A Turning Point of History

A speech delivered by Zubayra Shamseden of UHRP at the 2019 annual ‘Keep Taiwan Free’ event in New York on September 7, 2019


Dear Jenny and other organizers of this great event.

I am honored to be here today to join you and support you to ‘Keep Taiwan Free’ from the Chinese Communist government’s totalitarian regime.

Taiwan is currently a free and democratic state. It is a beacon of hope for those inside mainland China under the dictatorial regime of Xi Jinping. It is a society where freedom of expression without persecution, detention, torture, and disappearance is possible. It is a version of what China can be, where corrupt state officials, government-backed elites, and selected “patriotic” people can be tried through its political system, where its citizens can live without fear of the government demolishing their homes or disappearing them into black jails for speaking about their rights as citizens. It is a place where people can practice their faiths and beliefs without kowtowing to Xi Jinping and the CCP.

Hong Kong was also once a place relatively free from CCP control through its one country two systems policy. We have all watched as the people of Hong Kong come out to protest when the CCP moved to gain more control over the region through its extradition bill. Now, three months on, the demonstrators have shown us what unity, the people, and democracy in action can look like against an authoritarian regime.

Yet the CCP will not back down. Instead of listening to legitimate complaints from Hong Kong, they have shown us an unwillingness to work for its people, and reacted with police brutality, arrests, violence, fear, rigidity, and by bringing in their army. This is not a “people’s republic.” This is Xi Jinping’s dictatorship.

The situation in Hong Kong right now is a turning point – the way Tiananmen Square was a turning point. The way the July 5th, 2009 massacre of protestors in Urumchi was a turning point for Uyghurs. Protest, crackdown, and silence. That is what happened in the past. The world did not respond to China then. Thousands were killed, and thousands more disappeared. The world believed China would solve their internal problems and move to become a better country. The world was wrong.

After 2009, the CCP created its most securitized surveillance state in East Turkestan, an open-air prison on all accounts, and detained up to 3 million of its citizens in concentration camps. What’s happening to the Uyghurs is a blueprint for what can happen to the rest of China, and if unchecked, many of these tactics to control people will enter – and are already entering – Hong Kong, Taiwan and the rest of the world.

Keep Hong Kong free. Keep Taiwan free. Time and time again the CCP have proven to us that we cannot believe their empty promises. We need true democracy and freedom. We need to value our identity, worth, beliefs, and dignity – we need to resist CCP assimilation. Do not give up on what makes you who you are. We need to be able to live without fear of persecution based on our different appearances, our languages, beliefs, cultures, and lifestyles; without fear that these aspects of ourselves will be destroyed in favor of complete conformity to the Party’s will. We need to live without the fear and devastation of family separation, forced marriages, the destruction of private life with government state officials literally living in our homes, forcing us to eat, sleep, and live with the very people who oppress us. This is what will happen if we do not keep Taiwan free. We need Freedom to move into China; we do not want the CCP’s regime to spread to the rest of the world.

Taiwan has been an example to millions of Chinese people that also deserve an open, free society. Each and every Chinese person, who desires freedom should support and protect the democracy in Taiwan.

Currently the Chinese communist government under Xi, instead of using Taiwan as a role model to implement democratic rule in China, intends to make it a part of China like East Turkestan, Tibet and Southern Mongolia.

Our Uyghur, Tibetan, Mongol and other Chinese democracy movement activism and the current atrocity that is taking place in East Turkestan proves that under the Chinese communist regime, it is impossible to have freedom, democracy, peace, justice, equality and a humane life.

Everyone here today – all of our fates are connected. This is a crucial time for us, a turning point in history, and it is critical that we fight together, and work together, to:

Keep Taiwan Free, Keep Hong Kong free,

Make East Turkestan, Tibet and Inner Mongolia free from the Chinese dictatorship.


This post was originally published on UYGHUR HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT BLOG.