Rebiya Kadeer

The Chinese government is blaming the violence in its west on a woman named Rebiya Kadeer. They are calling her a “an ironclad separatist colluding with terrorists and Islamic extremists.” The Chinese Communist Party has a long and estranged relationship with the truth. And the vilification of Kadeer ranks right up there with their portrayal of Dalai Lama as an “evil splitist.” (In fact, the People’s Daily has called Kadeer a “Uighur Dalai Lama.”)

The government rhetoric is primarily aimed at a domestic audience, intended to stir Han Chinese nationalism as the basis for a legitimacy and unity that communist ideology cannot provide. But in Kadeer’s case, the rhetoric is a two-fer. It is deliberately and cynically aimed at biases and fears in the West.

Don’t believe any of it. Rebiya Kadeer is a democracy and human rights activist, former political prisoner in China, freed in large part due to intensive support from the United States. She is President of the Uighur American Association and the World Uighur Congress – two organizations supported financially by the National Endowment for Democracy.

You can read Kadeer’s take on the violence in Western China here. One can only hope that the Obama Administration reads it, too. The White House and Secretary of State have called on “all sides to exercise restraint”. Certainly, the Administration is right to condemn violence against innocent civilians, whatever their ethnicity. But to boil the situation down to a moral equivalent, fault-on-both-sides sort of thing is cruel. The Chinese government has a basic monopoly on use of force. And it is the underlying oppression of the central government that has made Xinjiang the powder keg it is.

Calling on all sides to exercise restraint is a classic State Department way of saying nothing. But as suspicions grow about the Administration’s penchant for valueless foreign policy, its “nothing” says a whole lot.