Thursday, July 09, 2009



The following statement from the Philippine branch of Amnesty International was recently published at the Manila Indymedia site.


China: Fair and impartial investigation must be launched in Urumqi:
Date: 6 July 2009
By Amnesty International
Amnesty International today called on the authorities in Urumqi to immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation into reports that 140 people were killed when a protest turned violent late on Sunday.

"The Chinese authorities must fully account for all those who died and have been detained. Those who were detained solely for peacefully expressing their views and exercising their freedom of expression, association and assembly must be released immediately. A fair and thorough investigation must be launched resulting in fair trials that are in accordance with international standards without recourse to the death penalty”, said Roseann Rife, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director Asia-Pacific.

“There has been a tragic loss of life and it is essential that an urgent independent investigation takes place to bring all those responsible for the deaths to justice”, said Roseann Rife. “Violence and abuses from either the authorities or protestors is in no way justified.”

Amnesty International urged the authorities to respect their obligations under domestic and international law which protect peaceful freedom of expression and assembly, prohibit arbitrary arrest and torture or ill-treatment in custody. The organization also called on the authorities to allow free access for domestic and foreign journalists and independent observers to report on the incident.

Xinhua, an official state news agency, reported that police in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and home to over 8 million Uighurs, have arrested several hundred participants, including more than ten key figures that were accused of instigating the unrest, and are still searching for approximately 90 more.

The protests are reported to have begun with non-violent demonstrations against government inaction after a violent riot at a factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, resulted in two deaths. On 26 June, hundreds of Uighur workers clashed with thousands of Han Chinese workers at a factory where Uighurs had been recruited from the XUAR. Police have reportedly detained the man, a laid-off employee from the same factory, who circulated rumours which provoked the deadly clash. The official response to the violence in Guangdong was to impose an information black-out on the incident, with websites and online discussion boards instructed to delete posts related to the clash.

Beyond responding to the immediate outbreak of violence, authorities need to address issues that have given rise to tensions. Since the 1980s, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations. These include arbitrary detention and imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and serious restrictions on religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights.

Chinese government policies, including those that limit use of the Uighur language, severe restrictions on freedom of religion, and a sustained influx of Han Chinese migrants into the region, are destroying customs and, together with employment discrimination, fuelling discontent and ethnic tensions. The Chinese government has mounted an aggressive campaign that has led to the arrest and arbitrary detention of thousands of Uighurs on charges of “terrorism, separatism and religious extremism” for peacefully exercising their human rights.


Molly Notes:

This sort of thing, racist and xenophobic violence , as well as heavy handed government repression, is, of course, an all too familiar story. The sad thing is that such feelings of nationalism-on both sides- are an eternal guarantee that a free and egalitarian society is still very far away. All of the "national liberation" movements of the last century, and there were dozens and dozens of them, utterly failed in building a free society of equals. When something has been tried close to 100 times and it never works, one should consider the possibility that it simply cannot work.

As I have expressed earlier on this blog the decades of communist propaganda in countries such as China and the ex-Soviet bloc demonstrably failed to raise a generation which wasn't ready to go at each others' throats over atavistic ethnic identifications. Such "socialist paradises" were, of course, somewhat different in practice than they were in either rhetoric or in the glowing descriptions of them by their leftist sympathizers elsewhere in the world. Never forget that while idiotic leftists in North America and Europe were trumpeting the virtues of Maoism some decades ago the repression against ethnic minorities in China was at least 10 times worse than it is today. The fact that the propaganda of the Marxist regimes was at such variance with the reality of their rule was probably a factor in the inability of their propaganda to "take hold". The same can be seen today in countries such as Venezuela where the quasi-Marxist ruling class trumpets things such as "self-management" while doing its best to sabotage many efforts at same, while, at the same time, allowing corrupt plunder of state revenues on the part of its friends, known in that country as the 'Boli-Bourgeoise'. In the inevitable end the "hangover" will destroy the possibility for any sort of socialism, libertarian or otherwise, in that country for many years.

There is little doubt that the Chinese state is the major offender in the events in their western provinces, just as they were the major offender in Tibet. That recognition, however, shouldn't blind an objective observer from seeing that 1)the pre-communist state in such areas was no paradise either, and that in some ways it was worse than what exists today and 2)any state built by the ethnic minorities should they achieve the almost hopeless goal of succession will probably be no paradise either and may also be worse than what exists there today. Worse from the point of view of everyone besides the ambitious new ruling class of the right ethnicity who would rise to power in such a situation.

The history of the last century has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the idea that a group that is temporarily on the losing side (known as "oppression" in leftist parlance) has absolutely no claim to be morally superior to their temporary oppressors. When the tables are turned the new ruling class raised by "liberations" doesn't just turn the tables on the old enemy. Often they unite in solid bonds with the old "oppressors" when they begin to oppress yet others in their turn. The idea of the moral superiority of the 'losers' is a common myth, held in place by nothing but emotion and virulent intolerance of dissent amongst the left- especially the American left.

