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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

The World Under Fire

August 1, 2008

An American in China
by Sascha Matuszak
antiwar.com
July 31, 2008

In the past ten days, bombs have ripped people apart in high profile,
bloody locations like Baghdad and India, killed more in relatively
safe locations like Kunming and Istanbul and scared others in Spain.
The world is on fire and Beijing is about to party.

In China, unconfirmed reports of bomb threats, apprehended terrorists
and defused bombs circle throughout the media establishment and parts
of the populace. The Chinese Public Security Bureau has chosen to
play down all risks in the days leading up to the Olympics, but the
threat level internally must be at its highest pitch following the
Kunming bombings. There have been several bombings, fires, explosions
and other disturbing incidents this year in China, many of them
attributed to "the crazy lone man" such as the disgruntled worker and
the angry gambler in Shanghai and the cancer victim in Wenzhou.

These reports can only be taken at face value, but it must be noted
that the lone deranged bomber is a much more desirable perpetrator –
from the State's point of view – then an organized and determined
cell of hard core fighters. Not only does it present less of an
enemy, but it keeps the people calm: there is no organized enemy out
to get us, its only the crazy guy."

Unfortunately for China, an organized group is exactly what they
might be facing in the Islamic Party of East Turkistan (IPET), the
group that claimed responsibility for the Kunming bombings and
several others, including the Shanghai and Wenzhou incidents, in a
video released two days after the Kunming bombing.

China has been dealing with separatist "freedom fighters" or
"terrorists -- depending on your perspective -- since the 1950s when
the Communists took over Xinjiang. Every few years, the Turkic Uigher
people rise up against Chinese rule, setting off bombs, demonstrating
in the streets and calling for their own state: East Turkistan. These
demands have been toned down in recent years to include basic
economic rights and freedom of religion, but China's heavy-handed
approach to governance in areas such as Xinjiang and Tibet has
resulted in a deep, abiding hatred simmering amongst the Uigher.

After 9/11, the government's most prominent nemesis in the region,
the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), was hounded into
obscurity by Chinese security forces, with tacit world approval. The
remnants of ETIM are believed to have crossed over the mountainous
border into Afghanistan and worked their way south toward Pakistan.
For the past few years, what has survived of this group has received
training and guidance by the Islamic fighters in the mountains of
Afghanistan and Pakistan. This new organization, the IPET, may be the
new incarnation of ETIM, with more sophisticated tactics, more
support and a deeper dedication to violence as a means of achieving their aims.

In Xinjiang, independence from China does not necessarily sound good
to the average Uigher. Without China to develop the region's oil, gas
and mineral resources, Xinjiang would be fought over like a juicy
bone by some other powers in the region, most notably Pakistan or
even Russia. The Chinese have brought "modernity" to the region.
However, as with Tibet, modernity means the death of Uigher culture
and religion and the rise of Han Chinese social, political and
economic control over the Uigher.

If the Chinese would allow Uighers to practice their religion, give
them a piece of the economic pie and try and integrate them as Turkic
Muslims into Greater China, perhaps there would be no need for
violence. But this is not the case. Children under 18 are forbidden
to study Islam and mosques are under the tight control of the
Communist Party, which advocates "Patriotic Religion."

Chinese who have lived for generations in Xinjiang claim there is no
problem -- and on the surface this may be the case -- but speak with
any Uigher out of earshot of a Han and he will express disgust,
hatred and frustration. Speak with any Han long enough, and he will
express paternalistic arrogance. It's the same story all over the world …

Even in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang in the developed north, the
youth have begun dating each other and Progress is smothering Hatred.
But the divisions are still clear. If the people were allowed to
continue to grow together without the interference of radical Muslims
and fascist police, Xinjiang might know peace.

But in Hotan and Kashgar, in the south of Xinjiang, there is a heavy
police presence and the Uigher are subjected to a Cultural
Revolution-style indoctrination program which includes mass rallies
in favor of Party policies, where the Uigher people are urged to sing
and chant pro-Party and Mao Zedong songs.

Naturally, this leads to resentment and anger amongst the Muslims.
Additionally, the economic might of the region is in the firm control
of Han officials and businessmen, adding fuel to the fire.

Pakistani businessmen, many of them very religious and sympathetic to
the plight of their Muslim brethren, make frequent trips across the
Karakorum Mountains to engage in trade, and it is not unlikely that
they bring Islam and the reality of free religion with them.

Measures to alleviate the anger of the Muslims in Xinjiang are now,
sadly, a moot point. IPET, even if their claims to all the bombings
and explosions in China turn out to be wild grasps at publicity, are
organized enough to put a video out. Any group that puts up a video
will engage in acts of violent sabotage in order to increase their
profile, achieve their aims and recruit more jihadists.

THE OLYMPICS THREATENED

Beijing is a huge city of 13 million people. It is virtually
impossible to close the whole city down and protect against every
possible bomb threat. So far the authorities have done a tremendous
job. Granted, the Chinese approach to security so far has been to
blanket the area with Chinese eyes, but so far so good. Though there
have been unconfirmed reports of bomb threats that have been defused
-- no actual explosions have yet to take place. For the people of
Beijing and the thousands of tourists, athletes and dignitaries
arriving in the next two weeks, unconfirmed reports are definitely
more desirable than confirmed explosions.

However, the threat of a deadly attack remains. In Beijing, the drive
to rid the skies of smog has resulted in plans to reduce the amount
of traffic on the streets by 90%. What this means is that the public
transportation system – able to handle about 4 million people – will
be stretched to the maximum capacity before all of the foreign
delegations arrive. If even 1/3 of the foreigners take to the public
system -- which is likely, given the convenience and efficiency of
the metro and bus systems – then the numbers are likely to rise.

It is impossible to maintain a tight security web under these conditions.

Today the Chinese dealt with pollution and human rights questions
from reporters and several stories have been file din the past few
days that question China's ability to "be ready" for foreigners.
Closing DVD shops, mass "civilize the people" campaigns, walling up
eyesore neighborhoods, trying to ban undesirables from bars and disco
– all these topics have been hitting the headlines as much if not
more than the threat of terrorist attacks.

The world should be taking IPET very seriously, for this is their one
and only chance to make a big impact on China and drive more and more
harried Uighers into their ranks. The Islamists in Pakistan and
Afghanistan adhere to a "Doomsday" mentality of massive
civilizational war between the modern countries of the West and the
Islamic religious nations of the Middle East. Part of the plan is to
unite the two warring sides to create clear boundaries between the
Infidel and the Believer.

A strike at Beijing -- whose people are convinced that the Muslims
and the Chinese have good relations with each other -- would
galvanize an already extremely patriotic people to support full
heartedly (not that don't already) a pogrom of destruction against
the DongTu – the Uigher separatists. Such a pogrom – coupled with
increased Western presence in Afghanistan, graveyard of Empires --
can only play into the hands of the fatalistic.
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