ITF EU Representative Dr. Hasan Aydinli attended the Conference “The City of Kashgar” at the EU Parliament

February 1, 2011 at 2:23 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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The City of Kashgar

An Oasis of the Silk Road on the Brink of Extinction

Conference at the EU Parliament

on 27th January 2011

Organised by the Office of Frieda Brepoels MEP

In collaboration with

UNPO & Belgian Uyghur Association

 Dr. Hassan Aydinli (Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative) and Merry Fitzgerald (Europe-Turkmen Friendships) attended the conference

In this photo:  Mr. Marino Busdachin, Ms. Frieda Brepoels MEP, Mr. Andrew Swan (UNPO), Mrs. Rebiya Kadeer and Mr. Mehmet Tohti.

What was not achieved by Genghis Khan is being done in the so-called name of progress.” This is the view of Rebiya Kadeer, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and President of the World Uyghur Congress, on the steady and unrelenting destruction of the historic Silk Road city of Kashgar.

Without meaningful public consultation and omitted from applications to UNESCO’s World Heritage listing, Kashgar’s unique urban fabric is being lost day by day, month by month as the resul of the Chinese Communist Party politics. Cities have embraced the twenty-first century without losing their identity – but Kashgar is losing its identity as Beijing’s central policy seeks to transform the city into a touristic theme park.

Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of the UNPO, places Kashgar in a regional context in which “any culture which is not state-sanctioned is endangered – Lhasa has been destroyed, Beijing’s Gulou district will become, without irony, the Beijing Time Cultural City – cultural genocide is real and it is happening now.”

Abdymutalip Imerov, President of the Belgian Uyghur Association, stressed that Kashgar represented a “jewel of Uyghur culture, not only for the Uyghurs of China but for all the Uyghurs of the world.”

After the opening remarks by Frieda Brepoels MEP (Greens/EFA), Marino Busdachin, General Secretary (UNPO) and Rebiya Kadeer, President (World Uyghur Congress) presentations were made by: Haiyun Ma (Laogai Research Foundation), Mehmet Tohti (World Uyghur Congress), Henryk Szadziewski (Uyghur Human Rights Project), Ulrich Delius (Society for Threatened Peoples), Vincent Metten (International Campaign for Tibet) and Suzanne van Haeverbeeck (former World Heritage Expert).

The participants stressed the importance of preserving the Turkic/Uyghur identity of the city of Kashgar which is over 2000 years old. The city which is situated in the north-west of China is threatened with destruction. In the coming five years about 200,000 people are to be re-housed in so-called earthquake-proof apartment buildings. The project which began on 27th February 2009, involves the destruction of 85 pervent of the basic fabric, which is centuries old. Kashgar has the reputation of being the most important Islamic town in central Asia in terms of cultural history.  Only 15 percent of the old houses are to be retained in the framework of an open-air museum to present to the 1.5 million tourists – from home and abroad – the old Islamic culture.

Henryk Szadziewski reminded us that Kashgar is the city of Mahmud Kashgari who wrote the first comprehensive dictionary of Turkic languages, the Dīwānu l-Luġat al-Turk (Arabic: “Compendium of the languages of the Turks”) in 1072 which  was intended for use by the Caliphs of Baghdad. author of the first comprehensive dictionary in 10th century. He also said that Kashgari’s Madrasa was destroyed in June 2009.

According to Ulrich Delius, the people affected (Uyghurs) have not been properly brought into the process of planning the project. They complain that they are not given adequate information on the forthcoming resettlement. By the middle of June 2009 some 5 percent of the Old Town, including several districts and streets had been destroyed.

In the past Kashgar has been the capital of many Uyghur kingdoms, therefore, destroying Kashgar is not only the destruction of a city but it is the destruction of the identity of the Uyghurs. The Han Chinese want to assimilate the Uyghurs, they are moving in massively in order to change the ethnic composition of the city. The destruction of the Old Town of Kashgar is a massive attempt of the Chinese authorities to secure their control over the Uyghurs at any price. But for Kashgar and the Uyghurs it is a catastrophe. The existing tensions between the Uyghurs and the Chinese administration and between different ethnic groups will be aggravated even further.

The Society for Threatened Peoples made several recommendations: that the Chinese authorities immediately stop the resettlement and the destruction of the Old Town of Kashgar, that the Old Town of Kashgar be placed under the protection of the World Cultural Heritage of the United Nations, that the immigration and settlement of Han Chinese be prevented in new estates in Kashgar and in the whole autonomous region of Xinjiang.

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli spoke  to the organiser of the conference, MEP Frieda Brepoels, about the city of KERKUK, the Turkmens’ cultural capital  in Iraq, saying that KERKUK, as KASHGAR, deserves to receive the attention of  international organisations such as  UNESCO, the Society for Threatened Peoples, etc. He informed her that under the arabization policy of the former regime several important Turkmen monuments and traditional Turkish houses in Kerkuk had been destroyed and that since April 2003 when the U.S. military allowed the Kurdish Peshmerga to invade and occupy the city the Kurds too were trying to obliterate  the city’s Turkmen character .

MEP Frieda Brepoels who was a practising architect  before turning  her energies to Belgian politics and before being elected  in 2004 to the EU Parliament showed great interest when Dr. Aydinli spoke  about  the need to preserve  the city’s Turkmen character  by protecting and/or renovating  its numerous ancient monuments, such as the  Citadel and the traditional Turkish houses.  To better illustrate the urgency of this matter Dr. Aydinli gave her a copy of Dr. Suphi Saatçi’s book “The Urban Fabric and Traditional Houses of Kirkuk”.  Ms. Brepoels thanked him and said she would read  it with great interest.

 Traditional Uyghur musicians and dancers who gave a performance at the end of the conference.



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