Fake Uyghurs v. Genuine Uyghurs in The Hague: What Exactly Happened

On February 24, a Chinese New Year festival in the Dutch capital’s City Hall featured Han Chinese children pretending to be Uyghurs. A confrontation with real Uyghurs followed: a testimony.

“To swap the beams with rotten timbers”. From the Chinese book of stratagems, ”The Thirty-Six Stratagems“

As the Chinese government’s economic strength grows, making it the world’s second-largest economy, they have increasingly held their cultural events in important places around the world. Behind these events, there are accusations of them stealing technology and defence systems from these countries. Additionally, there are actions of hindering, intimidating, and threatening those who oppose the Chinese government.

On Saturday, February 24, 2024, we received news that Chinese people held a Spring Festival event called ”Chinese New Year“ inside the city hall of The Hague, the political capital of the Netherlands. We immediately contacted Cantonese political activist Liu FeiLong and organised a protest in front of The Hague city hall with Uyghurs, Tibetans, Southern Mongolians, Cantonese, and Hong Kongers against the Chinese government.

The protest started at about 11:00 AM. Firstly, Cantonese political activist Liu FeiLong spoke about the purpose of the protest. Then, the chairman of the Support Uyghurs Foundation, Abdurehim Gheni Uyghur, made a speech. He mentioned, “Why are we gathered here today to protest against the Chinese government? Over the past 70 years, the Chinese government has severely oppressed people in East Turkistan, Tibet, Canton, and Southern Mongolia. The tragedy of ‘never again’ is happening again in the 21st century in East Turkistan. An unprecedented event in world history is taking place, with over three million Uyghurs in concentration camps and prisons undergoing unimaginable torture, hardship, and oppression.“ He also emphasized that due to the oppression by the Chinese government, he has been unable to contact 19 of his family members seven years. In Dutch, he stated, ”My 19 missing family members are evidence of the oppression and racial discrimination by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs, and also a true reflection of the situation of millions of Uyghurs.“

Then, the chairman of the East Turkistan Youth Congress, Ershat Islam, spoke in English about the crimes of the Chinese government, including how they conduct espionage activities in Western countries.

During the protest, slogans such as ”Fascist China,“ ”Terrorist China,“ ”Terrorist Xi Jinping,“ ”Wake up Netherlands! The Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese government is coming for you,“ ”Free East Turkistan,“ ”Free Tibet,“ ”Free Canton,“ ”Free Southern Mongolia,“ ”Free Hong Kong,“ and others were chanted.

Some Uyghurs discussed and decided that while some would protest outside the city hall building, others would enter the hall to observe the Spring Festival activities. Our intention was to see if the Chinese government would continue to deceive the world by showcasing some Uyghurs dancing in Arab countries, creating a false impression that ”Uyghurs in China are living well, rich, dancing, singing, and happy“ to deceive the world. Therefore, we wanted to see what was happening inside.

When Abdurahman Uyghur, Alijan, and I entered the hall where the Spring Festival activities were being held, we found it crowded. In one corner, we saw several Chinese people dressing a group of Chinese children in Uyghur ethnic costumes, preparing them to dance on stage. We took a walk around the hall and later found out that these children in Uyghur costumes were scheduled to perform at 3:00 PM.

We planned for Abdurahman to wait in the hall while the rest of us would return to the hall after the protest ended. When those children went on stage to dance, we would all go up with the flag of East Turkistan and declare, ”They are not Uyghurs! We are the real Uyghurs!“ I would also hold up photos of my 19 missing family members and ask, ”Chinese government! Where are my 19 missing family members?“ and ”Stop the genocide in East Turkistan!“

 We also planned to collectively chant slogans such as ”Free East Turkistan!“ ”China, get out of East Turkistan!“ ”China, stop the genocide in East Turkistan!“ ”Wake up Netherlands! The Chinese Communist Party is coming for you!“ in a peaceful, non-violent manner to express our demands. We hoped that even if the Chinese people came up to attack or stop us, we would not retaliate, expressing our dissatisfaction with the Chinese government peacefully.

