeted as well. Many prominent Uyghur writers and poets are in jail, and history books that do not conform to the PRC-approved version of history have been banned. Despite the Uyghurs being the majority in the XUAR, the Chinese government recently changed laws to force all schools in the region to teach students in Mandarin rather than in Uyghur.

The Uyghurs have also been economically marginalized since the PRC began providing incentives for the Han population — the ethnic group that comprises the majority of China — to move to the resource-rich XUAR. In 1949, the official census placed the number of Han at six per cent of the population in the XUAR, but by 1978 that figure had climbed to 40 per cent. The Hans are always favoured for jobs and Uyghurs are often paid less than Hans who work the same jobs.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the treatment of the Uyghurs has worsened under the banner of the PRC´s commitment to the United States-led war against terror. Citing the strong nationalist sentiments that continue to exist among the Uyghur population in the XUAR, the PRC has labelled these peaceful farmers as an ethno-nationalist threat to the Chinese state. This classification is used to justify the continued marginalization of these people, in the name of "fighting terror."

This has led to an increasing number of arrests in the XUAR, most recently that of a Canadian citizen.

Huseyincan Celil fled China in the mid-1990´s and became a Canadian citizen in 2001. In absentia, China sentenced him to death on charges of organizing a political party to work on behalf of the Uyghur people. During a recent visit to relatives in Uzbekistan, he was extradited to China. The resident of Burlington, Ont., is now being held in a secret Chinese prison awaiting his sentence.

The Uyghur Canadian Association, arguing that Celil´s role in organizing the Uyghur people to demand their rights through non-violent means is protected by the UN´s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has appealed to the Canadian government to intervene on Celil´s behalf.

The Canadian government has tried to talk with the PRC about Celil, but their attempts have been met with silence. This silence doesn't bode well for Celil, and typifies the problem with silence that has plagued the Uyghur people for the last half-century.

For despite the fact that the Uyghurs remain the only people who continue to be executed on political charges by Chinese authorities, despite the rampant human-rights abuses that continue across the XUAR and despite the fact that the UN High Commissioner recently expressed her concern over the treatment of the Uyghurs by the PRC, the persecution of the Uyghurs in China remains a story that rarely finds an audience.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

A meeting of civilisations

A meeting of civilisations: The mystery of China's celtic mummies
The discovery of European corpses thousands of miles away suggests a hitherto unknown connection between East and West in the Bronze Age.

Clifford Coonan reports from Urumqi

Published: 28 August 2006

Solid as a warrior of the Caledonii tribe, the man's hair is reddish brown flecked with grey, framing high cheekbones, a long nose, full lips and a ginger beard. When he lived three thousand years ago, he stood six feet tall, and was buried wearing a red twill tunic and tartan leggings. He looks like a Bronze Age European. In fact, he's every inch a Celt. Even his DNA says so.

But this is no early Celt from central Scotland. This is the mummified corpse of Cherchen Man, unearthed from the scorched sands of the Taklamakan Desert in the far-flung region of Xinjiang in western China, and now housed in a new museum in the provincial capital of Urumqi. In the language spoken by the local Uighur people in Xinjiang, "Taklamakan" means: "You come in and never come out."

The extraordinary thing is that Cherchen Man was found - with the mummies of three women and a baby - in a burial site thousands of miles to the east of where the Celts established their biggest settlements in France and the British Isles.

DNA testing confirms that he and hundreds of other mummies found in Xinjiang's Tarim Basin are of European origin. We don't know how he got there, what brought him there, or how long he and his kind lived there for. But, as the desert's name suggests, it is certain that he never came out.

His discovery provides an unexpected connection between east and west and some valuable clues to early European history.

One of the women who shared a tomb with Cherchen Man has light brown hair which looks as if it was brushed and braided for her funeral only yesterday. Her face is painted with curling designs, and her striking red burial gown has lost none of its lustre during the three millenniums that this tall, fine-featured woman has been lying beneath the sand of the Northern Silk Road.

The bodies are far better preserved than the Egyptian mummies, and it is sad to see the infants on display; to see how the baby was wrapped in a beautiful brown cloth tied with red and blue cord, then a blue stone placed on each eye. Beside it was a baby's milk bottle with a teat, made from a sheep's udder.

Based on the mummy, the museum has reconstructed what Cherchen Man would have looked like and how he lived. The similarities to the traditional Bronze Age Celts are uncanny, and analysis has shown that the weave of the cloth is the same as that of those found on the bodies of salt miners in Austria from 1300BC.

The burial sites of Cherchen Man and his fellow people were marked with stone structures that look like dolmens from Britain, ringed by round-faced, Celtic figures, or standing stones. Among their icons were figures reminiscent of the sheela-na-gigs, wild females who flaunted their bodies and can still be found in mediaeval churches in Britain. A female mummy wears a long, conical hat which has to be a witch or a wizard's hat. Or a druid's, perhaps? The wooden combs they used to fan their tresses are familiar to students of ancient Celtic art.

At their peak, around 300BC, the influence of the Celts stretched from Ireland in the west to the south of Spain and across to Italy's Po Valley, and probably extended to parts of Poland and Ukraine and the central plain of Turkey in the east. These mummies seem to suggest, however, that the Celts penetrated well into central Asia, nearly making it as far as Tibet.

The Celts gradually infiltrated Britain between about 500 and 100BC. There was probably never anything like an organised Celtic invasion: they arrived at different times, and are considered a group of peoples loosely connected by similar language, religion, and cultural expression.

