CFU PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 09:30 AM ET
Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU) solemnly commemorates the 27th anniversary of the Ghulja Massacre, which took place on this day in 1997 when peaceful Uyghur protesters in the northern city of Ghulja in East Turkistan were brutally suppressed by Chinese security forces. The horrific onslaught in Ghulja marked an early and violent assertion of the policies that have now culminated in the ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in East Turkistan.
In the months leading up to the tragic Ghulja Massacre, the Chinese government imposed a ban on meshrep, a Uyghur social tradition known for its positive role in fostering community cohesion and cultural identity. This ban, justified by authorities under the pretext of “national security threats,” triggered a wave of arrests targeting thousands who were involved in these communal gatherings. The situation escalated in 1997 when a group of Uyghur women were detained for participating in a meshrep, prompting a mass peaceful demonstration on February 5th, in Ghulja. The protestors, voicing their demands for the release of the detainees and the restoration of their religious and cultural freedoms, were met with brutal force by the Chinese security forces. This ruthless suppression resulted in the death of over 100 individuals and left numerous others injured, marking a dark day in Uyghur history. In the massacre’s wake, the crackdown on Uyghurs intensified, leading to the arrest of nearly 4,000 Uyghurs and the execution of 200, further underscoring the Chinese government’s relentless assault on Uyghur identity and rights.
The events of February 5th, 1997, foreshadowed the comprehensive and systematic oppression that has escalated to what is now recognized as a genocide. This includes mass detentions, severe restrictions on religious and cultural practices, forced labor, forced abortions and sterilizations, forced marriages of Uyghur women to Han Chinese men, and widespread surveillance, all under the guise of combating “extremism” and “terrorism.”
On the occasion of the twenty-seven year anniversary of the Ghulja Massacre, Rushan Abbas, Executive Director of CFU noted that the Uyghur people would always commemorate the courage and sacrifice of the victims of this calamity. “The Ghulja Massacre was not only a tragedy but a clear indication of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) broader genocidal intent. The international community’s failure to respond adequately then emboldened the CCP. Today, as we witness the continuation of the Uyghur genocide, it is imperative that we stand in solidarity with the Uyghur people and demand action. Our collective silence and inaction have dire consequences not only for the Uyghurs but for global democracy and human rights,” Rushan Abbas said.
CFU honors the memory of those who lost their lives in the Ghulja Massacre and remains committed to advocating for the rights and freedoms of Uyghurs and other ethnic Turkic Muslims suffering in East Turkistan. We call on governments, international organizations, and individuals around the world to join us in this fight against impunity and to take concrete steps to hold the Chinese government accountable for its crimes against humanity.