Xinjiang threatens to become another place where the jihad ideology becomes the dominant expression of local desires for autonomy, and ends up poisoning any prospects for a legitimate negotiated settlement. This has been going on in Chechnya and elsewhere for quite some time. “China Puts Focus on Security in Muslim Region,” from the LA Times, with thanks to Kemaste:
BEIJING “” China urged local security agencies Thursday to “prepare for danger” and remain vigilant against terrorists in the predominantly Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang….
Muslim Uighur militants in Xinjiang have fought for several decades to establish an independent nation that would be known as East Turkestan.
China, which has aggressively confronted the movement, said this month that 160 people had been killed in Xinjiang since the mid-1980s in 260 attacks blamed on terrorists….
About 60% of Xinjiang’s population of 20 million is Muslim, who are considered an ethnic minority in predominantly Han China….
China released a leading Uighur figure, Rebiya Kadeer, from prison March 17 and exiled her to the U.S. following years of pressure by Washington. This occurred shortly before a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. China has a history of releasing one or two high-profile activists before major international visits.
The overseas Uighur community is relatively fractured, but analysts say Kadeer is a particular object of Beijing’s distrust because she has the stature to unify disparate groups under an international banner, in much the same way the Dalai Lama has done for Tibet.
“Her release appears to have introduced more cohesion to the community,” said Ben Edwards, a researcher with the Uighur Human Rights Project in Washington, who said the mainstream movement is nonviolent.
“The Uighur people are Muslim, but there’s no connection to the wider, broader [Islamic] jihad.”…
In the post-Sept. 11 world, China has labeled many in the Uighur separatist movement as terrorists, part of a global trend by governments to deflect international criticism of internal crackdowns.
“There is no real definition of a terrorist in Chinese criminal law,” said Anu Kultalahti, a London-based campaigner with Amnesty International. “We definitely know of people charged with crimes related to terrorism or employing evil forces who we consider prisoners of conscience.”
Liu Wenzong, a member of the China Society for Human Rights Studies, said that although most people in Xinjiang were peaceful, a small minority had links to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
“We’re talking about terrorists,” he said.
Anu Kultalahti should know that there’s no real definition of terrorist anywhere. It is long past time for the Americans, the Chinese, and everyone else to stop talking about fighting terrorism and start acknowledging that we are defending ourselves (sometimes not very effectively) against a global jihad.