The eastern Celts spoke a now-dead language called Tocharian, which is related to Celtic languages and part of the Indo-European group. They seem to have been a peaceful folk, as there are few weapons among the Cherchen find and there is little evidence of a caste system.

Even older than the Cherchen find is that of the 4,000-year-old Loulan Beauty, who has long flowing fair hair and is one of a number of mummies discovered near the town of Loulan. One of these mummies was an eight-year-old child wrapped in a piece of patterned wool cloth, closed with bone pegs.

The Loulan Beauty's features are Nordic. She was 45 when she died, and was buried with a basket of food for the next life, including domesticated wheat, combs and a feather.

The Taklamakan desert has given up hundreds of desiccated corpses in the past 25 years, and archaeologists say the discoveries in the Tarim Basin are some of the most significant finds in the past quarter of a century.

"From around 1800BC, the earliest mummies in the Tarim Basin were exclusively Caucausoid, or Europoid," says Professor Victor Mair of Pennsylvania University, who has been captivated by the mummies since he spotted them partially obscured in a back room in the old museum in 1988. "He looked like my brother Dave sleeping there, and that's what really got me. Lying there with his eyes closed," Professor Mair said.
It's a subject that exercises him and he has gone to extraordinary lengths, dodging difficult political issues, to gain further knowledge of these remarkable people.

East Asian migrants arrived in the eastern portions of the Tarim Basin about 3,000 years ago, Professor Mair says, while the Uighur peoples arrived after the collapse of the Orkon Uighur Kingdom, based in modern-day Mongolia, around the year 842.

A believer in the "inter-relatedness of all human communities", Professor Mair resists attempts to impose a theory of a single people arriving in Xinjiang, and believes rather that the early Europeans headed in different directions, some travelling west to become the Celts in Britain and Ireland, others taking a northern route to become the Germanic tribes, and then another offshoot heading east and ending up in Xinjiang.

This section of the ancient Silk Road is one of the world's most barren precincts. You are further away from the sea here than at any other place, and you can feel it. This where China tests its nuclear weapons. Labour camps are scattered all around - who would try to escape? But the remoteness has worked to the archaeologists' advantage. The ancient corpses have avoided decay because the Tarim Basin is so dry, with alkaline soils. Scientists have been able to glean information about many aspects of our Bronze Age forebears from the mummies, from their physical make-up to information about how they buried their dead, what tools they used and what clothes they wore.

In her book The Mummies of Urumchi, the textile expert Elizabeth Wayland Barber examines the tartan-style cloth, and reckons it can be traced back to Anatolia and the Caucasus, the steppe area north of the Black Sea. Her theory is that this group divided, starting in the Caucasus and then splitting, one group going west and another east.

Even though they have been dead for thousands of years, every perfectly preserved fibre of the mummies' make-up has been relentlessly politicised.

The received wisdom in China says that two hundred years before the birth of Christ, China's emperor Wu Di sent an ambassador to the west to establish an alliance against the marauding Huns, then based in Mongolia. The route across Asia that the emissary, Zhang Qian, took eventually became the Silk Road to Europe. Hundreds of years later Marco Polo came, and the opening up of China began.

The very thought that Caucasians were settled in a part of China thousands of years before Wu Di's early contacts with the west and Marco Polo's travels has enormous political ramifications. And that these Europeans should have been in restive Xinjiang hundreds of years before East Asians is explosive.

The Chinese historian Ji Xianlin, writing a preface to Ancient Corpses of Xinjiang by the Chinese archaeologist Wang Binghua, translated by Professor Mair, says China "supported and admired" research by foreign experts into the mummies. "However, within China a small group of ethnic separatists have taken advantage of this opportunity to stir up trouble and are acting like buffoons. Some of them have even styled themselves the descendants of these ancient 'white people' with the aim of dividing the motherland. But these perverse acts will not succeed," Ji wrote.

Many Uighurs consider the Han Chinese as invaders. The territory was annexed by China in 1955, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region established, and there have been numerous incidents of unrest over the years. In 1997 in the northern city of Yining there were riots by Muslim separatists and Chinese security forces cracked down, with nine deaths. There are occasional outbursts, and the region remains very heavily policed.

Not surprisingly, the government has been slow to publicise these valuable historical finds for fear of fuelling separatist currents in Xinjiang.

The Loulan Beauty, for example, was claimed by the Uighurs as their symbol in song and image, although genetic testing now shows that she was in fact European.
Professor Mair acknowledges that the political dimension to all this has made his work difficult, but says that the research shows that the people of Xinjiang are a dizzying mixture. "They tend to mix as you enter the Han Dynasty. By that time the East Asian component is very noticeable," he says. "Modern DNA and ancient DNA show that Uighurs, Kazaks, Kyrgyzs, the peoples of central Asia are all mixed Caucasian and East Asian. The modern and ancient DNA tell the same story," he says.

Altogether there are 400 mummies in various degrees of desiccation and decomposition, including the prominent Han Chinese warrior Zhang Xiong and other Uighur mummies, and thousands of skulls. The mummies will keep the scientists busy for a long time. Only a handful of the better-preserved ones are on display in the impressive new Xinjiang museum. Work began in 1999, but was stopped in 2002 after a corruption scandal and the jailing of a former director for involvement in the theft of antiques.

The museum finally opened on the 50th anniversary of China's annexation of the restive region, and the mummies are housed in glass display cases (which were sealed with what looked like Sellotape) in a multi-media wing.

In the same room are the much more recent Han mummies - equally interesting, but rendering the display confusing, as it groups all the mummies closely together. Which makes sound political sense.

