World Uyghur Congress (WUC) president Erkin Alptekin yesterday urged the international community to intervene and pressure the Chinese government into starting talks with the Uyghur people of Xinjiang so that disputes there can be resolved peacefully.
Alptekin, who is in Taipei attending the World Forum on Democratization in Asia, hosted by Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, made the remarks at a press conference yesterday.
The objective of the WUC is to promote the right of the Uyghur people to use peaceful, non-violent and democratic means to determine the political future of Xinjiang, which the congress prefers to call East Turkistan.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Chinese government has staged a worldwide campaign blaming Uyghurs fighting for the independence of the autonomous region as terrorists.
"The Chinese government used the world struggle against international terrorism as an excuse to massively crack down on Uyghur people," Alptekin said.
He said that China has arrested more than 3,000 Uyghurs, executed 200 and sentenced another 15 to death.
"We are afraid that the pressure the Chinese government is placing on East Turkestan will cause a major uprising in our country," he said.
"The pressure has been gradually growing since Sept. 11, and this has made our people fall into a hopeless, desperate and frustrated situation," Alptekin said.
"We strongly condemn the Chinese government attempting to portray us as terrorists, because the Uyghur people, who have played a major role in the enrichment of central Asian civilization for more than a thousand years, cannot be terrorists," he said.