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To fully understand what is happening between the Chinese government and the Uyghurs, we must take a step back in time by rediscovering the Dzungarian people. The last Mongols were exterminated all by the emperor Qianlong who annexed the region and transformed it into modern Xinjiang.
From the ashes of Genghis Khan
The Dzungarian Khanate has very complex origins and must be linked to a very particular historical moment, namely the collapse of the Empire of Genghis Khan. With the Toluid civil war (1260-1264), in fact, the Mongols began to divide into very separate entities, most of which continually in revolt. It will be with this particular political tension that a new Mongolian entity will be born, different from that of the Great Khan and destined to be the last noteworthy potentate: the Confederation of the 4 Oirats.
The different tribes that lived between the current Tuva and Dzungaria decided to form their own autonomous alliance that could free themselves from the conflicts already underway, going to form a new political entity which, starting from 1620, would declare itself Buddhist, laying the foundations for the future state.
The Khanate of Dzungaria
In 1678 Choros Erdeniin Galdan will rise to power, a strong and resolute man who will succeed in obtaining the appointment to Boshogtu Khan from the Dalai Lama, proclaiming himself as defender of Buddhism and further expanding the influence of Zungaria and its clan, so much so that the same khanate will identify with this region. In that same year, moreover, Galdan will conquer part of Mongolia and the Khanate of Yarkent, a country with a Muslim majority and homeland of the modern Uyghurs, becoming an increasingly concrete threat to China.
At the time (and until the arrival of Mao) the country was ruled by the Qing dynasty, which, as a vassal of the Ming, managed to reorganize the state in a short time, aiming decisively against its “non-Chinese” neighbors. Starting from 1696, the Dzungarian people will begin a very strong confrontation with the government of Beijing, thus starting a path that will end only in 1755 with the genocide of the first ones.
The Dzungarian genocide
In that year the Qianlong government took advantage of the political chaos that reigned in the region to impose its hegemony and imposed, as Khan of the Dzungarian people, Amursana. The latter, however, rebelled against the Chinese authority by organizing several riots that will only worsen the difficult situation in the area. From that moment, in fact, Qianlong will no longer aim at a submission, but at a real ethnic substitution, which was also successful with the help of the Uyghurs who, under the Dzungarian people, were treated like beasts.
The emperor ordered that no healthy man be spared and that only the elderly and women be preserved in order to give them as gifts to those who had distinguished themselves in the massacre. Any type of atrocity was tolerated and the slaughter went on for 3 years, destroying about 80% of the population and erasing the Dzungarian name for centuries from any history book. With their extermination the Dzungaria and the Tarim basin, going to transform definitively the region which, from that moment on, will be called Xinjiang or “New frontier”. From then on, these places will become increasingly linked to the Uyghurs and their struggle for autonomy from the Chinese government.
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