Fake Uyghurs v. Genuine Uyghurs in The Hague: What Exactly Happened

China Uyghur Uighur Xinjiang

As the Chinese government’s economic strength grows, making it the world’s second-largest economy, propaganda cultural events are increasingly held in important places around the world. Those who oppose them and protest are hindered, intimidated, and threatened.

Readers of “Bitter Winter” may remember me as the “lonely Uyghur” protesting in Dam Square in Amsterdam but now I have gathered some friends.

On Saturday, February 24, 2024, we received news that the pro-CCP All Dutch Federation of Chinese Societies, with the participation of the Chinese Embassy, was holding a Spring Festival event called “Chinese New Year” inside the City Hall of The Hague, the political capital of the Netherlands. We immediately contacted Cantonese political activist Liu Feilong and organized a protest in front of the City Hall with Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians, Cantonese, and Hongkongers, all united against the Chinese government and its propaganda.

The protest started at about 11:00 AM. Liu Feilong spoke about the purpose of the protest. Then, I gave a speech myself as chairperson of the “Stichting Support Uyghurs” organization. I mentioned, “Why are we gathered here today to protest against the Chinese government? Over the past 70 years, the Chinese government has severely oppressed people in East Turkistan, Tibet, Canton, Southern Mongolia, and Hong Kong. The tragedy of ‘never again’ is happening again in the 21st century in East Turkistan. An unprecedented event in world history is taking place, with over three million Uyghurs in concentration camps and prisons undergoing unimaginable torture, hardship, and oppression.” I also emphasized that due to the oppression by the Chinese government, I have been unable to contact nineteen of my family members for seven years. Speaking in Dutch, I continued, “My nineteen missing family members are evidence of the oppression and racial discrimination by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs, and also a true reflection of the situation of millions of Uyghurs.”

Then, the chairman of the East Turkistan Youth Congress, Ershat Islam, spoke in English about the crimes of the Chinese government, including how they conduct espionage activities in Western countries.

During the protest, slogans such as “Fascist China,” “Terrorist China,” “Terrorist Xi Jinping,” “Wake up Netherlands! The Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government is coming for you,” “Free East Turkistan,” “Free Tibet,” “Free Canton,” “Free Southern Mongolia,” “Free Hong Kong,” and others were chanted.

We decided that, while some would protest outside the City Hall building, others would enter the hall to observe the Spring Festival activities. Our intention was to see if the Chinese government would continue to deceive the world by showcasing some “Uyghurs” dancing in “Arab” costumes, creating a false impression that “Uyghurs in China are living well, rich, dancing, singing, and being happy” to deceive the public. Therefore, we wanted to see what was happening inside.

When Abdurahman Uyghur, Alijan, and I entered the hall where the Spring Festival activities were being held, we found it crowded. In one corner, we saw several persons dressing a group of Han Chinese children in Uyghur ethnic costumes, preparing them for dancing on stage. We took a walk around the hall and later found out that these children in Uyghur costumes were scheduled to perform at 3:00 PM.

We planned for Abdurahman to wait inside while the rest of us would wait outside and re-enter the hall at 3 p.m. When those children will go on stage to dance, we will all stand up with the flag of East Turkistan and declare, “They are not Uyghurs! We are the real Uyghurs!” I will also hold up photos of my nineteen missing family members and ask, “Chinese government! Where are my nineteen missing family members?” and “Stop the oppression and racial discrimination in East Turkistan!”

We also planned to collectively chant slogans such as “Free East Turkistan!” “China, get out of East Turkistan!” “China, stop the racial discrimination in East Turkistan!” “Wake up Netherlands! The Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government is coming for you!” in a peaceful, non-violent manner to express our demands. We decided that even if the Chinese came up to attack or stop us, we would not retaliate, expressing our dissatisfaction with the Chinese government peacefully.

The protest  outside ended around 2:00 PM. Then, six of us Uyghurs entered the hall. I asked Zeytune’s mother, Nusrethan, to sit in one corner of the hall and watch our belongings, and then I asked Alijan and Zeytune to go to the second floor to film when we went on stage. After that, we took photos with our flag in front of the stage. I and Kurbanjan went down to the first floor.

At that moment, Abdurahman, who was near the stage, heard the host announce, “I now declare the event is coming to an end.” Thinking the event was about to end, he held up a sign with the word “East Turkistan is not part of China” and loudly protested the oppression by the Chinese government in East Turkistan and demanded, “Chinese government, stop your racial discrimination!” Suddenly, several Chinese people came over, rudely grabbed Abdurahman’s hands and neck, and forcibly took him down to the ground. In an instant, more Chinese came, pulled Abdurahman off the stage, and took him out of the hall. Kurbanjan and I, who were coming down from upstairs, were unaware of what had happened.

After coming downstairs, we waited until 3:00 PM for the Chinese children in Uyghur costumes to dance on stage, ready to denounce the Chinese government’s deception. At that moment, Ershat said that Abdurahman had been taken away by the security staff, so we realized we could not proceed as planned. Therefore, we changed our plan. We stood in front of the children dressed in Uyghur costumes and filmed videos as they went on stage, to express our opposition and expose the deception by the Chinese government.

When Ershat spoke loudly in English about how the Chinese were deceiving the public, several Chinese came up and started a physical altercation with us, even snatching Kurbanjan’s phone. City security personnel and police arrived later and stopped the Chinese’s violent behaviour but asked us to leave the hall. After we left the hall, the police checked our IDs and told us that we were not allowed to re-enter or stay near the entrance.

At that moment, I wondered, “Where have they taken Abdurahman?” So, I called him, but he didn’t answer. Then, I called Zeytune and Alijan on the second floor, telling them not to come down yet. I instructed them to film the entire dance performance from start to finish and then come down. Since Zeytune speaks Turkish very well, I specifically instructed him, “When you film, speak in Turkish, so that Turkish people can also be aware of the Chinese  deception.”

Later, Ershat and I told the audience in Uyghur and English about the incident. We talked about how the Chinese government had Chinese children wear Uyghur costumes and dance on stage at the Spring Festival event to deceive the public, and how they oppress people and practice racial discrimination in East Turkistan.

During this time, several Dutch passersby who saw our demonstration were quite sympathetic and encouraged us by saying, “You did a great job! You conducted the protest and demonstration peacefully and non-violently. It was the Chinese who embarrassed themselves. We are proud of you!” One told us, “Seize every opportunity to hold such peaceful protests. It’s your fundamental right. Through protests, you can let the world know about the shameless actions of the Chinese government, and you might even be able to take them to court. Don’t be afraid! Your actions won’t cause any problems with society or the law.” We replied, “We are very grateful to the Dutch government for granting us political asylum and citizenship. We are proud to be citizens of such a strong and fair country. As Uyghurs, we are always ready to support the Netherlands. If there is an opportunity to repay the Netherlands in the future, we are even willing to lay down our lives on the frontline.”

Abdurahman called me back, saying, “The police asked me to pay a fine, and I can go home.” Then, the police released Abdurahman. He quickly joined us, but we noticed that his forehead and face had turned red.

Abdurahman said that when he went on stage, a group of Chinese people rushed over and rudely pressed him to the ground. Under Dutch law, it is illegal to attack or lay hands on a person who is not behaving violently. We will not let it go. After receiving the fine notice, we plan to hire a lawyer sue the Chinese who attacked Abdurahman.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor

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