In the center of the desert landscapes of Taklamakan, in the north-west part of China, the land of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is a very least populated province while it covers close to a sixth of the nation's territory. Getting resisted while in generations the Han Chinese control, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or Old Eastern Turkistan, fell under the Chinese Han domination in 1949. From then, its population is mainly Uyghurs and Turkish - speaking System.
Muslim above all, the Uyghur people have a solid religious identity which, in specific, enabled them to preserve a solid big difference in opposition to the Chinese enemy. Without a doubt, the Uyghur Kingdom of Mongolia knew a amazing civilization, until its absorption by the Mongolian Empire in the XIIIth century.
While in their history, the Uyghur People successively adopted Shamanism, Manicheism, Buddhism and the Nestorianism before finally changing to Islam when the Arab conquerors beat the Chinese in year 751 BC., thus beginning the way to the Islamization of the whole Central Asia.
Under the influence of the beliefs which they taken on, the Uyghurs used successively, and sometimes in a competing way, a large number of written forms (turco-runic, brahmi, tokharien, soghdien) before developing their own unique graphic system.
The coming of Islam was a great change simply because it was accompanied by the absorption of the Uyghur areas in the immense Turkic and Muslim Kingdom. Thus, the descendants of Genghis Khan progressively replaced their writing by a Arabo-Persan alphabet, still used at present.
If their writing, their own language and their religion mark a real big difference with the culture of Chinese Han, the Uyghurs also are different from their characteristic, so aspect of Central Asia's people. A matt skin, eyes representing a whole pallet of colors, from black to deep blue, features directing out to the Mongolian, Turkish or Uzbek roots of these men and these women.
For a few years, China has included the proper identity of these remote people, though they represent only nine million people - a little for this kind of huge region. So, Uyghur people are now part of the 56 racial minority groups having been known in an official way by the People's Republic of China.
This law will allow these people a few rights in a country where their difference is very often repressed. Thus, Uyghur families escape the "single child policy" and their language is recognized as the second official language in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The integration of the Uyghur people and their culture in the People's Republic of China, however, appears pretty illusory. The presence of natural resources in Xinjiang, and its proximity with nations recognised as sensitive, clearly urged the government to increase the sinicization of this area. Million of Han thus came to settle in this new Chinese eldorado, monopolizing the more significant responsibility job opportunities.
In response to this true will to assimilate the Uyghur people into the Chinese culture, an independent party like East Turkistan Islamic Movement(ETIM) was born in the early 1990.
Asserting more flexibility, but in particular the acceptance of their true identity, this movement was seriously repressed by the power authorities in location Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The events of September 11, 2001, were the perfect occasion for the Chinese government to justify true reprisals: they declared the "Uyghur freedom fighters" as dangerous terrorists linked to Al Quaida because of their Muslim origins and their proximity with Pakistan and Afghanistan... However, the terrible repression which followed did not calm down the anger. The Uyghur peoples population continues today to proudly keep their identification and their civilization , although they become a minority on their own territory.