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Superman comic book fans will fondly recall the topsy-turvy Bizarro world, a planet shaped like a cube where everything happened backwards and nothing made any sense. Welcome now to the Bush world, where the revered Dalai Lama of Tibet may now be branded by the United States as a “fellow traveler” of terrorists or, worse yet, an “enemy combatant.”
On August 27, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, a shadowy ex-Special Forces officer who has been linked to everything from heroin smuggling in Burma’s Golden Triangle to smuggling weapons to the Iranian regime of Ayatollah Khomeini, met with senior Chinese officials in Beijing. According to Reuters, Armitage, representing the world’s second largest totalitarian regime, told the leadership of the world’s largest one that the State Department had added a new group to its list of foreign terrorist organizations: the movement seeking independence for western China’s Sinkiang region, an area that Chinese Uighur (pronounced “wee-ger”) Muslims regard as East Turkestan or Uighurstan.
The only problem with this designation, obviously designed to please the Chinese regime prior to the upcoming October summit in Washington between Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao and President Bush, is that the new “terrorist group” is a member of the same non-government organization as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government-in-exile, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), officially recognized by the United Nations as an international human rights organization. UNPO has its headquarters on Eisenhowerlaan (named for a notorious fifties “pinko” U.S. President) in The Hague and regional headquarters in Washington, DC and Tartu, Estonia. In fact, Erkin Alptekin, East Turkestan’s exiled leader serves as Secretary General of UNPO, and thus, represents the Dalai Lama and other ethnic and tribal leaders of 52 members of the organization. The Director General of UNPO, hardly a terrorist, is Karl von Habsburg of the former Austro-Hungarian royal family. Last September 12, Alptekin, America’s newest “terrorist,” stated in a letter to President Bush, “UNPO is greatly shocked and saddened by the immense destruction, injury, and loss of life which have occurred in New York, Washington DC and elsewhere in the United States, as a result of deadly acts of terrorism.” But now Alptekin’s movement has been tossed into the same category as Al Qaeda and Hamas and its Tibetan and Chechen allies now risk similar treatment at the hands of a U.S. administration that could be legitimately ruled by any psychiatrist as clinically insane.
East Turkestan is represented internationally by a number of organizations, now being linked by Armitage to terrorism. They include the Eastern Turkestan National Congress, based in Munich, Germany, and affiliated groups in Istanbul, Turkey; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and New York. With Armitage’s announcement, all these Uighur groups face sanctions and deportation.
Under the terms of the USA Patriot Act and other U.S. criminal statutes, the State Department’s arbitrary designation of a group as a “foreign terrorist organization” has severe ramifications. People who contribute to such organizations and financial institutions who handle transactions for such organizations can face criminal prosecution. Anyone who contributes money, lodging, expert assistance, transportation or other “material support” to such organizations can face long prison terms and seizure of their assets. Resident aliens in the United States can be deported, or worse, be declared enemy combatants and wind up on a one-way flight to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In fact, this writer once contributed money to UNPO.
Last October, UNPO foresaw moves against it like the one announced by Armitage in Beijing. It stated in a press release: “UNPO is committed towards promoting the legitimate aspirations of its Members through non-violent programs and solutions. However, we strongly believe that renewed restrictive and repressive measures, including the use of force against people striving to preserve their distinct identity and protect their right to self-determination, will, and have served no other purpose than endangering fundamental freedoms, destabilizing society, and perpetuating violence . . . UNPO furthermore strongly condemns any such action being deliberately disguised under the pretext of the need for legitimate measures against terrorist groups. There are many notable examples where these same governments in the past, unequivocally supported so- called freedom fighters striving for self-determination, while they are now practicing double standards against Chechens, Uighurs, Tibetans, and other UNPO Members seeking the same freedoms.”
As has already been seen with the illegal detentions of foreigners and U.S. citizens by the Ashcroft Justice Department and the seizure of files and assets from various organizations and associations, it does not take much for the feds to train their sights on any organization over which they get gas pains and nervous tics, regardless of any hard evidence. In Bush’s binary Bizarro world of “If you’re not with me, you’re against me,” just the mere appearance of disloyalty or opposition to the grand scheme of his administration’s corporate puppet masters will earn someone or some group a penetrating spotlight by dozens of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
UNPO’s web site states: “UNPO offers an international forum for occupied nations, indigenous peoples, minorities, and even oppressed majorities who currently struggle to regain their lost countries, preserve their cultural identities, protect their basic human and economic rights and safeguard the natural environment.”
Considering the fact that Bush boycotted the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, it appears that the “protection of basic human and economic rights” and safeguarding “the natural environment” is what has put a bee in the bonnet of people like Armitage and other corporate shills in the administration. Before his job at State, Armitage headed the Chamber of Commerce. His raison d’etre was and remains – oil, the mainstay of Azerbaijan’s economy. Many of UNPO’s members are at the front lines of fighting exploitative multinational companies over land and water rights. And this is what places them in danger of being branded “terrorists.” Just a brief overview of UNPO membership illustrates the battle lines: Muslims in Aceh province in northwest Sumatra are battling Indonesian army forces fronting for Exxon Mobil, which has extensive installations in the province. The United States is considering resuming military aid to Indonesia to put down that rebellion and another involving UNPO member West Papua, an illegally annexed province fighting Indonesia and the U.S. mining company Freeport McMoran for control of its copper and other natural resources. UNPO member Cabinda, an Angolan enclave fighting for independence against Angola, is now being attacked by U.S. mercenaries in the pay of oil companies like Chevron, on whose board Condoleezza Rice once sat.
Even native Americans are no longer safe from renewed Federal subjugation. One of the members of UNPO is the Sioux Lakota Nation, the scene of past bloody battles between encroaching Federal troops and FBI agent and the Sioux. With a mere stroke of a pen, the State Department can label the Lakota Sioux or native Hawaiians as linked to “terrorists” in East Turkestan, Chechnya, or Burma (Myanmar) – and they can have their assets frozen and their leadership tossed into jails or large capacity “detention centers” now being advanced by two Bush appointees on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Bush’s war against minorities and downtrodden people everywhere is a true act of evil. He has become what he blathers on and on about when referring to al Qaeda and Sadaam Hussein . It can only be hoped that Secretary of State Colin Powell will rein in his underlings and caution them against future excesses. If he is unable or unwilling to do so, he owes it to his nation and its Constitution to resign from his office.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and columnist. He wrote the introduction to Forbidden Truth.
Madsen can be reached at: WMadsen777@aol.com