A story about East Turkistan Republic -August 27, 1949

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A story about East Turkistan Republic -August 27, 1949

A story about East Turkistan Republic

OYGHAN! [Wake Up!] (1)1


August 27, 1949 (2)3

In the beautiful woodlands southwest of Moscow, in the exclusive Dacha country of generals and government ministers, four German POWs toiled in the midday heat. Along with hundreds of other POWs, those four emaciated, disheveled, gaunt men had been working as slave labor in this district for four years, mostly building dachas and roads for the ‘Nomenklatura’.4

Here in a quiet clearing near the private dacha of Colonel-General Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov, Minister for State Security (3), a pit was being dug, a mere rifle shot away from the spot where the Nazi invaders had been halted. The GAZ truck that brought the POWs to this spot had driven away. Two MGB thugs, armed with submachine guns, guarded them as they dug the three meter by three meter pit. They knew it was to be a grave. 5

“Don’t worry, comrades,” one of the guards mocked, “we have ‘guests’ arriving soon to occupy this spacious dacha you have prepared. They will appreciate your labors.” The POWs were wise enough not to respond. “Deeper! Dig deeper,” the older of the two guards commanded. The POWs had passed the two meter mark, and continued to sling dirt out of the pit. The two guards passed a look of mirth. Finally, “Enough,” shouted one guard as the pit reached three meters in depth. “Toss out your shovels, handles first.”6

The four shovels arched out of the hole and clattered on the loose dirt. One ex-soldier reached up, expecting a hand out of the pit. He received a burst of gun-fire instead, as the guards sprayed the hole. The bullets caught one soldier in the act of crossing himself, and uttering the first words of the Hail Mary. But the guards had not been meticulous, satisfied that the wounded POWs would never climb out. They were entertained by the moans of the dying enemy.7

The guards waited, smoked and talked. A covered GAZ truck pulled into the clearing, followed by a pre-war Ford sedan, and a chauffeured limousine. The truck backed up to the edge of the pit. The two guards dropped the tailgate. A Ministry of State Security major and two MGB agents exited the sedan and waited for the occupant of the limousine. Minister Abakumov climbed out of the plush back seat and walked up to view the pit. The major ordered the two guards, the most lowly of MGB operatives, to empty the contents of the truck into the pit. 8

Five canvas sacks, bulky and soaked in blood, were manhandled haphazardly into the pit, while Abakumov and his attending major looked on, smiling. “Stalin will be pleased,” the minister observed. When the unloading was done the GAZ truck drove off. The major ordered his two agents to help the two guards refill the pit. Once the ranking officers had driven off in the limousine, the four henchmen grumbled their way through the laborious task. When the pit was filled one guard relieved himself on the fresh dirt, re-buttoned his fly, and joined the other three in the ageing Ford for the drive back to Moscow. Finishing their shift, they rode the underground back to their cramped apartments, families and evening meals.9

In a darkroom at Dzerzhinsky Square (4), an MGB agent fabricated a composite photo, purporting to be the scene of an air accident involving an ANT-35 near Lake Baikal. In an adjacent office a disinformation officer typed up a news release. A few days later the doctored photo appeared buried deep in an issue of PRAVDA (5), along with a brief announcement of the death of the leaders of the government of the East Turkestan Republic (6).10

In September rains came and soaked the forest soil. In November snow covered the mound. In a few years the mound sagged, and leaves, pine needles and weeds obscured the place. While the remainder of the delegation languished in Stalin’s infamous Gulag, the five bagged bodies were forgotten. At least by the MGB and Stalin. 11


September 3, 1949: Stressed and anxious officials of the four-year-old quasi-independent East Turkestan Republic were arguing in an office in their capital of Ghulja City (7). The room was filled with the acrid mixture of tobacco smoke and fear. In the late afternoon an aide entered with a telegram (8) from Moscow. It read….13

To our fraternal comrades in the office of the President of the East Turkestan Republic: 14

Marshal Stalin and the Government of the Soviet Union have the sad duty of informing the government of the East Turkestan Republic that the plane carrying its delegation to the All-China Conference in Beijing has been discovered crashed in the mountains east of Lake Baikal. There were no survivors. The aircraft having burned on impact, the remains of the passengers and crew were interred at the site. Marshal Stalin extends his deepest condolences. 15

Signed, Molotov 16

The shocked men in the room, all subservient to the Soviet Union, were stunned. Yet none dared speak the obvious. Hampered by the Kuomintang, threatened by the Chinese Communists, undermined by the Soviet Union, and now bereft of their President and senior ministers (9), the surviving leadership of the ETR faced a bleak and catastrophic crisis10. 17

