World Uyghur Congress a US-backed network seeking the ‘fall of China’: US news website

By Liu Xin and Fan Lingzhi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/15 15:58:40

Citizens shop in the International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May 2, 2019. Photo: cnsphoto

An article published by the US-based news site Grayzone unveiled the self-proclaimed "peaceful" organization World Uyghur Congress (WUC) is a US-backed right-wing regime-change network seeking the "fall of China." Chinese observers said WUC has never cared about Uygur people's rights as the organization heavily relies on US funding and political guidance. The WUC has become a political tool for the US new Cold War and media campaign against China. 

Nearly everything that appears in Western media accounts of China's Uygur Muslims is "the product of a carefully conceived media campaign generated by" the WUC, which is "funded and trained by the US government," wrote Ajit Singh in the Grayzone on March 5. 

The investigation also revealed the close connection between the US and the WUC, noting that "the WUC is not a grassroots movement, but a US government-backed umbrella for several Washington-based outfits that also rely heavily on US funding and direction." 

"Today, it is the main face and voice of a separatist operation dedicated to destabilizing the Xinjiang region of China and ultimately toppling the Chinese government."

US sugar daddy 

The WUC, which is headquartered in Munich, Germany, is an international umbrella organization with a network of 33 affiliates in 18 countries around the world. According to its website, WUC branches are mainly located in Western countries, including the US, UK, and Australia, as well as Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. 

From its inception, the WUC has been backed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). With millions in US taxpayer money, the NED and its subsidiaries have backed opposition parties, "civil society" groups, and media organizations in countries targeted by the US for regime change, according to the Grayzone investigation. 

The NED was founded in 1983 and claimed to be a private nonprofit fund dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. It offers more than 1,600 grants each year to support the projects of nongovernmental groups abroad that are working for so-called democratic goals in more than 90 countries and regions. The money largely comes from the US Congress.

Allen Weinstein, a co-founder of the NED, told The Washington Post in 1991 that "a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

In 2018, the NED provided the WUC and its offshoots with close to $665,000. This reached $960,000 in 2019, showing an increase of nearly 45 percent than that of the previous year, according to NED's website. 

Many projects affiliated with WUC and its affiliate organizations also get money from NED. For example, the main project spun out of the Uyghur American Association (UAA) and the NED is the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP). The UHRP was founded by the UAA in 2004. The NED granted the UHRP a "whopping $1,244,698 between 2016 and 2019," according to the Grayzone. 

Zheng Liang, a research fellow at Guangdong-based Jinan University, who studied Xinjiang for more than 10 years, told the Global Times the increasing fund from NED to the WUC means the US has deepened involvement in Xinjiang affairs and one of its purposes is to contain China.

"It also showed that some forces within the US government are manipulating the WUC to interfere with China-US ties. This seems to be a more and more handy trick for them," Zheng said. 

NED's increasing cash flows into the WUC has encouraged the organization  and its offshoots to slander and attack China, Wang Jiang, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. 

"Starting from 2018, overseas anti-China forces have ramped their efforts on organizing campaign of slandering China, especially on the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang. More fake news on Xinjiang has been made and spread widely and rampantly in the past two years. The WUC has also been actively wandering around the world to lobby against China," Wang said. 

The NED has played a direct role in molding the direction and politics of the WUC. "Unsurprisingly, the WUC is tightly aligned with Washington's foreign policy agenda and hostile new Cold War strategy which seeks to contain and impede the rise of China, according to the Grayzone.

The Global Times reporters happened to see the current president of the WUC, Dolkun Isa, participating in activities at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council at the UN office in Geneva last week. The WUC also organized a photo exhibition at the Broken Chair Square outside the UN office, posting pictures of many Uygurs to call for "releasing of them." 

But interviews by the Global Times with people in the pictures tell a different story. The WUC took Xinjiang Uygur scholars' photos to lie to the outside world. 

The WUC has also developed its own way of raising money. It publishes its bank account information online and askes for donation. 

"The WUC has many agencies around the world, which means it has more channels to collect money. The number released on its website is tip of the iceberg," Wang said, noting that the WUC could also use NED's funding as a kind of recognition for them to raise money from other organizations. 

Liu Zhenjiang, a scholar from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region introduces a photo to visitors during an exhibition at the sidelines of the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva of Switzerland. Photo: Liu Xin/GT

Exerting influence through media 

To better serve NED's purpose, the WUC and its affiliated agencies make full use of traditional media and social media to spread sensational stories to slander China's policies in Xinjiang, including hyping the so-called leaked documents from Xinjiang published in The New York Times. 

The Grayzone investigation noted that the WUC is providing "a constant source of self-styled Uygur dissidents and human rights horror stories to eager Western reporters." The WUC and its affiliates - the UAA, UHRP, and Campaign for Uyghurs - are cited in nearly every Western media report on China's Uygur Muslims.

Many leading members of the WUC have also worked in senior positions for Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. These US government-run news agencies were created by the CIA during the Cold War to project propaganda into China and the Soviet Union, and to stir up opposition to communism on these countries' frontiers, according to the Grayzone.

