Rebiya Kadeer, Accused "Mastermind" Of Urumqi Protests, Speaks About Impact Of Social Media

Uighur women protested through the streets of Urumchi yesterday. According to the BBC, Uighur women and men were not armed and pleaded with the Chinese police force to release their sons, husbands, and fathers who were taken after Sunday’s riots. It’s reported that over 1,400 Uighurs were imprisoned in what has become the biggest protest in China since Tienanmen Square. Just hours after the Uighur protests, Han Chinese took to the streets. Witnesses say many carried knives, sticks, meat cleavers and wanted revenge.

What seems to have fallen through the cracks in main stream media is why these people are fighting. What exactly do the Uighurs want and how are they communicating?

In an exclusive interview, Allfacebook talked with Rediya Kadeer the president of the World Uighur Congress and the woman the Chinese government accused of being the “mastermind” behind Sunday’s protest. She called on the United States to speak out against the violence in Urumqi and establish a consulate. Though she is a peace advocate she said the Uighur people were no longer willing to compromise. “We have reached the point where a compromise is not possible,” said Rediya, a 62-year-old mother of 11. “Though I do not believe in violence, and did not organize these protests, I believe that the Uighur people have suffered long enough.” Rebiya spent years in a Chinese prison for her political beliefs before she was exiled to the United States in 2005. Disenchanted with main stream media’s coverage, she said social media was critical to the Uighurs cause. “Because media that comes out of China gets filtered by the Chinese government, social media let’s us talk with the people.”

Her daughter, Keke Rouzi, 19, a college student and activist at George Mason University, agreed. “Social Media is helping us organize events across the world and is a way that we are able to stay in touch with the Uighur people,” exclaimed Keke in an interview in front of the Chinese Embassy yesterday. “The mainstream media is more and more unreliable because a lot of it comes from China. We are not turning to social media for the truth. But this hard because we are working in a country like China.”

“My mother is a peace activist so it is disheartening when China accused her of inciting violence,” stated Keke. Half or her face was painted blue the colors of the East Turkestan flag. “I really think she is an inspiration to the Uighur people. When they see how hard she works to get justice they are inspired.” Two of Keke’s brothers were imprisoned in Urumchi several years ago for their political beliefs. It is doubtful that they will be released. China has the highest execution rate in the world and has promised to punish those arrested for inciting riots with the death penalty.

Two protesters recounted how they used social media to talk with their friends before the riots. “Facebook, Twitter and Gchat were effective means of communication,” said Elnigar Iltebir. Elnigar grew up in Urumchi but moved to the United States 8 years ago to get her masters at Harvard University. ” Since the Chinese government has cut the internet in Urumqi these voices are much harder to hear.” Elnigar is now getting her PHD from Maryland University.

Another protestor, Amanalla Azad, 25, recounted how he was on facebook chat with one of the protestors right until she went to Freedom Park to join the peaceful demonstration. “I told her to be careful, and leave if things got out of hand,” said Amanalla. He would not give the name of the woman he was referring to but said the two met in grade school in Urumchi. “I have not heard from her since Saturday.”

We would like to hear from you. Have you heard from Uighurs over seas or Han Chinese? How have you followed this story?

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