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Yesterday more than a dozen men (and possibly two women according to some eyewitnesses) dressed in black, wearing facemasks and armed with long knives attacked the crowd waiting at the Kunming railroad station. The most recent report had 29 people killed and 162 injured.

Five of the attackers were shot and killed by police. The city government of Kunming announced today that according to the evidence they have, the attackers were Uyghur separatists.

Uyghurs are ethnic group in Xinjiang province in northwestern part of China. Xinjiang was part of the famous Silk Road during the Han dynasty. This region was in and out of Chinese central government's controls throughout history, with repeated rebellions followed by brutal suppression.

Xinjiang was under the control of Qing dynasty at the moment of the Republic revolution in 1911. Its governor nominally submitted to the new Republic. In 1933, a region-wide rebellion brought forth the first East-Turkistan Republic. It existed only very briefly before being crushed by the Nationalist Muslim troops. Soon after, Soviet troops invaded and occupied Xinjiang. Soviet Union ruled Xinjiang through its proxy Sheng Shicai. But Sheng broke with the communists in 1943, executing all representatives from the Chinese Communist Party including Mao's brother.

In 1944, Soviet Union instigated another revolution in Xinjiang that led to the establishment of the second East-Turkistan Republic. This was considered part of the Chinese communist revolution and the 2nd ETR merged with communist China without resistance in 1949.

During the great famine of 1958-1961, many ethnic Uyghurs fled to the Soviet Union. Xinjiang became restive again after Deng Xiaoping loosened control in 1979. There were a number of student demonstrations in the 1980s. The separatist movement turned violent in 1990, when the Baren Township riot turned into an armed conflict between Uyghur fighters and the PLA. After that the separatist movement resorted largely to terrorist tactics, with three bus bombings in Urumqi in 1997, an attempted suicide bombing of China Southern airliner in 2008, an attempted hijacking of Tianjin Airline flight 7554 in 2012, and car bombing on Tiananmen Square in 2013.

A large number of Uyghur separatists have fought in Afghanistan, which is just across the border, against the US troops. 22 of these Uyghur fighters were captured by US and kept at Guantanamo. Yet the US does not recognize the separatist group that sent these people to fight against the US as terrorists. In fact, the US government still gives money to the political wing of the Uyghur separatist group, World Uyghur Congress. Of course World Uyghur Congress denies any involvement with such terrorist activities.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That would be China's biggest nightmare. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, xgz, koNko

    If they have to contend with separatist problems in both Tibet and with the Uyghurs.

    "The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression." - W.E.B. Du Bois Be informed. Fight the Police State.

    by Eternal Hope on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:30:26 PM PST

    •  It has been the case for decades (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The problem, as usual, is that historically the area has been populated various peoples and governments, and Uyghurs see themselves as rightful owners, and they are in majority in some areas.

      But there are other groups including Xibo, Chinese, Russian, Tibetian.

      Tough fit to the 21st Century in many respects.

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 06:29:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Xinjiang sounds like a place (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, xgz

    with an identity crisis.

    "I feel badly about the kids," the unknown person said. "I guess." [but] "They are [only] the children of Buono voters," Wildstein replied.

    by plok on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:31:20 PM PST

  •  I predict this will not end well. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs." -- Denis Diderot

    by terremoto on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:17:19 PM PST

  •  Xinjiang is such a melting pot. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, marina, kaliope, xgz, koNko, JVolvo

    Take a stroll through Google images at the people that live there.  (Search Xinjiang people.)

    And I'll add a couple of notes from Wikipedia:

    Early history:  According to J.P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair, the Chinese sources describe the existence of "white people with lightish hair" or the Bai people in the Shan Hai Jing, who lived beyond their northwestern border.

    The well-preserved Tarim mummies with reddish or blond hair, which today are displayed at the Ürümqi Museum and date back to the 3rd century BC, have been found in precisely the same area of the Tarim Basin. Nomadic tribes such as the Yuezhi were part of the large migration of Indo-European speaking peoples who were settled in eastern Central Asia (possibly as far as Gansu).

    A summary of classical sources on the Seres (Greek and Roman name of Xinjiang) (essentially Pliny and Ptolemy) gives the following account:  The region of the Seres is a vast and populous country, touching on the east the Ocean and the limits of the habitable world, and extending west nearly to Imaus and the confines of Bactria. The people are civilised men, of mild, just, and frugal temper, eschewing collisions with their neighbours, and even shy of close intercourse, but not averse to dispose of their own products, of which raw silk is the staple, but which include also silk stuffs, furs, and iron of remarkable quality.

  •  I suspect the Chinese authorities will be very (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, kaliope, xgz, koNko, sny

    hard on ethnic Uyghurs who had nothing to do with this terrorism because they can't identify the perpetrators, so they'll punish the general populace in hopes of turning them against the extremists.

    The extremists, in turn, will hope that if there's persecution it helps them recruit additional fighters for their cause.

    The average Uyghur who is just trying to make enough to feed their family will be worse off than before.

    Another day I'd like to be a different species.

  •  The Uyghurs have a tremendous history (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, marina, kaliope, xgz, blueoasis, koNko, JVolvo

    They were the first highly literate people in East-Central Asia.  As such, they became the source of the court classes of scribes, chroniclers, bureaucrats and lawyers of the various rising and falling peoples of the steppes, including the Mongols.

    Before the ascendancy of Islam in Central Asia, while the Turkic peoples were mostly shamanist, the Uyghurs generally adopted Nestorian Christianity as the main religion of their culture.  As such, they probably had a great deal to do with the European myth of "Prester John", the legendary Christian Kingdom "beyond Tartary".

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:42:37 PM PST

  •  "religion is poison" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    •  So true (0+ / 0-)

      In a homogeneous society religion plays the role of resisting social progress. When several religions intermix the result is often violence or war.

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