Den som tror jernneven virker i kampen mot ekstremisme, kan studere Kinas politikk mot uighurene i Xinjiang. Kineserne har knust opprørstendenser, men prisen er å bli hatet.

Michael Sheridan gir et bilde av forholdene i en lang artikkel i the Times. Det er historien om vilkårlige henrettelser og gjeninnføring av føydale forhold: Barn kidnappes og tvinges til slavelignende tigging, og jenter tvangsutskrives til fabrikkarbeid hundrevis av mil borte.

Samtidig benytter kineserne samme teknikk som i Tibet: Han-kinesere sendes inn i stort antall, slik at uighurene har sunket fra 90 % av befolkningen etter krigen til litt under halvparten idag. Andre steder i verden kalles en slik fremgangsmåte kolonisering. Men Kina får stort sett holde på i fred.

Today China is waging a propaganda and security battle to guarantee its control over Xinjiang, its name for the vast province rich in minerals and strategic supplies of oil and gas which are vital to the expanding Chinese economy.

China claims that Al-Qaeda has trained more than 1,000 members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, classified as a terrorist group by America and the United Nations.

The group took its name from the short-lived Republic of East Turkestan that was declared in Xinjiang after the second world war, then crushed by the communist revolution of 1949.

China has persuaded Pakistan and Kazakhstan to hand over captured militants for interrogation, secret trials and execution, a policy that may have fuelled the fundamentalist rage now gripping Pakistan.

Next month 1,600 Chinese troops will join exercises with Russia and the former Soviet Central Asian republics to cooperate against Islamic extremists.

Chinese security services have also created a pervasive apparatus of informers and deployed new units of black-clad antiterrorist police to patrol around mosques and markets in the cities of Xinjiang.

But the iron-fisted security policy has made more enemies than friends. Extensive travel and interviews in Xinjiang this month unveiled a society segregated by religion and ethnicity, divided by reciprocal distrust, living in separate sections of tightly policed cities.

The same human rights abuses that exist across China – forced labour for peasants, children trafficked to slave as beggars, girls lured into sweatshops – deepen political tensions here and turn young men to violence.

Two western intelligence officers said the Chinese consistently exaggerated Uighur terrorist links with Al-Qaeda to exploit any opportunity to strike at their home-grown opponents. Chinese information was unreliable and no western intelligence service had handed back Muslim citizens to China, they said.

Det har vært en islamistisk opprørsbevegelse. De gjorde opprør i grensebyen Yining i 1997. Myndighetene druknet oppstanden i blod.

The ethnic Chinese inhabitants of Yining stick to their own districts. It is the tenth anniversary of a time when blood ran in the streets here and bitterness still runs deep.

«I was in the People’s Armed Police when the rebellion broke out in ’97,» said a burly Chinese driver, who proceeded to give a vivid and satisfied account of this barely known massacre.

«For a while we lost control,» he said. «The insurgents got into an armoury, killed our men and seized the weapons. There was chaos. We brought in the army – they changed into police uniforms – and then we got even. The central government ordered us to crush them without any hesitation. Believe me, we did.

«We lost a few people but we killed – I don’t know exactly – thousands of them. These people know our strength. We taught them a good hard lesson.»

Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman and politician now in exile, says she saw a horrific police video of the «good hard lesson» when she went to Yining in 1997 to investigate. It showed unarmed adolescent boys and girls shot dead on camera, their bodies tossed into trucks. A mother and her group of children, aged five or six, crumpled under a volley of bullets. The taped slaughter went on and on, with excited commands and shouts of glee from the Chinese on the soundtrack. Perhaps one of them was the driver.

A subdued hush has now descended on the city. The cold looks from Muslims when a Chinese walked into a shaded cafe near the main mosque told their own story. He left sharply.

Man må fortsatt ha væpnet eskorte for å trafikere en viss veistrekning fra regionsentret Kashgar.

Kineserne har pumpet inn store summer for å modernisere og utvikle Kashgar. Men det er en utvikling som ikke bringer folk sammen. Muslimene lever i sine områder, og vil ikke ha noe med Han-kineserne å gjøre.

I provinshovedstaden Uruqi lever en annen gruppe muslimer, Hui, som er mer radikale enn uighurene. Kinesiske myndigheter forsto for sent at salafist-læren hadde trengt inn via saudi-arabiske penger.

Nå har myndighetene inndratt alle pass og umuliggjort pilgrimesferden til Mekka. Det vekker stor frustrasjon.

Behandlingen av barna er et kapitel for seg. Denne pågår over hele Kina, men får en ekstra dimensjon når motsetningene er så sterke på grunn av etnisitet og religion. Dette er clash of civilizations i praksis:

Then there is outright child slavery, exposed last month in a brave report by the Hong Kong magazine Phoenix Weekly. More than 4,000 Uighur children have been kidnapped and turned into beggars or thieves by «big brother» Fagin figures, an estimate confirmed by the provincial welfare office.

The gangmasters, usually Uighurs themselves, set daily targets of up to £50 for stealing or begging, on pain of beatings. The children are sent to richer parts of China, the girls subjected to sexual harassment and the boys tempted into drug addiction to make them easier to manipulate.

Almost as bad is the plight of hundreds of Muslim girls conscripted from desert villages and sent for «work experience» in factory sweatshops. Last March Chinese officials went into the dirt-poor villages around Yarkand, south of Kashgar, to collect more than 200 girls as young as 15 for a work programme.

The girls found themselves labouring long hours in a factory more than 1,000 miles from home on the east coast of China. Their promised wages of £33 a month went unpaid.

Several girls escaped and made their way back to Xinjiang. Chinese officials then threatened their relatives with punishment.

Beijing’s ‘war on terror’ hides brutal crackdown on Muslims

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