by Abdulhakim Idris
March 31, 2022
On January 2, 1986, Associated Press (AP) announced that 2,000 Uyghur students had staged a protest against the Beijing government in the East Turkistan capital of Urumqi. According to the information in the news, demonstrations were held not only in Urumqi, but also in Beijing and Shanghai. The main thing that pushed Uyghur students to seek their rights was the nuclear tests conducted by the Chinese communist regime in the Lop Nor region.(1) According to the findings of the Japanese scientist Takada, it is estimated that about 194,000 people died as a result of the impact of nuclear tests.(2)
The Beijing government conducted 45 nuclear weapons tests from 1964 to 1996, 22 underground and 23 above the surface. Enver Tohti, who worked as a doctor in the cancer department in East Turkistan for many years, revealed the effects of these nuclear tests, which many describe as genocide, by identifying the relationship between a type of cancer called ‘lymphomas’ and nuclear tests. Tohti said:
“Lymphomas are a group of cancers in which cells of the lymphatic system become abnormal and begin to grow uncontrollably. Since there is lymph tissue in many parts of the body, lymphomas can begin in almost any organ of the body. I consulted my textbooks to find the commonalities of these cancer types. I’ve found that they can all be started by radiation. I have made a link to the health problems of my patients related to the release of radiation from the [nuclear] tests.”(3)
Looking at the historical background of the Chinese communist regime’s nuclear tests, it is seen that the Beijing government also participated in the Cold War-era show-of-force race. After the Korean War in the mid-1950s, the first steps were taken with the support of the Soviet Union. The design of the first nuclear weapon began at the Institute of Physics and Atomic Energy in Beijing, and the enrichment of uranium began in Lanzhou. However, for a short time, Moscow’s relations with Beijing deteriorated. After tensions between Khrushchev and Mao, the Soviet leader withdrew his support entirely. Khrushchev also canceled the plan to deliver prototypes to China in 1959. Mao, who closed his country’s doors to the world, accelerated his own nuclear research. The first nuclear testing project was called 59-6 based on this date.(4)
The Chinese Communist regime chose the Lop Nor region, an area within the borders of occupied East Turkistan, home to Muslim Uyghurs, for their nuclear tests. Three years after the first nuclear test attempt, on June 17 1967, China conducted its first hydrogen bomb test, again in the Lop Nor area. The actual data on how these tests affect people’s lives in a region where 20 million people live, the majority of whom are Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and other Turkic communities, could not be revealed due to the non-transparent governance of China.(5) The Chinese communist regime has tried to hide all its activities in the region from the world. However, Japanese Academic Jun Takada stated that the tests at Lop Nor had greater negative effects than the damage caused by the Chernobyl accident in the Soviet Union in 1986. In 1996, two months before the Beijing government signed the Agreement on the Prohibition of Nuclear Tests, it announced that it had conducted its last nuclear test on June 29, 1996. (6)
The effects of these nuclear tests conducted in East Turkistan has emerged over time. Almost all tests had an earthquake effect, and they were so common that when people felt a tremor, they would say ’nuclear test, not earthquake’. Dr. Ilham Tohti is one of those who have seen the impact of nuclear tests since childhood. In an interview he describes the radioactive clouds that appeared as a result of the communist Chinese regime’s nuclear tests:
“For three days, it was as if the sky had rained down on the ground. No sun, no moon. When the children asked their teachers, the answer they received was that it was from a storm on the planet Saturn.” (7)
Dr. Anwar Tohti saw the damage of China’s nuclear tests more closely from patients who came to the hospital when he started working as an expert after graduating from medical school. As a result of his examinations on incoming patients, he began to investigate why there were so many cancer patients and similar complaints in the region. That is where his research led him to find the link between lymphoma and radioactive substances. In order to combat this situation, he also became an activist in 1995.(8) According to Tohti’s information, nuclear tests in the Lop Nor region were also carefully monitored by nuclear physicists affiliated with the Soviet Union at that time in the neighboring country of Kazakhstan. This was because the radio-actively charged clouds that appeared after each attempt extended to Almaty in Kazakhstan.