This political correctness continues in another section of the museum dedicated to the achievements of the Chinese revolution, and boasts artefacts from the Anti-Japanese War (1931-1945).

Best preserved of all the corpses is Yingpan Man, known as the Handsome Man, a 2,000-year-old Caucasian mummy discovered in 1995. He had a gold foil death mask - a Greek tradition - covering his blond, bearded face, and wore elaborate golden embroidered red and maroon wool garments with images of fighting Greeks or Romans.

The hemp mask is painted with a soft smile and the thin moustache of a dandy. Currently on display at a museum in Tokyo, the handsome Yingpan man was two metres tall (six feet six inches), and pushing 30 when he died. His head rests on a pillow in the shape of a crowing cockerel.

Article Sources

China Sows The Whirlwind: Implications of Hezbollah’s Iranian-Chinese Weapons

China Sows The Whirlwind: Implications of Hezbollah’s Iranian-Chinese Weapons

Strategy Center
by Richard Fisher, Jr.
Published on July 26th, 2006
Article Source

Israel has been surprised and dismayed in the last few weeks by the unexpectedly high quality of Hezbollah munitions, most notably rockets and missiles. While some of these are indigenous, a serious search for the origin of the improvements looks to lead to China—and, to a degree still difficult to assess, to Israel itself, which has shared with China a wide range of sensitive military technologies.

Iran’s ability to produce thousands of shorter-range "Katyusha" size or slightly larger artillery-size rockets that its proxy Hezbollah has used to rain down on Israel since July 12, 2006 is largely owed to Russian and North Korean technology transfers, Chinese technologies are probably involved as well.

Without a doubt, however, the July 14 near-catastrophic attack against the modern and stealthy Israeli corvette Hanit would not have been possible without the C-802//Noor anti-ship missile, the means to produce which were sold by China to Iran in the mid-1990s. The transfer should have triggered U.S. sanctions of the PRC under the 1992 Gore-McCain Act (Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act), but was ignored by the Clinton-Gore administration -- despite testimony from former U.S. Navy 5th Fleet commander Admiral Redd, echoed by State’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Einhorn, that the missiles presented "a 360-degree threat" to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, and House Resolution 105-304 (October 6, 1997) "Urging the Executive branch to take action regarding the acquisition by Iran of C-802 cruise missiles."[1]

This highly capable anti-ship missile is probably only one of many systems, the transfers of which show how Beijing has opened a genuine Pandora’s Box of proliferation possibilities in the Middle East.

Iran’s "box" of Chinese-assisted weapons now includes the Shahab series of medium range ballistic missiles, potential families of solid-fueled missiles, potential long-range land-attack cruise missiles, short-range anti-ship and man-launched anti-aircraft missiles, optically-guided missiles, deadly fast-rising naval mines and very-fast missile-armed attack ships. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that China has aided and enabled Iran’s nuclear weapons program

Through Hezbollah, Iran has only unleashed a small taste of its Chinese-aided arsenal. But its willingness to share very sophisticated weapons like the C-802 should provide warning that Iran is capable of doing much more.

A broad pattern

China has long been associated with the nuclear and missile programs of Pakistan, Iran and North Korea, and has provided all three with conventional weapons. But Beijing is rarely held responsible when these states either threaten or actually attack their neighbors.

Quite the opposite. In Washington the conventional wisdom is that, as a responsible international stakeholder, China is doing what she can to restrain the development by these and other states of high-technology weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

Yet one can reasonably conclude that Beijing believes her security interests are enhanced by helping Pakistan tie down Chinese rival India, North Korea to threaten Chinese rival Japan and to help Iran – with whom Beijing has inked over $200 billion in energy deals in the past two years -- to challenge the ever-fragile pro-Western consensus in the Middle East. By pretending to be willing to help control these states—in return for American concessions—Beijing furthermore has acquired leverage over Washington.

Weapons partially of Chinese origin also enhance the aid both Pakistan and Iran provide to tolerated or directly sponsored terrorist and sub-state groups in order to indirectly attack adversaries with less risk of retaliation. Pakistan has done so through the A.Q. Khan network, and Iran through its direct support of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s current leader Hassan Nasrallah was an early graduate of Iranian training camps.[2] In the mid-1990s reports emerged of Iran’s efforts to arm Hezbollah via Syria and Turkey.[3] Since Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah has armed and prepared for renewed conflict. It has constructed scores of deep underground bunkers, fortified defenses in Southern Lebanon, sent 3,000 troops to be trained in Iran, to include 50 pilots, and has armed itself with an estimated 11,500 missiles, mainly short-range "Katyusha" types from Iran.[4] While for several years there have been reports that Hezbollah had longer range Iranian artillery rockets like the 75-km range Fadjr-5 and the 160km range Zelzal, there was no warning that Iran had given Hezbollah sophisticated guided missiles like the C-802/Noor.

C-802 Surprise

On July 14 at about 8pm local time, about 16km off the coast of Lebanon, the Israeli SAAR-5 class corvette Hanit suffered considerable damage and the loss of four crew members after being attacked by what Israeli sources identified as a C-802 anti-ship cruise missile (ASM), apparently fired by Hezbollah forces. It appears that Israeli intelligence was not aware that Hezbollah had such missiles.[5] As the Hanit’s crew was not expecting such an attack, major defensive systems like its Barak-1 and Phalanx anti-missile systems were not active, and the crew reportedly only had 20 seconds warning to realize and then respond to the missile.[6] The C-802 apparently did not strike the Hanit, but exploded above it with enough force to create a hole in the stern helicopter flight deck, damaging the underlying ship control systems.[7] This would appear to confirm earlier Chinese illustrations that the 165kg warhead of this missile consists of many shaped-charges designed to project explosive energy through a greater proportion of a ship’s structure. Had the missile scored a direct hit there would have been far greater damage and loss of life on the Hanit. In addition, a second C-802 was launched but did not strike the Israeli ship, instead finding a Cambodian-registered freighter and killing 11 Egyptian crewmen.

