Can you really say you’ve met someone if you speak different languages? I sat beside Rebiya Kadeer while we gave our respective congressional testimonies a few years ago. Somehow, after listening to her speech, followed by a brief stilted exchange, I walked away deeply impressed by the simple dignity and the sincerity with which she presented the Uighur cause.
Clearly Kadeer was a great beauty, so it’s easy to understand, particularly given her self-made background, why the Chinese Communist Party initially made her into a poster-girl of Uighur euntrepenurial success. But once she entered Chinese politics, she refused to play the passive role that had been assigned to her. Like so many CCP success stories, it would end badly: Kadeer in prison, then exile. And the official insults: Kadeer is a “running dog” for Western anti-China forces, an enemy of the people. Following the arrest and torture of her sons, she was called a “bad woman” who could not “even properly educate her own children,” the sort of braying taunt–toying and twisting Kadeer’s parental instincts–one would expect from a mafia boss or perhaps a mongol chieftain. Those words should tell you more about the true character of the New China than a hundred economic reports.
Somehow, Kadeer never backed down. Now her people are dying and Uighur history is tracking the trajectory of 19th century Ireland. Colonized, starved, and raped for its resources, the Uighurs, like the Irish rebels before them (who made deals with whatever force constituted the enemy du jour of England), have looked for friends and resources anywhere they can find them, even among our enemies. In a few cases, that even includes Al-qaeda. But now it’s time to put away the murky, overheated, partisan debates about the former Gitmo Uighur detainees, and just listen to Kadeer. What’s happening in Xinjiang is not just a simple race riot. It’s a symptom of a state-sponsored Han Chinese racial movement that is metastasizing like a cancer.