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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Wrested Uyghurs orchards to be resold to Chinese immigrants

May 12, 2009

Tibetan Review
May 11, 2009

East Turkestan (Chinese: Xinjiang) is, like
‘Tibet’, supposed to be an autonomous region of
China. But, like in the case of Tibet, this
offers no guarantee that its Uyghur natives can
till their own land even under an existing
government contract, when Chinese, with their
money and political power, covet their land and
means of livelihood. Thus, the township
government of Turpanyuz in Gulja (Chinese:
Yining) county in Ili prefecture has confirmed a
plan to buy back orchards from ethnic Uyghur
farmers two decades before their contracts had
expired, saying they would auction them off to
Han Chinese farmers instead, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) May 8.

For the unfinished 25 years of the contract, the
government is offering a measly compensation of
200 yuan (U.S. $30) per year per mu (approx. 0.17
acres or 0.07 hectares) of orchard. The farmers
were reported to complain that this did not take
into account years of labour put into the
orchards by them to make them profitable.

Local peasants were leased the orchards --
formerly a wasteland -- in 1983 for 50 years, on
condition that they would raise fruit trees on
it. The farmers spend millions of Yuan to develop
the orchards and to make them profitable. "Now it
is time for us to enjoy the orchards, but they
want to rob us and give us no peace," a farmer
named Umgulsum was quoted as saying.

"The county and the village governments are
forcing us to sell the orchards to them," another
farmer, named Nuri, was quoted as saying. "Then
they will be able to sell them at auction to
Chinese immigrants." She was being offered one
million yuan for her orchard worth at least five million yuan.

Turpanyuz has 14,676 residents. Government
officials reportedly claim that the farmers were
unable to benefit from the orchards and that they
would be better managed if they were bought back.
"We will auction the orchards to Chinese
businessmen from the rest of China," Township
government chief Abdusamet was quoted as saying.

Xinjiang, a distinct Muslim ethnic region, twice
enjoyed short-lived independence after declaring
the state of East Turkestan during the 1930s and
40s, and there is a strong independence movement there.
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