The protest ended around 2:00 PM. Then, six of us Uyghurs entered the hall. I asked Zeytune’s mother, Nusrethan, to sit in one corner of the hall and watch our belongings, and then I asked Alijan and Zeytune to go to the second floor to film when we went on stage. After that, we took photos with our flag in front of the stage. I and Kurbanjan went down to the first floor.

At that moment, Abdurahman, near the stage, heard the host announce, ”I now declare the event is coming to an end.“ Thinking the event was about to end, he held up a sign saying ”East Turkistan is not part of China“ and loudly protested against the oppression by the Chinese government in East Turkistan and demanded, ”China, stop the genocide!“. Suddenly, several Chinese people came over, rudely grabbed Abdurahman’s hands and neck, and forcibly took him down to the ground. In an instant, more Chinese people came up, pulled Abdurahman off the stage, and took him out of the hall. Kurbanjan and I, coming down from the upstairs, were unaware of what had happened.

After coming downstairs, we waited until 3:00 PM for the Chinese children in Uyghur costumes to dance on stage, to show the world the Chinese government’s deception. At that moment, Ershat said that Abdurahman had been taken away by the security staff, so we realized we could not proceed as planned. Therefore, we changed our plan. We stood in front of the children dressed in Uyghur costumes and filmed videos as they went on stage, to express our opposition to and expose the deception by the Chinese government.

When Ershat spoke in English about how the Chinese people were deceiving everyone here, several Chinese people came up and started a physical altercation, even snatching Kurbanjan’s phone. Security personnel and police arrived later and stopped the Chinese people’s rude behaviour, asking us to leave the hall. After we left the hall, the police checked our IDs and told us that we were not allowed to re-enter or stay at the entrance.

At that moment, I wondered, ”Where have they taken Abdurahman?“ So, I called him, but he didn’t answer. Then, I called Zeytune and Alijan on the second floor, telling them not to come down yet. I instructed them to film the entire dance performance from start to finish and then come down. Since Zeytune speaks Turkish very well, I specifically instructed him, ”When you film, speak in Turkish, so that Turkish people can also be aware of the Chinese people’s deception.“

Later, Ershat and I spoke to the world in Uyghur and English about the incident. We talked about how the Chinese government had Chinese children wear Uyghur costumes and dance on stage at today’s Spring Festival event to deceive the world, and how they oppress people and genocide in East Turkistan.

During this time, the Dutch people who saw our activity were sympathetic and moved, encouraging us by saying, ”You did a great job! You conducted the protest and demonstration peacefully and non-violently. It was the Chinese people who embarrassed themselves. We are proud of you!“ They also said, ”Seize every opportunity to hold such peaceful protests. It’s your fundamental right. Through protests, you can let the world know about the shameless actions of the Chinese government, and you might even be able to take them to court. Don’t be afraid! Your actions won’t cause any problems with society or the law.“ We replied, ”We are very grateful to the Dutch government for granting us political asylum and citizenship. We are proud to be citizens of such a strong and fair country. As Uyghurs, we are always ready to contribute to the Dutch government. If there is an opportunity to repay the Netherlands in the future, we are willing to lay down our lives on the frontline.“

Abdurahman called me back, saying, ”The police asked me to pay a fine, and I can go home.“ Then, the police released Abdurahman. He quickly joined us, but we noticed that his forehead and face had turned red.

Abdurahman said that when he went on stage, a group of Chinese people rushed over and rudely pressed him to the ground. Under Dutch law, it is illegal to attack or lay hands on a person without a propensity for violence. We will not let this go. After receiving the fine notice, we plan to sue those Chinese people who attacked Abdurahman through a lawyer in court.

Written on February 26, 2024, Monday.

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