Chinese authorities remove statue of revered Uyghur scholar in Xinjiang: Report
Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have removed the statue of revered Uyghur scholar Mahmud Kashgary, highlighting yet another instance of Chinese violations of the minority community in the country, media reports said.
Using satellite imagery, Radio Free Asia's Uyghur Service was able to determine that Kashgary’s statue was removed sometime after Nov. 28, 2019.
The seven-meter statue of the Uyghur academic, who compiled the “Grand Turkish Dictionary” in the 11th century, had stood on the grounds of a mazar, or shrine, dedicated to him outside of Opal township, in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture’s Kona Sheher (Shufu) county since the mid-1990s, RFA reported.
Alimjan Inayet, a professor at the Turkish World Studies Center at Ege University in Izmir, Turkey, called the statue’s removal “a severe blow” to Uyghurs and all Turkic peoples.
“They understand Mahmut Kashgary to be the grandfather of Turkology and folklore. In this sense, Mahmut Kashgary is the glory of the Turkic world,” he told RFA in an interview.
“The demolition of the statue of Mahmut Kashgary by the Chinese government is a declaration of war on the Turkic world, on all the Turkic peoples,” he added, calling on a strong response to Beijing from the Turkic diaspora.
Inayet told RFA that the Chinese government has “consistently attacked Uyghur culture and attempted to sever ties between the Uyghur people and their ancestors” since establishing the XUAR under Beijing’s rule in 1949.
“The elimination of our historians and religious scholars, the detention of hundreds of famous intellectuals in camps and prisons, as well as the demolition of thousands of our historic structures, shrines and statues of famous individuals, one after the other, are clear evidence of the Chinese government’s great conspiracy against the Uyghur people,” he said.
RFA also spoke with Henryk Szadziewski, director of research at the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and a former resident of Kashgar, who compared Beijing’s targeting of Uyghur cultural touchpoints to the repression of other ethnic groups by fascist regimes of the 20th century.
“It was an important site for Uyghurs to go to, not only to learn about their history and culture, but also as a place to go recreate,” Szadziewski said, noting that he had regularly gone to the site with friends and students when he taught in the area.
“The broader implication here is that we have seen a Chinese government assault on Uyghur intellectuals, since 2017 in particular—many of them interned, disappeared, or in prison,” he added.
Who are Uyghur Muslims?
Uyghur Muslims are a Turkic minority ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. It is now widely publicized that their human rights are crushed by China and they were sent to "re-education camps" by the communist regime in Beijing.
The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.
An American representative at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said in 2018 that the committee had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in China have been held in "re-education camps" by the Chinese authorities.