Central Asia Theater

Tibet: China orders forced resettlements

"Socialist villages"? Sounds to us more like keeping a restive population under control to faciliate a stable investment climate for tourism and other capitalist development—akin to the "model villages" the right-wing Guatemalan dictatorship imposed on the Maya peasantry in the '80s. Why does the Beijing regime maintain this propaganda charade? Are we the ony ones who grasp the cognitive dissonance? From McClatchy Newspapers, May 6:

Uzbekistan: dissident released after "forced confession"

The ugly regime in Uzbekistan is certainly giving Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty all the grist they need for their propaganda mill. May 9:

Umida Niyazova fought for democracy and human rights in her native Uzbekistan.

But from a cage in a Tashkent courtroom on May 8, Niyazova made a "confession" that amounted to an apparent repudiation of all she stands for. She even criticized Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based rights organization for which she had worked as a translator.

Uzbekistan: rights defender gets seven years

A court in Tashkent convicted Umida Niyazova, a human rights activist of distributing Islamic extremist propaganda, and sentenced her to seven years in prison May 1. Niyazova, who was a translator for based Human Rights Watch and wrote for independent online publications, was convicted after a two-day trial that journalists and international monitors were prohibited from attending. Amnesty International calls her a prisoner of conscience.

China: another Uighur dissident imprisoned

Canada has officially protested the sentencing a Canadian Uighur rights activist to life imprisonment in his native China. Huseyincan Celil was convicted on charges of "splitting the motherland" and participating in terrorist groups. Celil, who was born in China's Xinkiang autonomous region but won Canadian citizenship as a political refugee, was arrested in Uzbekistan and deported to China last May. Canadian officials have since been trying to gain access to him, and are angry that he had to appear at his trial—in the Urumqi Intermediate People's Court in Xinkiang—without a Canadian diplomat present. Canada also said it was concerned about claims that Celil had been tortured.

China imprisons Uighur dissident

A court in Urumqi, the capital of China's restive Xinkiang autonomous region, has sentenced the son of exiled Uighur nationalist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rebiya Kadeer to nine years in prison for secessionist activities. Ablikim Abdiriyim was found guilty of posting articles advocating secessionism on the Internet and related (nonviolent) offenses. (Radio Australia, April 18)

Al-Qaeda link to Uighur separatists?

A Chinese politician from the predominantly Muslim and ethnic Uighur province of Xinkiang in China's far west has claimed that 18 people killed in a raid on alleged terrorist training camp had links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Shi Dagang said 17 other members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) were arrested during the operation in January. "Their terrorists were trained by the Taliban in Afghanistan and sent to China by them," Shi Dagang said during a news conference at China's annual legislative session in Beijing. He also claimed that more than 1,500 semi-assembled grenades were seized in the raid east of China's border with Kyrgyzstan.

Pipeline politics top Hu-Putin meet

Chinese president Hu Jintao has arrived in Moscow to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and oil and gas deals are expected to dominate the discussions. Hu's three-day visit "aims to strengthen political trust and push forward the economic and trade partnership," Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui told reporters. "Energy is an extremely important constituent of relations and cooperation between China and Russia," Li emphasized. China has imported increasing volumes of Russian oil by rail in recent years, and hopes this will be an interim measure pending completion of a pipeline linking China to Russia's far east. Russia also plans to pipe 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually through a pipeline that runs to China's far western region of Xinkiang, said Russia's ambassador to China Sergei Razov. By 2011, Russian natural gas is slated flow through two pipelines in Xinkiang and a second route to northeastern China, he said.

Anti-Chechen pogrom in Kazakhstan

At least three were killed and scores injured in clashes between Chechens and Kazakhs outside Kazakhstan's chief city of Almaty this week. The violence apparently began with an alcohol-fueled brawl in the town of Kazatkom in Almaty Region. Akhmed Muradov, spokesman of the Chechen community in Kazakhstan, said a crowd of Kazakh youths took to the streets, burning cars, beating Chechens and throwing Molotov cocktails into Chechen homes. Violence spread to nearby villages, with several homes burnt down in Malovodnoe. Special police forces are now maintaining order in the area.

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