* * * * * * 18

The motor trek from the East Turkestan Republic’s capital at Ghulja City to Alma-Ata (11) in the Kazakh SSR was arduous, even with a Red Army escort. The eleven member delegation, headed by ETR President Ehmetjan Qasimi, were exhausted when they arrived at their shabby Russian hotel. MGB guards were stationed outside their rooms for the night. In the morning they were scheduled to fly to Beijing to attend, at Mao Zedong’s personal invitation, the All-China Conference, which was meeting to establish the People’s Republic of China.19

A pounding came on the doors. "Oyghan! Oyghan! [wake up] and insistent, demanding Turkic-speaking voice cried out. “It’s time to get ready to leave,” he ordered in Russian. Escorted to the drab dinning room, the delegation ate a rushed breakfast of black bread, cheese and honey-sweetened tea.20

A rickety bus arrived and the delegates, their meager luggage, and their MGB ‘chaperones’, clambered aboard for the eighteen kilometer trip through the city and out to the Alma-Ata airfield. 21

The airfield, constructed in 1935, with its’ nondescript civil aviation facilities and a flying club, sat across from a variety of governmental hangers and minor buildings. The bus headed for these, where an un-liveried ANT-35 sat, door open and steps in place. A squad of men in civilian clothes stood near the plane, MGB agents all. When the bus came to a halt they formed a cordon to the steps of the twin-engined aircraft, though not meant as a guard of honor.22

The Tupolev ANT-35, adapted from a bomber design and entering service in 1937, was normally configured for ten passengers seated in relative comfort. However, this particular aircraft had been modified to carry fourteen passengers in two facing rows of canvas jump-seats, knees almost touching. This plane had seen much wear and tear, as civil transport, VIP aircraft, and now in MGB liaison service. An MGB major and two armed agents boarded with the delegation. The delegates were not unduly worried, yet.23

The two tired, and not entirely well maintained, M-85 radial engines coughed reluctantly into life, greasy exhaust billowing back over the wings. The plane, with its priority passengers, soon taxied out to the end of the runway, passing a half-flight of YAK-9’s in revetments as it trundled its tail-dragging way across the uneven tarmac. Engines roaring, the ageing plane clawed its way into the crisp morning air. Circling to gain altitude the Tupolev eventually swung north-west. 24

The delegates were nonplused! Northwest! Away from Beijing! Northwest – towards Moscow! President Qasimi leaned towards the MGN major, and shouted over the roar of the engines, “Why are we not headed to Beijing?” he demanded. 25

The major gave a benign smile, that did not include his eyes, and simply said, “Marshal Stalin felt it would be better if you all came to Moscow for talks before you went on to Beijing for the crucial All-China Conference. I understand that Chairman Mao Zedong is in agreement with the Marshal’s wishes.” 26

A cold frisson travelled down Qasimi’s spine. Pressured, lied to, and now diverted. No, abducted! The majority of the ETR government leaders were now ‘guests’ of the Soviet government. More precisely, of the MGB, Beria’s henchmen, the malevolent masters of Lubyanka Prison on Dzerzhinsky Square.27

Every four hours or so the Tupolev landed at some regional airfield along the route for refueling. The delegates were kept on board. At one field there was a crew change. At another, the MGB major and guards got off for a meal and a long rest, while temporary guards came on board. The delegates were not fed. Complaints were roughly and discourteously stonewalled. Their one luxury was the on-board toilet; which quickly became noxious. The next morning the flight resumed. The three thousand kilometer flight was beyond tedious. The eleven prisoners were deeply discouraged, depressed and disoriented; as they were meant to be. 28

Landing at Moscow Central Airport in the Khodynka district, the aircraft taxied to the far side of the small airfield and pulled up in front of a tired-looking wooden building. An enclosed truck and two sedans sat waiting, along with four armed MGB operatives. Hustled into the back of the truck, the tired and disheveled group was joined by the armed local agents. 29

The seven kilometer journey south-east into the centre of Moscow was made in enforced silence. City sounds penetrated the trucks walls, unseen potholes jolted the men, and Moscow’s city smells wafted in through cracks. The last time the thirty-five year old Qasimi had been in Moscow, in 1936, he had been studying political science and revolutionary tactics at Far East University. Then he had been a rising star, groomed for revolutionary leadership. Now, he knew he was about to become a victim of the very system he supported.30

The truck, with its fore and aft sedan escorts, pulled into the basement of Lubyanka prison. Additional armed MGB agents joined the escort, ripped away their meager luggage, and herded the delegates roughly up the stairs. The eleven protesting individuals were pushed into separate cells, and the steel doors locked. Each cell was windowless, barren, and held a single light bulb set into a wire cage in the ceiling, out of reach, and endlessly glowing. Qasimi sat in a corner and attempted to rest. Ne dozed off.31