(C-802/Noor: This Chinese-designed, Iranian-made missile is believed to have been used on July 14 to attack the Israeli corvette Hanit, causing the death of four of its crew. Credit: Internet Sources)

What is not known is when and how Iran managed to convey its C-802 anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah forces. But in the mid-1990s China began enabling Iran to co-produce the 40km range C-801 rocket-propelled ASM, with one Iranian code-name Tondar, and the 120km range turbojet-propelled C-802 ASM, Iranian code-named Noor. The Noor has been displayed publicly and Iran may even have a longer 200km range version of this missile. An air-launched version of this missile is carried by Iranian Air Force Sukhoi Su-24 and McDonnell Douglas F-4 fighter bombers. Iran tested an air-launched version of the C-801 in 1997.[8] In late March 2006 during the naval exercise Holy Prophet, an Iranian forces Russian-build Mil Mi-17 helicopter launched a Noor ASM. Given Iran’s training of Hezbollah pilots, it might be expected that Iran could transfer C-802 armed helicopters to the terrorist group.

(Tactical Precision Options: C-701 and TL Series)

In the flurry of initial reports, especially given the relatively small amount of damage done to the Hanit, it was reasonable to conclude that Hezbollah had not fired a C-802 but perhaps the smaller and 15-20km range Chinese C-701 missile, also believed to be manufactured in Iran. During the Holy Prophet exercise Iran had publicly fired a new radar-guided version of the C-701. This missile was originally marketed with an optical seeker. In 2004 it was revealed that China’s Hongdu aircraft company and Iran had cooperated to produce two other types of short-range missiles. The JJ/TL-10A and JJ/TL-10B are respectively, TV and radar-guided versions of a 4-18km range anti-ship missile. The KJ/TL-6B is a larger 35km range radar-guided anti-ship missile.[9]

(Iranian C-701: This Chinese missile, now believe to be made in Iran, was seen being fired during the early 2006 Holy Prophet exercises. Credit: Internet Sources)

The smaller size of these missiles enables greater flexibility; they can be more easily concealed and launched from ground, ship or helicopter platforms. As the C-701 has been marketed with a modern millimeter-wave radar, it has an all-weather strike potential. In addition, Iran, and potentially Hezbollah, have the option of using optically-guided C-701 or JJ/TL-6B missiles to undertake precision-strike missions. This is particularly critical for Israel, which has long been reforming its armed forces, especially its Army, to incorporate greater use of information technologies which enables shorter decision cycles, and the reduction and centralization of command and control nodes. With these Chinese-designed missiles Hezbollah may in the future be able to better target critical Israeli information nodes, thus negating their benefits.

(JJ/TL-6A/B: This is another Chinese-designed missile now believed to be made in Iran. The optically guided version could be used by Hezbollah for precision strikes in Northern Israel. Credit: RD Fisher)

Artillery Rockets With Greater Precision

On July 23 Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that Hezbollah has fired about 2,200 rockets into Israel.[10] Save for the two C-802 missiles fired at the Hanit, all other missiles, despite their destructive and psychological impact, are nonetheless relatively simple non-precision guided projectiles. Even the longer-range Fadjr-5 and Zelzal rockets, with their potential even to reach Tel Aviv, are non-precision missiles with destructiveness dependent upon chance. Still, anyone who thinks of the havoc wrought by the V-1s and V-2s against England sixty years ago must be concerned even by such relatively simple systems.

But what if Iran were to obtain the ability to give these missiles, or even longer-range solid-fuel missiles, the near-pinpoint precision of navigation satellite guidance? Potential Chinese-Iranian cooperation could yield missiles that would allow Hezbollah to target with precision critical Israeli military targets, and even political targets like the Knesset. According to one report in 1997 China supplied Iran with solid fuel rocket motor technology that it then applied to its 210km range Fateh/Zelzal 2 short-range ballistic missile.[11] China is currently marketing the 240km range WS-2, an artillery rocket that has been upgraded with satellite navigation guidance systems. And in 2004 China began marketing the larger 150km range B-611, a cooperative program with Turkey that may also yield a 250km range version. The B-611 uses a stealthy shape to counter missile-defenses while also utilizing navigation-satellite guidance. Instead of buying these missiles, Iran could also opt to simply purchase Chinese guidance and stealth shaping technologies to apply to its own artillery and SRBM programs.

(WS-2 and B-611: These navigation satellite guided missiles do not violate Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) guidelines, but could nonetheless provide technologies that would give far more destructive power to Iran’s and then Hezbollah’s long-range artillery rockets).