On the other hand, considering the proximity of the Soviet Union’s nuclear test area in Kazakhstan to East Turkistan, it is obvious that the Kazakh people in that region in particular suffered twice as much both from China’s tests and from the Soviets’ tests.(9) Tohti conducted research on the effect of cancers caused by radioactive damage in East Turkistan in July 1998 for 6 weeks and brought together many documents. Only between 1990 and 2000, cases of cancer in the region doubled.(10) Further data showing the danger of the situation in East Turkistan, the homeland of the Uyghurs, relates to cancer treatment centers. In the Henan region, where 100 million people live, there was only a capacity of 500 beds for cancer in 1997, while this figure increased to 800 in 2008. However, the bed capacity reserved for cancer patients in East Turkistan, where 20 million people live, was 2000 in 2008. (11)
According to the findings of British journalist Andrew Buncombe, the rate of cancer and similar diseases of radioactive origin in East Turkistan, where nuclear tests are carried out, is 39 percent higher than in other parts of China. According to the reports of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the most secret experiments in this area were conducted by China. Examining the impact of tests in the region with the CND and speaking to many victims, Dr. Laura Watson said, “It is clear that radiation is the most obvious cause of cancer and similar diseases. At the same time, there is a huge increase in the frequency of the appearance of ordinary diseases. It not only leads to diseases such as in the liver or lungs, but it can also cause leukemia.” Research also discovered that there are children with severe birth deformities and terrible diseases. Cases of inability to walk due to a degenerative disease seen in an 18-year-old teenager whose past is included in the report are very common. Some children have also been exposed to diseases such as instability of bones and muscle loss. (12)
Japanese Scientist Takada, who published the book on China’s Nuclear Tests, determined that the bombs detonated in Lop Nor, some of which were 3 megatons, produced an effect 200-times stronger than the one dropped on Hiroshima. Takada, who started to examine the nuclear tests of the USA, France and the Soviet Union in the 1990s, was invited by scientists from Kazakhstan to conduct investigations in the region close to the East Turkistan border. Takada, who was not allowed to cross the border due to the dictatorial system of the communist regime, conducted his studies in Kazakhstan. He applied models he used to measure the effect of nuclear tests in the Soviet era to East Turkistan, and calculated that an estimated 194,000 people would have died due to acute radiation exposure. The number of people who received radiation high enough to cause leukemia, solid cancers or fetal damage was calculated to be around 1.2 million. Takada’s determination that ‘My figures are based on minimum estimates’ should also be noted. (13)
Timothy Mousseau, Associate Director of the Chernobyl Research Initiative at the University of South Carolina, noted that the impact of China’s nuclear tests will continue to be seen over time, so it is not possible to reach a full conclusion. “Nevertheless, it should be noted that it seems that there are serious genetic damages in people living in these regions,” Mousseau concluded.(14) Another proof of the Beijing government’s nuclear genocide of Muslim Uyghurs is that the communist regime ignores the people of East Turkestan, while paying compensation only to Chinese soldiers serving there. Dr. Tohti pointed out that it is very difficult for Uyghurs to access health facilities, saying, “They cannot afford healthcare costs. The only thing they can do is wait to die.” (15)
The work of the Chinese communist regime on alternative energy sources such as nuclear energy, which is a most important need, is also being carried out from East Turkistan. Today, one third of the uranium used by China for nuclear energy is taken from the Yili region in the homeland of the Uyghurs. The Communist regime has turned East Turkistan into a center for nuclear energy. Despite such a large-scale nuclear industry, no steps have been taken to protect the health of Uyghurs. (16) The Beijing government, which has been conducting uranium enrichment studies more effectively since 2008, currently has a total of 62 nuclear reactors, 44 of which are active and 18 of which are under construction. It aims to obtain 20% of its energy from nuclear sources in 2030.
Although concerns about nuclear energy are beginning to arise among the Chinese people, the Beijing government is silencing them with an iron fist. (17) In recent years, there have also been signs in the international community that China is breaking its promises under global arms control. The US State Department’s report for 2020 expresses concerns that China has started nuclear tests again in the Lop Nor region.(18) According to Rod Lyon, an expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), China increased its activities at the Lop Nor nuclear site throughout 2019. China carried out activities such as building new test sites and explosives storage rooms. In doing all this, it also occasionally closed the data channels that should be open under the International Monitoring System (IMS). These steps, which lack transparency, are being followed with concern by other countries. (19)