Immediately, the cell door banged open and two guards rushed in, and proceeded to beat him awake with rubber truncheons. Warning him to stay awake, they left. The cell door clanged shut and the bolt was rammed home. This scene was repeated in every cell as often as the individual prisoners dozed off. And still the light bulbs blazed on.32

No water, no food, no sleep. Beaten. Yelled at. Loss of day, date and time, disoriented, famished and weakened, finally the prisoners were ready. Ready for the interrogators, the sadists who prospered in the psychopathic paranoia of Marshal Stalin’s self-devouring utopia. Starting with Qasimi, and working downwards in political rank, the delegates were hauled upstairs to the interrogation rooms. Muffled rooms, lights, tables, chairs, bloodstains on carpets, smelling of fear, and pain, inhabited by thugs with practiced skills. 33

Truth is never the purpose of torture. Compliance to authority is. Surrender to terror is. Annihilation of personality is. Questions, endless questions. Accusations, false and meaningless. Threats, real and pointed.34

“Why have you conspired against the Soviet Union?” 35

The back of a hand.36

“You are a spy for the Kuomintang gangster Chang Kai-shek!”37

A rubber truncheon behind the ear.38

“Why did you betray the people’s revolution?”39

The chair kicked over, skull cracking on the floor. Uprighted roughly.40

“You are being paid by the Americans.…by the British.…” 41

Screaming in the ears. More beating with the rubber truncheon. Teeth broken, lips bleeding, ears bleeding, nose broken and bleeding, face bruised and swollen.42

Back to the cell with its endless light. No rest. More beatings. Back to the interrogation rooms. The cycle repeats itself.43

Qasimi is dropped into the chair by his two guards. A different face sits behind the mahogany desk with its beige felt top. A soft-faced man in a full Colonel-General’s uniform, his chest carrying political medals earned by his brutal subservience to Stalin’s deadly paranoia.44

“Comrade Qasimi,” the head of MGB began quietly, “you were instructed in July, by Bakulin and Karpov, to make peace with the Communist Party of China. Marshal Stalin and Chairman Mao Zedong both communicated their wishes to you clearly. You and your ETR leadership failed to heed those warnings.”45

He rose and came around to the front of the table, facing Qasimi. He motioned to one of the MGB thugs, and was handed a rubber truncheon. 46

“You disobeyed!” and the truncheon swung right to left, and then back again across Qasimi’s head. 47

“We have no time for petty upstarts who defy the Party” and the weapon swung pendulum again. Fresh blood flew in sticky tendrils across the room.48

“Marshal Stalin is not pleased!” A swing to the throat.49

“There will be no Uyghur republic! No cesspool of Islamic dissent!” pendulum, pendulum, pendulum, until Qasimi passed out.50

Abakumov smiled his soul freezing smile, and struck the insensate Qasimi one final time. “Take him to the others,” he ordered. …. In their cells, six lesser delegates were allowed to enjoy the small comfort that came from their labored, pain-racked breathing. Eventually they were loaded into a truck, and driven away, to disappear into the Gulag…. Dragged between two guards, the barely revived and totally disenfranchised president of the ETR was thrown into a room with four of his senior government ministers.51

A strange and unwholesome room. Tiled. Floors, walls, ceiling, all tiled. The floor sloped towards the back of the room where a metal grate covered a drain. At chest height on the back wall the tiles were all chipped and cracked. There was a tap and fire hose by the entrance. A floodlight above the door shone on the far wall. The five beaten and subdued men stood huddled together in silence, anticipating.52

Four MGB thugs entered the room, armed with sub-machine guns, and immediately began firing. When they’d emptied their drums they left. Smoke from the gunpowder mixed with the copper scent of fresh blood. The room was quiet again. 53

An MGB officer entered, holding a clipboard with dossiers attached. He checked off the bodies against the photographs in each. Satisfied that Stalin’s orders had been correctly carried out he signed each folder, and left.54

After an hour, to allow the corpses to drain, a team of MGB minions dressed in grey coveralls entered the room pushing a large wheeled bin. Taking canvas bags from the bin they stuffed the bodies in the bags and heaved them into the bin. While one man pushed the bin out, the other took the fire hose and washed down the room. A cargo elevator carried the bin to a loading dock in the basement. The body bags were hurled into a waiting truck. When loaded, a truck, a sedan, and the minister’s limousine drove away.55

In a Moscow forest four men have dug a pit, three meters, by three meters, by three meters.56



“Uighurs are a mainly Muslim ethnic minority who are concentrated primarily in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Since the 1980s, the Uighurs have been the target of systematic and extensive human rights violations. This includes arbitrary detention and imprisonment, incommunicado detention, and serious restrictions on religious freedom as well as cultural and social rights. Uighur political prisoners have been executed after unfair trials. In recent years, China has exploited the international "war on terror" to suppress the Uighurs, labeling them "terrorists", "separatists", or "religious extremists".” The USA has supported China in its classification of all Uyghur separatists as ‘terrorists’. (12)59



