Abdurehim Gheni

31 years ago today, on April 5, 1990, a revolution broke out in the village of Barin in Chinese occupied East Turkestan. The revolution sent a strong message to the Chinese colonizers the unwavering will of the people in East Turkestan, their sole pursuit of independence and their unyielding desire for freedom. This was a revolution with great significance in East Turkestan’s recent history and it declared to the world: we are still alive and we want our independence.

On April 5, 1990, in a small village called Barin in Aktu county, around 200 people held demonstration against government policies on family plan, religious suppression, mass migration of Han Chinese to East Turkestan and heavy imposition of taxes.

31 years ago, the peaceful protest of the ordinary citizens of the Barin village was met with bloody crackdown by the local government. More than 50 people were shot dead on the spot, the rest were arrested, most of whom were tortured to death in prisons. Infuriated by the government’s handling of the protest and the bloody crackdown, over 2000 people retaliated by attacking police stations and occupying government buildings. The protesters seized guns and captured 5 soldiers, at the same time, some protesters were also arrested by the Chinese military. Eventually, the villagers and the Chinese government officials exchanged the hostages.

The revolution, led by Zaidin Yusuf, did indeed panic the evil Chinese communist party including its then leaders Deng Xiao Ping, Jiang Ze Min and Li Peng. To prevent the uprising from further spreading to other areas in East Turkestan, the Chinese government sent their army equipped with tanks and war planes to Barin village to carry out the massacre of the entire civilian population in the village. The revolution lasted 7 days starting April 5, 1990, tragically, the Chinese soldiers brutally massacred almost all unarmed civilians in the Barin village.

A Chinese soldier who participated in the blood purge and years later fled to the United States came forward and exposed the brutal massacre. According to his account, almost all civilians, regardless if they were participants or not in the revolution, men, women and children, they were all slaughtered.

International communities condemned the bloody massacre. Amnesty International filed an exclusive 92-page report to urge Chinese government to admit the violation of human rights, to immediately halt all largescale oppression followed the revolution and all forms of human rights abuses in East Turkestan.

The Barin revolution demonstrated the indomitable courage and extraordinary will power of Uyghurs. It is the declaration of the people that they would not succumb to slavery and East Turkestan doesn’t belong to China. It is one of the significant uprisings in recent history that shows people’s unflappable determination for independence.

The people of East Turkestan remember this incredible resilience of Barin people who demonstrated the national spirit, people remember and honor the fallen heroes, especially the leader of the revolution, Zaidin Yusuf, who sacrificed his life for the cause of our freedom. Today we honor and feel proud of Zaidin Yusuf and those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom. We will never forget the glorious history that demonstrated the resilience of Uyghur people. We believe we are born free and we will someday live free as all other free nations in our independent East Turkestan. Our fight will not stop until the day we regain our independence of East Turkestan.

Source: Barin uprising, 15 years