Longer Range Cruise Missiles

Iran’s surprise provision to Hezbollah of C-802 cruise missiles raises the prospect of Iran’s potential future provision of even longer-range cruise and ballistic missiles. For a group like Hezbollah such missiles have the advantage of being easier to conceal, an ability to launch from ground and ship platforms, while avoiding the vulnerability of requiring open fueling like Iran’s SCUD or Shahab liquid-fuel ballistic missiles. In 2002 Iran, China and Pakistan were able to obtain Soviet-built Raduga Kh-55 long-range land attack cruise missiles (LACM) from Ukraine. Iran reportedly received twelve while China was able to obtain six and two for Pakistan. This technology apparently helped Pakistan to test its Babur LACM in 2005, and according to an Indian analyst, it also aided Iran’s development of a similar LACM, called the Project 111 or Ghadr.[12] China, which has been researching and developing advanced LACMs since the 1970s, may have played a role, either directly or indirectly, in the Iranian and Pakistani LACMs. At a minimum, the speed at which Pakistan was able to field the Babur suggests the high likelihood of Chinese help, consistent with previous Chinese assistance for Pakistan’s Shaheen and Ghauri ballistic missiles. Reports that Turkey has approached Pakistan for Babur technology[13] suggests that competition for sales is not above these LACM co-developers, raising the prospect that North Korea has received this technology from Iran, Pakistan or both. And once Iran perfects this technology then it too will have the option of giving it to its Hezbollah proxy and others.

Pakistan’s Babur: This cruise missile may be similar to Iran’s version, reportedly called the Ghadr. Credit: Internet source

Perhaps a more immediate "cruise missile" threat might come from Iranian small unmanned aircraft (UAV). Hezbollah’s 2004 use of Iranian-made UAVs to penetrate Israeli airspace proved shocking to Israelis. And in the initial flurry of reports it was mistakenly believed that the Hanit had been hit by an explosive-armed UAV.[14] For Iran, China is but one potential source for UAV technologies, which increasingly rely on many dual use systems produced around the world.[15]

But it is curious, to say the least, that in 2006 Iran revealed a new UAV that bears a striking resemblance to the Israeli Aircraft Industries Harpy anti-radar drone. Israel sold the Harpy to China in the early 1990s, and it was Israel’s intention to respond to a Chinese request to upgrade these UAVs in late 2004 that sparked a crisis in U.S.-Israeli military-political relations. While there are no official statements that would confirm that China used Israeli technology to help the new Iranian drone, its configuration at least suggests this possibility. But what cannot be denied is that Iran has another potential weapon with which to arm Hezbollah—one that can more readily target radar and other electronic devices upon which the Israeli armed forces are becoming more dependent.

Iran’s new anti-radar drone: Shows a similarity to the Israeli Harpy anti-radar UAV. Hezbollah could use such a weapon to directly attack Israel’s information-technology dependent military forces. Credit: Internet Sources

Deadly Naval Weapons

Hezbollah’s potential Chinese-Iranian arsenal also includes deadly naval weapons. Since the mid-1990s Iran has been reported to have modern Chinese naval mines. One mine that has long caused some concern is the Chinese EM-52 rocket-propelled fast-rising mine. When the mine detects its target, it fires a missile with a large warhead. Such mines are designed to severely damage or sink large warships like aircraft carriers. With such mines Hezbollah could threaten ships now evacuating refugees from Lebanon. Or should American or European navies become engaged in strikes against Hezbollah, it would be able to retaliate by covertly deploying these mines near U.S. or European naval facilities.

China’s EM-52 Fast-Rising Mine: Hezbollah could destroy large refugee ships or large U.S. naval warships with this mine, believed to have been sold to Iran in the mid-1990s. Credit: Chinese Internet

Will China Also Reap The Whirlwind ?

So far China’s practice of proxy warfare has allowed it to project power and build political influence while avoiding responsibility and retaliation. To be sure, India is building longer-range nuclear armed missiles that can reach Beijing while Japan accelerates its military and missile defense cooperation with the United States, but neither would today consider attacking China. By the same token, there are few to no voices in Israel who accuse China having a hand in Hezbollah’s ability to target Israelis or the looming ability of Iran to pose the greatest threat to the existence of the Jewish state. Until the Clinton and Bush Administrations strong-armed Israel into ending its sale of military technology to China, there were many in the Israeli establishment who openly supported such sales for both economic and strategic reasons.[16] It was even believed by some that selling such military technology to China would prevent it from selling some ballistic missiles to its neighbors.[17] The use of Chinese weapons against the Hanit now exposes the fallacy of such notions; China very likely lacks the ability, even if it had the desire, to halt Iran’s proliferation of deadly Chinese weapons technologies.

Since about the late 1980s successive American administrations have sought to convince China not to sell nuclear and missile technologies to rogue or terror supporting states. The United States has levied scores of sanctions against Chinese companies selling missile and weapons of mass destruction technologies to Iran. However it is not apparent that China intends to stop such sales and Beijing seems to have little care when Pakistan A.Q. Khan traffics in Chinese nuclear weapons technology or Iran gives its missiles to Hezbollah, which then uses them to kill Israelis. Pakistan’s unwillingness or inability to safeguard its Chinese nuclear weapons technology may be matched by a similar unwillingness by Iran, as suggested by its transfer of Chinese C-802 ASMs to Hezbollah.

It is thus legitimate to pose the question: When will U.S. and other policy makers enforce a higher price for China’s proliferation of such weapons; before or after they become victims to Chinese nuclear or missile technologies that have fallen into the hands of terrorists? And must Chinese leaders experience similar education before they realize the whirlwind they sow they also can reap?

As for Israel, which has done so much to improve Chinese military capabilities, her policy of assisting China’s military programs, even against strong U.S. opposition, has many origins: a desire for markets to sustain the immense Israeli defense industry, a sense that opening up new diplomatic relationships can reduce reliance on the U.S., and so forth. But perhaps most important has been a sense that Beijing faced a Muslim threat (which she most certainly does, both within and without, from Xinjiang to the states of Central Asia where she is now actively seeking political influence and oil) just as Israel does, and that therefore the Chinese would avoid sharing sensitive technologies with potential Islamic adversaries.