(1) The Title: OYGHAN! Is the title of the Uyghur separatist poem by Abduxaliq Uyghur, written in Turpan, in 1921. The poet was later executed for his support of Uyghur independence.62

OYGHAN! [Wake up!]63

Hey, poor Uyghur, wake up, you have slept long enough,64

You have nothing, what is now at stake is your very life.65

If you don’t rescue yourself from this death,66

Ah, your end will be looming, your end will be looming.67

Stand up! I said, raise up your head, no more slumber, 68

Behead your enemy, spill his blood!69

If you don’t open your eyes and look around,70

The end of your frustrated existence is certain.71

Already, your body looks lifeless,72

Is that why you are indifferent to death?73

You remain unmoved by my calls,74

Do you want to perish this way, without coming to your senses? 75

Open your eyes wide, look around,76

Think well about your future,77

If you let this one chance escape,78

Tomorrow will be nothing but sorrow, nothing but sorrow.79

My heart pities you, o my Uyghur,80

My companion, my brother, my relative,81

With a burning soul, I am calling out to you,82

But your are not hearing me, what is going on?83

One day will come, and you will regret,84

That day you will understand the reason of my calls.85

You will say “alas!”, but it will be too late,86

Then you will realize what Uyghur (the poet) meant.87

{Original English translator: Unknown
© Retranslated by: Rahman & Waris A. Janbaz
Paris, August 21, 2004} 88

(2) Moscow, 1991. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, former senior KGB officers revealed the executions of the five senior members of the ETR delegation, and the imprisonment of the other six. This section of the story is fictional.89

(3) Colonel-General Viktor Semyonovich Abakumov, Minister for State Security, 1946-1951. Brutal head of the predecessor organization to the KGB. 90

(4) Dzerzhinsky Square. Site of Russian State Security [secret police] offices and the former Lubyanka Prison.91

(5) PRAVDA [Truth]. Soviet era newspaper.92

(6) [Second] East Turkestan Republic. (November 12, 1944- October 20, 1949) Breakaway quasi-independent region ( Ili, Tarbaghatai, and Altai districts ) of Xingjian province of the Republic of China. The one-party government was Leninist and secular. [The First Eastern Turkestan Republic (ETR), or Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan (TIRET), 1933-1934, was a short-lived break-away Islamic constitutional republic. Stalin, fearing the spread of Islamic separatism in Soviet provinces, supported a Xingjian provincial counter-insurgency that crushed the republic]93

(7) Ghulja City. Ghulja City renamed City of Yining, in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. 94

(8) Telegram is fictional.95

(9) ETR President Ehmetjan Qasimi, government ministers Abdulkerim Abbas, Ishaq Beg Munonov, Dalelkhan Sugirbayev, Rakhimjan Sabirhajiev, and Luo Zhi, along with five other ETR representatives, were murdered on August 27, 1949, by the MGB on Stalin’s personal orders, in accordance with a previous agreement between Mao Zedong and Stalin.96

(10) October 1, 1949, In Beijing, Chairman Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China. October 20, 1949; stripped of their more experienced leaders, the remaining important figures in the ETR agreed to incorporate the three districts into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and accept important positions within the administration. The ETR ceased to exist. Under Kazakh leadership, elements of the ETR militia continued fighting the Chinese until 1954.97

(11) The remainder of the story is fully fictionalized. In historical fact, the delegation did leave from the Alma-Ata airfield, and were forced to travel to Moscow, where they were tortured, and five murdered, the remainder disappearing into the “Gulag”. [Gulag: Glavnoye Upravleniye Lagere; the “Chief Administration of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies”; e.g. Russian prison system, contains both political and criminal prisoners.]98

(12) Quote from the Amnesty International website, 1 February 2007.99


Eskertish: Bu hikaye Awistiraliyelik bir gherp yazghuchisi teripidin In'giliz tilida yezilghan tarixi hikaye bolup, hikayide, Sherqiy Turkistan Jumhiriyitining aldi-keynidiki ishlar we Jumhuriyet rehberliridin Exmetjan Qasimi qatarliq ejdadlirimizning Ruslar teripidin Almutagha we Moskiwagha aldap, tutqun qilinip elip ketilgenliki, u yerdiki sual-soraq, qiyin-qistaqlar, oydurup chiqirilghan saxta ayrupilan weqesi qatarliq tarixi pakitlar edibiy tilda hikayileshturulgen.

Eerning esli menbesi: http://storywrite.com/story/274096