This study examines the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the people of East Turkistan; specifically, between China’s settler colonialism and East Turkistan’s independence movement. What distinguishes this study is its dispassionate analysis of the East Turkistan’s national dilemma in terms of international law and legal precedent as well as the prudence with which it distinguishes substantial evidence from claims of China’s crimes against humanity and genocide in East Turkistan that have not been fully verified yet.
The author demonstrates how other states have ignored the nature of that relationship and so avoided asking key questions about East Turkistan that have been asked and answered about other occupied and colonized states. The book analyzes this situation and provides the tools and the argument to understand East Turkistan’s actual status in the international community. Currently, the world has bought into China’s rhetoric about “stability” and “fighting extremism,” and international organizations accept China’s presentation of Uyghurs and other people as “minorities” within a Chinese nation-state. This book instead shows East Turkistan can correctly be understood through history and law as an illegally occupied territory undergoing genocide. It also makes the case that East Turkistani people had basis advancing territorial claim for independence.
Rukiye Turdush is research director at the Uyghur Research Institute.
Part I: Self-Determination in International Law and the Colonial History of East Turkistan.
Chapter 1: The People of East Turkistan: An Illegally Occupied Nation
Chapter 2: East Turkistan Was Not Terra Nullius
Chapter 3: Counterargument Against China’s State Integrity Claim
Part II: The Right to Choose Sovereignty Beyond Decolonization: The Political, Territorial, and Economic Status of the People of East Turkistan.
Chapter 4: China’s Nation-Building: Specific Intent to Destroy
Chapter 5: Sophisticated Genocidal State Policies
Chapter 6: Territory and Economy in East Turkistan
Chapter 7: History of Resistance Movements Against Chinese Communist Colonialism.
Chapter 8: China’s Broken Promise of Internal Self-Determination
Conclusion: The Meaning of the Right to Sovereignty
This book makes a very significant contribution to the literature on the Uyghur crisis bringing together a wide range of materials in Chinese, Uyghur language, and English. Rukiye Turdush is one of the most authoritative and articulate scholars of Uyghur affairs in the world today The facts of the history and contemporary reality of the Uyghurs are highly charged emotionally, touching on multiple forms of human injustice including genocide. Nevertheless, Ms. Turdush maintains a prudent and rational tone based in an encyclopedic knowledge of the relevant body of international law and of interpretive perspectives of scholars and practitioners.
Rich in material, Rukiye Turdush portrays China as a colonial power that perpetrates genocidal violence before the eyes of the world public. At the same time, she makes clear that the annexation of East Turkestan is merely a step toward expanding the sphere of power in the direction of the West.
This book is a powerful statement of the view that East Turkistan (the homeland of the Uyghur people) is a Chinese colony, and that as such, it deserves to regain self-determination just like the other former colonies that became independent nations after WWII. Indeed, it was a grave failure of those UN-led decolonization effort, that it did not include the nations annexed into land empires like China. Written by a deeply knowledgeable ethnic Uyghur activist who has conducted extensive research on these issues, this book deserves to be widely read. If China enjoyed freedom of expression, it should be read and discussed there too, as a matter of course. And we should all remember that even the Chinese Communist Party once promised as its policy, that the nations enslaved by the past Chinese empires ought to have the choice of independence from China. Why? As this book explains, justice demands it.