Omer Kanat serves as the WUC's Chairman of the Executive Committee. He has a lengthy history of working with the US government, from serving as senior editor of Radio Free Asia's Uyghur Service from 1999 to 2009 to covering the US wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and interviewing the Dalai Lama for the network. 

As for Rushan Abbas, some Western media's favorite "human rights activist," she is one of the earliest "Uygur reporters" working for RFA when it was initially founded in 1998. 

According to information the Global Times acquired, Rushan went to the US to study in biogenetic engineering in 1989 and married a Turkish American after graduation. She was then hired by the CIA. 

Abbas boasts in her bio of her "extensive experience working with US government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, and various US intelligence agencies, according to the Grayzone. 

The colluding of anti-China forces and so-called media has offered great convenience to the WUC for making and spreading lies to slander China.

Wang said this kind of combination is unusual to see. "It's like we hardly see someone from the International Red Cross also works for BBC or CNN. The colluding of anti-China forces and so-called media could also confuse and deceive audiences."

The Global Times reporters found that many sensational stories of so-called victims of Xinjiang's training centers that had been reported by Western media could be traced to RFA, WUC and its offshoots. The claim of "1 million Uygurs being detained in Xinjiang" was furnished by Omer Kanat, who serves as the WUC's Chairman of the Executive Committee. 

Wang mentioned that some US politicians who were deeply involved with the passage of the Uygur bill in December 2019, got their information from "media" like RFA, which showed the legislation was based on misinformation about Xinjiang.

To cooperate with the US passage of the Uighur Act of 2019 in December 2019, the WUC and its affiliated agencies hyped topics, including "MeTooUyghur" and "MissingUyghur" on foreign social media. 

Compared with the previous version of the bill that got passed in the Senate, the amended act passed in December deleted many specific cases, many of which were fabricated by the WUC. But the act mentioned in one of its chapters that RFA "reporters" should get praised for their work.

Links to terrorist activities

Isa Yusuf Alptekin, the founding father of the WUC, developed strong ties with fascistic, ethno-supremacist Turkish nationalists, including Alparslan Türkes, the long-time leader of the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and its paramilitary arm, the Grey Wolves, according to the Grayzone. 

According to the Washington Post, Alparslan Türkes headed a murderous group of "right-wing terrorists, who are "blindly nationalist, fascist or nearly so, and bent on the extermination of the Communists." The fascistic militant group killed numerous left-wing activists, students, Kurds, and attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II.

In 2015, members of the MHP-affiliated Grey Wolves formerly led by Alparslan Türkes attacked South Korean tourists in Turkey, mistaking them for Chinese citizens, in protest of the situation in Xinjiang, according to the Grayzone. 

The Grey Wolves and Uygur militants were also blamed by Thailand's national police and an HIS-Jane's analyst of carrying out a 2015 bombing of a religious shrine in Thailand that killed 20 people. The attack was intended as revenge against the Thai government's decision to repatriate a group of Uygur Muslims to China.

Chinese experts reached by the Global Times said that there were Uygurs en route to Turkey, Syria or Iraq to join extremist groups fighting in the region such as the al-Qaeda-affiliated East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP).

The WUC continues to publish articles on its website that praise and celebrate Alparslan Türkes. The leading WUC representatives appealed to take an interventionist role in China akin to Turkey's actions in Libya and Syria in 2018.  Uygur militants dressed in Turkish military fatigues and on the Turkish side of the Syrian border released a video in which they threatened to wage war against China. 

The Global Times reporters saw in the video that a jihadist threatened in Chinese that he "will kill all the Chinese citizens."

As the Grayzone has pointed out, this evidence shows "the extremist and militant politics behind WUC's carefully cultivated image as a peaceful and nonviolent" human rights organization." 

Wang told the Global Times that in fact, the WUC has more relations with terrorist groups and that when the global anti-terrorism work has entered into a new era, "we need to notice the extremist shadow behind the WUC."

"Once there is a terrorist activity in Xinjiang or related to the region, the WUC would make all efforts in making fake news - not to mention the terror victims' human rights, but try to lead the opinion that 'terror attacks happened due to unfair treatment,'" said Wang.  

"Their moves to 'legalize' terrorist activities and offer support to organizations in recruiting new members are detrimental," Wang said, noting WUC's relentless efforts of making excuses for extremism expose their essence of supporting terrorism." 

From its founder to its current president, leaders of the WUC have never changed their goal of splitting Xinjiang from China and seeking regime change in China. 

The former WUC leader Rebiya Kadeer, a separatist from Xinjiang, also forged close connections with anti-China forces and overseas separatists, including the Dalai Lama. 

The current President of WUC is Dolkun Isa received a human rights award from the far-right Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was established by the US government in 1993.

In his acceptance speech, Dolkun emphasized "the Uygurs' resistance to communism" and that "we will not stop our work until we consign this destructive ideology, in the words of Ronald Reagan, to 'the ash heap of history.'"

The public utterance of WUC leaders' ambitions also showed that instead of caring about Uygur people's developments and rights, the organization only hypes related topics to serve the US Cold War against China, according to Wang.

Newspaper headline: Rogue congress

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