That calculation seems to have proved incorrect. The evidence of technological transfers and cooperation, along with the massive investment in land routes to Iran far beyond the range of carrier-based aircraft, suggests a strategic decision—misguided, perhaps, but a decision nonetheless.

China’s proliferation activities have received little attention and scarcely any effective sanctions. If anything, Washington and other interested powers have fantasized that China would actually solve the problems that she was in fact helping to create in North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, and elsewhere.

American (and Israeli) calculation has always been that their weapons were so much better than those of their adversaries as to render positive outcomes certain. We have now had some unpleasant surprises. More may follow in the form of enhanced Hezbollah anti-armor capabilities. As the current fighting in the Middle East lurches forward along its uncertain and perilous course, it will be more than interesting to see how much China has done to turn the military balance in a direction unfavorable to Israel. If Islamists become dominant along China’s Inner Asian borders, as is quite possible, we may even see Chinese weapons being used against China herself.

[1] Public Law 105-304

[2] Robin Wright, “Inside the Mind of Hezbollah,” The Washington Post, Outlook, July 16, 2006, p. B1.

[3] “Trucks from Iran were smuggling arms,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, January 31, 1996.

[4] Ali Nouri Zadeh, “Iran Provider of Hezbollah's Weaponry- Source,” Asharq Al-Awsat Exclusive, July 16, 2006; Abraham Rabinovich, “Hezbollah trained for six years, dug deep bunkers,” The Washington Times, July 21, 2006.

[5] Alon Ben-David, “Israeli Navy caught out by Hizbullah hit on ship,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, July 26, 2006; Amnon Barzilai, “Navy probe blames faulty intelligence for missile ship hit, The Israeli warship's crew had only twenty seconds in which to identify the threat and respond,” Globes, July 20, 2006.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ed Blanche, “Iran shows off new hardware,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, September 29, 1999.

[9] Robert Hewson, “China aids Iran’s tactical missile programme,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 17, 2004.

[10] “Peretz Says Hizballah Still Has Long-Range Rockets; Fires Raging in North,” Jerusalem Voice of Israel Network B, July 23, 2006.

[11] “Fateh A-110,” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems, June 23, 2006.

[12] Prasun K. Sengupta, “Dr. Khan’s Second Wal-Mart,” Force, April, 2006.

[13] See Turkish magazine Haftalik, No. 136, 2005.

[14] “Hezbollah ‘air power” first flew in 2004,” Associated Press, July 14, 2006; Stephen Farrell, “Unmanned plane that crippled Israeli ship,” The Times Online, July 15, 2006.

[15] A recent report notes that Iran’s Mohajer class UAVs use “Iran, Russian and Chinese technology,” see, Riad Kahwaji and Barbara Opall-Rome, “Proxy War Fuels Mideast Missile Crisis,” Defense News, July 24, 2006, p. 1.

[16] For a summation of the pro-sales arguments from late in the last decade, see Yitzhak Shichor, “Mountains out of Molehills: Arms Transfers In Sino-Middle East Relations," Middle East Review of International Affairs, Fall, 2000.

[17] Some officials implied that sales to China had helped prevent the sale of missiles to Syria, but this hope has long been undermined by China’s sale of ballistic and cruise missile technologies to Iran, see, Barbara Opall, “Israel Denies Charges On Tech Sales To China,” Defense News, July 21-27, 1997, p. 56.

Freedom in a Cage

Freedom in a Cage
Consider the Uighurs


(Uyghurs detained in Guantanamo and transferred to Albania in early May, 2006)

He compensates for lack of brain with compassion. Consider Mr. Bush's treatment of the Uighurs.

Among the detainees at Guantánamo were five Uighurs captured in Afghanistan after 9/11. The men were natives of Xinjiang province of China. They had the misfortune to travel to Afghanistan before 9/11 for reasons having nothing to do with Osama bin Laden An even greater misfortune was their decision to go to Pakistan after 9/11where they were welcomed by villagers who invited them to dinner and then took them to a mosque where the men (who thought they were going to pray) were turned over to the Americans for an unspecified sum of money. The Americans sent them off to Guantánamo.

Once in Guantánamo the five men were subject to the mercy of the military tribunals that were set up by the Bush administration to help it decide whether the people it had imprisoned were enemy combatants. The military tribunal concluded they were not. Nonetheless, they were held at Guantánamo for an additional year because George Bush didn't know what to do with them. If returned to China they were threatened with imprisonment because Uighurs have had a long standing conflict with the Chinese government over its treatment of Uighurs, whom it considers terrorists. Although Mr. Bush has no problem calling people terrorists or enemy combatants and then summarily depriving them of any rights, the law does not permit the him to repatriate prisoners to countries where they may be subject to the kind of treatment they were subject to when being watched over by Mr. Bush.

The question, therefore, was where could the men go. The obvious answer for the Uighurs was they should go to the United States since they were only 90 miles away. Mr. Bush did not think they would make good neighbors and did not want them coming here.

A state department official claimed that the United States asked more than 100 countries to let the five men stay with them and all of the countries refused. Some were afraid of offending the Chinese and others may have logically concluded that if the United States didn't want them neither did they. One country was an exception-Canada.

The lawyers for the men were conducting negotiations with Canada to convince that country to grant them entry and resident status since that country has a large Uighur population and the men would have felt comfortable living there among their own people. Then a strange thing happened.

