This time, the lonely protester was joined by more than 100 fellow activists.
by Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur with Gulfiye Y
A Uyghur event of remembrance and celebration of independence and freedom over the tyranny and genocide by China was held on Sunday, November 13, at Dam Square, Amsterdam. The commemoration of the Republic of East Turkestan Day was organized by the Support Uyghurs organization.
Am I to be denied the remembrance of our history of struggle for independence, freedom, and self-determination? Through the genocide of our people, China answers “yes” to this question.
For the last five years, I had no contact with 19 family members. I made every effort to contact them through different channels. Even with the Netherlands’ diplomatic involvement, the Chinese government is non-responsive and evades any answer. The disappearance of my family is living proof of the Chinese government’s crimes against my relatives, as well as evidence of similar atrocities against millions of Uyghurs. I try my best to survive in this world. The remembrance of the Uyghur national day is one way to keep my roots and identity alive and relevant.
I started a one-man protest at Dam Square in Amsterdam on June 23, 2018, and every week since. Dam Square is a major tourist attraction and is internationally known. It was to raise awareness of the Chinese government’s genocide in East Turkestan to as wide an exposure as I could hope for as one man. On November 2019, I began to commemorate publicly the anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of East Turkestan, in response to the ongoing genocide and the reluctance of governments and organizations to acknowledge the existence of East Turkestan as a nation.
I have been receiving threats from Chinese, and death threats from within the Netherlands. I have asked the Dutch Interior Ministry for security. The Dutch government has paid close attention to this matter and now, when I set up my protests, the police watch for my safety until I leave the protest site.
The Dutch Parliament has recognized the Chinese government’s actions in East Turkestan as crimes against humanity and genocide, as have many other countries and organizations.
I feel that it is my responsibility and obligation to the nation to keep alive the memory of independence day of East Turkestan of November 12, 1933 and 1944 (two attempts). I arranged the 2022 East Turkestan Republic Day activities at the Dam Square differently than in previous years.
I invited representatives of the Tibetan, South Mongolian, and Hong Kong populations, as well as Cantonese who share similar experiences of oppression and persecution under the tyranny and occupation of the Chinese Communist Party. It is put upon the conscience of every East Turkestan national to remember the Republic Day of East Turkestan; an historical event that the genocide and extermination of the Uyghur people try to erase from memory and history.
On Sunday, November 13, more than 100 activists from various cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and other countries, held up the flag of East Turkestan, the blue flag with the moon and stars, and a poster stating “We will celebrate the Republic of East Turkestan.” The crowd marched around the Square; the national anthem of East Turkestan was played with a flag-raising ceremony.
After the observance, several speakers, including myself, gave presentations in Uyghur, Dutch, and English about the history of the Chinese occupation, the harm and the victims of the genocide. Pro-democracy and Christian Chinese activists participated, focusing on the Chinese regime’s oppression and persecution of different political and religious groups, and exposed China’s disgraced and vilified policies.
It is my sincere hope that my personal activities and sacrifices in the one-man protest of the last four years, and the many events initiated, will become a solid foundation for the “Support Uyghurs” organization, and will bring many more like-minded individuals and entities to work together and efficiently towards a common goal.