Events such as those in Xinjiang, however, should not evoke a "pox on all their houses" attitude. There is a way to oppose the power of a ruling class without demanding a belief in myth- a myth that merely reinforces the probability of the recurrence of such events in the future with different actors. Organizations such as Amnesty tread this line very well. What they try to do is propagandize for "rules" that ruling classes will have to obey because of public opinion.

Is this unrealistic ? I'm not 100% convinced one way or the other. What I do know beyond the shadow of a doubt is that it is far more realistic than opting to follow some party of "revolutionaries" who say they won't repeat the errors of the past because "they are the good guys". THAT is unrealistic almost to the point of insanity.

My own opinion, for what it is worth.... I hate to sound like a Marxist here, but I do tend to agree with a certain lazy, mooching, nasty, over-rated, conspiratorial old German philosopher here when he said that no mode of production (and class rule) passes away until it has exhausted all the possibilities of its development. Modify that in that I a)think the word "probably" should be put in front of "never",b)have totally different reasons for believing this than the pathetic philosophical fashion of one country for a short period of time and c) the completion of a historical "mission" certainly means more than the production of more widgets and pet rocks.

I tend to see the state socialist experiments (and their fascist mirrors) as inferior examples of the transition from capitalism to managerial society. I think that the managerial societies that have been evolved in North America, Europe and parts of east Asia are far more advanced in solving the problems of "oppression" that bedevil the left today. I think that the internal dynamics of developed managerial societies, given their essential meritocratic basis, are capable of either "solving" such questions of oppression or totally defanging them by offering opportunities for the most intelligent and energetic of the "oppressed" to enter the ruling class, thereby depriving the oppressed of their natural leaders. How close this will approximate to a real solution depends, of course, on the particular oppression in question.

I call this "completing the managerial revolution" in the same sense as socialists used to argue for support for "bourgeois democratic demands", as they called them before the Leninist purgatory of dictatorship. Thus I see nothing wrong, and everything right, about supporting demands for such things as "ethnic rights/national liberation" as long as it is bound by enough rules to inhibit any new ruling class from behaving just as it so will. The accumulation of such "rules" is an essential trend of modern managerialism, and, just as "bourgeois democracy" was a great gain for the working classes in earlier times, The historical gains of such struggles are worthwhile struggling for whether or not they lead directly to some sort of socialism.

The whole matter of "oppressions" is a source of endless agony for leftists, anarchist or otherwise. Some try to deny their importance entirely. Some try to desperately concoct some sort of ideological fantasy of ultimate interconnection of such things and a equally fantastic vision of a "movement" that is an alliance of all such things. This often runs aground when the group interests of one oppressed sector run counter to that of another. Be around the left long enough and you'll be able to find multiple examples of such, and they all add to the cacophony that passes for theory amongst leftists. Then there is the "ideological parrot" response that tags onto everything that "it will only be solved with the overthrow of the capitalist patriarchal state. I beg to differ. I would say that the "solution" of such problems is a still distant requirement for socialism and not a consequence of some mystical movement to socialism/anarchism. At least in the USA, and to a lesser degree in other countries-depending on how much they are influenced by American leftism- , this is compounded by what can only be described as a love of guilt. I can hardly object to the weird personal psychology of medieval flagellants or some Shiites today of whipping themselves or the example of Opus Dei with their "self-torture undergarments" on anything but aesthetic grounds, but I am absolutely convinced that it ain't politics.

Honest to Lord Jesus (or whatever your choice of poison is) you can indeed object to the actions of a foreign government against minority ethnic groups without going the whole pig and engaging in some fantasy of "solidarity" that covers up the sins and possible sins of the side you have chosen as the "good guys". Can I raise my tiny little voice to say that I have yet to see any examples in my lifetime where opponents were easily divided into good guys and bad guys. Maybe before I was born, but not since the Second World War.


1)History has shown that "national liberation" is a deadly card to play, with the consequences often worse than the previous domination.

2)This doesn't mean that oppression of any sort should not be protested, but rather that the nature of the protests should be to put as many restraints of the exercise of power rather than mindlessly parroting the aspirations of new rulers who inevitably want to come to power using the emotions of "the oppressed"

3)This means that one can protest and try to modify the actions of power holders without acting like you support the other side totally and without ignoring their faults- however unpopular this may be amongst those who often gravitate to such campaigns.

4)There are parallels between "national liberation" and other struggles against "oppression".

5)The struggle against various "oppressions" is not only possible of resolution via some sort of "revolution" but is rather the struggle for the improvement of our present system of class rule ,such that the transition to a socialist/anarchist society is both possible and easier. These "liberations" precede rather than follow the struggle for a fully egalitarian and free society. They are important for the eventual goal as the laying of a good foundation is for building a good house.

Boy, I've been long winded on this one.

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