In addition to negotiating with Canada on behalf of their clients, the lawyers filed a lawsuit to compel the United States to let the men enter the United States. The case was heard in a federal district court and at its conclusion the judge said that the detention of the Uighurs was illegal and disgraceful but he lacked the power to force the government to admit the men to the U.S. The men appealed. The justice department did not want the appellate court to issue an opinion because (a) it did not want to be criticized by yet another court and (b) it feared that the court would enter a ruling requiring the government to deal fairly with those it had unfairly imprisoned by requiring it to admit them to the United States.

The appeal was scheduled to be heard on a Monday in May. Taking its cue from the criminal who, preferring freedom to conviction, gets out of town before he can be tried, the government got the Uighurs out of town before the court could enter an unfavorable ruling. The only country that was willing to accept the men in a big hurry was Albania. On the Friday before the Monday hearing the men were placed aboard an airplane surrounded by 20 armed guards, shackled to the floor of the plane in case they decided to become enemy combatants during the flight and shipped off to Albania.

With the men safely out of the country, the government rushed off to court and told the court the men were in Albania and, therefore, no longer subject to the court's jurisdiction. The court agreed and dismissed the case. The government was relieved since it no longer had to fear judicial chastisement for its inhumane treatment of detainees.

In his most recent news conference Mr. Bush said: "if we ever give up the desire to help people who live in freedom, we will have lost our soul as a nation, as far as I'm concerned." Thanks to Mr. Bush the Uighurs now live in freedom in a barbed wire enclosed refugee camp in Albania where no one speaks their language. They get free room and board and 40 Euros a month. In addition to his brain, it would appear that Mr. Bush has also lost his soul. That news will not surprise the Albanian Uhguirs. No one else will be surprised.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Visit his website:

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UCA Letter to Prime Minister of Canada

UCA Letter to Prime Minister of Canada

The Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A2
July12, 2006

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper

I am writing on behalf of Uyghur Canadian Association out of concern for the plight of Huseyincan Celil, a Canadian citizen of Uyghur origin from the East Turkistan (aka:Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) in northwest China.

Mr. Celil now faces the death penalty because he was previously sentenced to death in absentia for founding a political party to work on behalf of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan . Mr.Celil fled the China in the mid-1990s and came to Canada in 2001 as a refugee. He is now a proud Canadian citizen.

Mr. Celil is an upstanding Canadian who has an excellent reputation as a man of integrity. He is a respected member of our community. He has long supported the rights of Uyghurs to self-determination in peaceful way. The Chinese Government’s claims that Mr. Celil has engaged in illegal activities have no basis in truth whatsoever.

His experience is consistent with well-documented human rights concerns in China and in central Asia. In the midst of an ongoing crackdown in East Turkistan by the Chinese government, widespread human rights violations directed against the region’s Uyghur community continue. Many Uyghur have fled the country as a result. Those who have fled to neighboring central Asian countries continue to be at risk, as there is a well-established pattern of governments in the region forcibly returning Uyghur to China, often as a result of direct pressure from the Chinese government. In some recent cases, returnees have been subjected to serious human rights violations, including torture, unfair trials and even execution

Mr. Celil is clearly a Canadian citizen under both Chinese and Canadian law. The Beijing regime claims he is Chinese in spite of the fact that its own Nationality Law makes it abundantly clear that he is Canadian. The Chinese "courts" will make any "legal" finding they are instructed to make by the Communist Party.

Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China, clearly states that:

Article 3. The People's Republic of China does not recognize dual nationality for any Chinese national.

Article 9. Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has been naturalized as a foreign national or has acquired foreign nationality of his own free will shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.

(Promulgation date: 09-10-1980 and Effective date: 09-10-1980) .

Obviously there is no any possible room in China’s Nationality Law for other interpretation of any kind.

Legal experts believes that It would be a mistake, however, to accept Chinese trial for Mr. Celil; that action would achieve nothing except to confer legitimacy on the Chinese judicial system, which in reality is not a legitimate judicial system in any sense.

Therefore, the solution does not lie in the "courts" or with lawyers. The only possibility of getting him back or protecting him from execution/torture lies in the Canadian Government making the issue something that will meaningfully impact on China's relations with Canada.

Canada should make the strongest representation that Mr. Celil be immediately returned to Canada. It is time for government of Canadian to act strongly before this matter turns to tragedy.

Dear Prime Minister,

During your expected meeting with China’s President Hu Jintao in G-8 Summit in Moscow, please intervene personally and do all that you can to press the government of China for immediate and safe return of Mr. Celil to Canada.

We look forward to hearing of intensified Canadian efforts on Mr. Celil’s behalf.

Mohamed Tohti

Uyghur Canadian Association


416 825 8641

China mum on fate of detained Canadian

China mum on fate of detained Canadian

Demands for legal consular access denied more than three weeks into disappearance


BEIJING -- More than three weeks after a Canadian citizen vanished into Chinese police custody, Chinese authorities are rejecting all of Canada's requests for information on the fate of the 37-year-old man.

The prisoner, Huseyincan Celil, was allowed into Canada as a political refugee in 2001 and became a Canadian citizen. But he was arrested in Uzbekistan on March 27 and extradited last month to China, where he could face the death penalty for alleged "separatist" activities in a Muslim province.

For three weeks, the Canadian government has been trying to get access to Mr. Celil to give him the consular service that any imprisoned Canadian is entitled to receive. But Chinese authorities are refusing to give any details of his whereabouts, even though they are obliged under international law to permit consular access to a foreigner who is detained in their custody.

The Globe and Mail has also made repeated requests for information about Mr. Celil to the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security over the past several weeks, but both ministries have refused to comment.

The only hint of his fate has come from a Chinese newspaper, which mentioned his case as an example of China's fight against "terrorism."

The Canadian embassy in Beijing has confirmed that it has failed to obtain any details of Mr. Celil's fate or whereabouts, even after three weeks of requests and a formal diplomatic note -- one of the toughest actions that a government can take without affecting its relations with another country.

"We are making every effort to obtain immediate consular access to Mr. Celil in China," a spokeswoman for the Canadian Foreign Ministry said recently. "We will continue efforts to confirm Mr. Celil's well-being and to ensure he is afforded due process and his rights are protected."

Mr. Celil was arrested in China in the mid-1990s for his work on behalf of the Uighur people, the Muslim minority in the Xinjiang province of western China. He was sentenced to death in absentia for founding a political party to work for the Uighurs. After escaping from China, he travelled to Turkey and came to Canada as a refugee in 2001.

Chris MacLeod, the lawyer for Mr. Celil's family in Burlington, Ont., says the Canadian government is not taking enough action in the case.

"It's very troubling," he said in an interview. "A Canadian citizen is being punted around like a football. He travels to Uzbekistan and finds himself in the interior of China. It's unbelievable."

Mr. MacLeod is seeking a visa to enter China to search for Mr. Celil. He also wants Canada to send an official envoy to China to pursue the case.

"Diplomatic notes just aren't going to solve this," he said. "Canada hasn't taken any significant steps yet. We're a country of immigrants and refugees, and there should be an onus on the Canadian government to take a clear stand in protecting him. We should be a safe haven for people who are persecuted elsewhere."

Mohamed Tohti, president of the Uighur Canadian Association, said the Chinese government seems to be saying that Mr. Celil is still a Chinese citizen, even though the Chinese constitution specifies that someone who gains citizenship in a foreign country automatically loses Chinese citizenship.

"If this loophole opens, there are a million Chinese-Canadians who could be punished by China," he said.

Charles Burton, a former Canadian diplomat in China who is now a political scientist at Brock University, said the Chinese authorities are using the Celil case to send "a message of disdain" to the new Conservative government in Ottawa.

"China has developed greater confidence of its role in the world in recent years," Mr. Burton said in an interview, "and sees Canada as less and less important to its national interests."

He criticized the Canadian embassy for failing to act strongly enough. "I cannot but think that if Mr. Celil was not a Uighur-Canadian, the embassy would be much more vigorous in pursuing this matter."

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Interview with Vice-President of WUC, Mohamed Tohti

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

© Alex Jerebbo/IRIN

Mohamed Tohti says Uighurs are under
pressure from China throughout Central Asia

ANKARA, 5 May 2006 (IRIN) - Many Uighurs live in exile in Central Asia after fleeing repression in their native Xinjiang Province - a vast region that occupies one-sixth of China's land mass.

The emergence of the five independent states in Central Asia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 stimulated a separatist movement among the Uighur minority in China’s Xinjiang Uighurs Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Uighurs are a Turkic, Sunni Muslim people, with close cultural and linguistic ties to other ethnic groups in Central Asia, including Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uzbeks and Turkmen. Rights groups cite serious human rights abuses against the Uighurs, while Beijing has claimed it has been fighting "religious extremist forces" and "violent terrorists" in the region for more than a decade.

Mohamed Tohti, Vice-President of the WUC, in an interview with IRIN, spoke about how Uighurs living in Central Asia find themselves under increasing pressure from host governments reluctant to offend Beijing.

QUESTION: In what ways are Uighurs in Central Asia under threat from Beijing?

ANSWER: Since 1996 China has launched an intensive diplomatic and political campaign in the Central Asian countries to prosecute the Uighur democratic movement, Uighur refugees and even the leaders of the Uighur democratic movement.

China defines the Uighur “problem” as part of the "fight against three evils”, which are terrorism, religious extremism and separatism.

Q: What evidence do you have of the persecution of Uighurs in the region?

A: Since 1996, nearly 30 Uighurs, maybe more, have forcefully been sent back from Kazakhstan to China and been executed, disappeared or sentenced to long-term imprisonment. It is the same in Kyrgyzstan as well. Now China's police are openly active on those countries’ streets.

The recent arrest of Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil [an ethnic Uighur detained in the Uzbek capital Tashkent facing extradition to China] is another example. This is proof of the extension of the Chinese hand in those countries to prosecute Uighurs. At the same time it is a message to all Uighurs living in the West.

The message is clear: "We do whatever we want, wherever we want, regardless of your citizenship, if you are critical of China and if you continue to advocate for the rights of Uighurs.”

In March 2003 a bus taking Uighur vendors from Bishkek to Kashgar [capital of Xinjiang] was attacked and 21 people were killed. They were shot before the bus was torched, nobody has been held responsible for this.

Dilbrim Samsaqova was elected member of the East Turkestan National Congress in early 2000 in Kazakhstan. She was a Kazakh citizen but a strong critic of China's treatment of Uighurs. She was murdered, but those responsible for this crime have not been found yet. And there are many other such cases.

Q: What do Uighurs want, independence from China?

A: Uighurs and Uighur organisations want to be the voice of Uighur people in East Turkestan [China’s Xinjiang Uighurs Autonomous Region (XUAR)] who have no voice. Let them decide their own political future. Let them have the right to self-determination. That is goal we are fighting for, but by rejecting any kind of violence.

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