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Posts Tagged ‘Petition’

On August 1st, Ana Escobedo, the magnificent high schooler from california that has been spearheading the SAVE Kashgar Facebook initiative and petition (Petition and Cause Page both linked on the RIGHT —–>) published an article on SAFECORNER about how she got involved in the Kashgar initiative, and what protecting worthwhile cultural heritage sites means to her. Check out her well-written article HERE.

I have selected and reproduced here a few choice excerpts from her essay in order to tantalize your reader tastebuds:

To raise awareness for the cause and to rally supporters behind SAFE’s message I created a Facebook Cause page which I named “Save Kashgar ”. I loaded it with whatever information I had available to me at the time, which was only a few articles and the information I had gained from the SAFECORNER editorial. Later I was able to set up a Flickr group to create a photo documentation of the Old City. I also set up a petition appealing to the Chinese Cultural Minister to save what remained of the cultural heritage of this city. However, it quickly became apparent to me that this was so much more than a demolition of a city. It was the destruction of the Uyghur culture. A culture that had existed for hundreds of years in this location was being wiped out.

In an effort to find recruits to my newly formed cause page I reached out to the Uyghur and Archaeology related groups on Facebook. It was at this moment when I discovered I was not alone in this fight. I went to every group I could think of to let them know about what I was doing, but everywhere I went I found links to other Kashgar related Facebook pages. Groups such as “Save Kashgar, Xinjiang, China from Demolition!” and “Saving Kashgar” encouraged followers to raise their voices against the destruction. The creator of “Save Kashgar, Xinjiang, China from Demolition!,” Nikhat Rasheed, is responsible for aYouTube video further demonstrating the importance of Kashgar to the Uyghurs and the world. Her group has also sponsored an event in Toronto, Canada to show solidarity with the Uyghur people. On July 1, 2009, a group of Uyghurs performed a traditional dance in celebration of Canada Day. Members of this Facebook group attended, furthering the public display of unity with the Uyghur cause. Ms. Rasheed has also written a wildly popular petition that has raised almost 7,000 signatures in a short period of time. Another Facebook Cause page “Save Kashgar!,” created by dedicated advocate Miriam J. Woods, has generated a petition that has already received over 1,000 signatures. This petition asks President Obama and Congress to appeal to the Chinese government to cease the demolition. Her cause page is raising money for the Uyghur American Association/Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Before I saw the issue from my point of view as an archaeologist, but after these varied and passionate communications I saw that this was a human crisis. What has amazed me most over these past two months has been the number of people reaching out to me, telling me their story, letting me know that Kashgar was important to them too.

People like Marc Forster, the filmmaker responsible for films such as “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and “Quantum of Solace” are rallying behind the cause.

Kashgar has evoked an impassioned and ever-growing response, in me and many others. More and more people from around the world are reaching out and speaking out against this demolition and the destruction of a culture.

As for me, my heart goes out the Uyghurs who are losing the heart of their civilization. I will continue to support in the best way I can. My cause page is closing in on 700 members and it is my hope that I can continue to reach these people and keep them united in this work against this cultural and human crime.

Thanks Ana, for sharing with us not only your experience working on this important project, but also helping to organize and unite all the different interest groups so that we may have a common goal.

– Chiarch

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Just got wind of yet another set of initiatives aimed at garnering attention and awareness of the ongoing demolition of Old Kashgar that has been in the news lately (if you’ve been paying attention to the side headlines in your national newspaper).

HERE is yet another “SAVE KASHGAR” Facebook group that posts some interesting events coming up. It was started by a student at the University of Toronto and already has over 150 members.

HERE is another petition on petitiononline.com that aims to petition the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to consider making Kashgar a World Heritage Site. Sounds a lot like what the people over at SAFE are trying to do as well, draw attention to the fact that Kashgar not only deserves to be, but frankly should have been made a World Heritage Site sooner, and NOT after its demolition begins.

Anyways, the petition will herein be permenantly linked on the RIGHT (under “Petitions”). It has over 6000 signatories already, let’s make it 7000!

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Ana Escobedo, the creator of the Save Kashgar Facebook cause page (link on the right) as well as the Save Kashgar online petition (link also at the right), has offered this statement as to why she feels so strongly about trying to raise awareness about the destruction of intangible cultural heritage:

“The destruction of Kashgar is more than just the demolition of a city; it is a conscious obliteration of a rich history and a living memory, both of which could disappear unless we become more aware of our loss.

By razing these buildings the world has lost incredible amounts of knowledge that could have been gleaned from these sites. Most importantly, the Uighur culture is being destroyed through this demolition. The culture is tied to these buildings, embedded in the walls behind their beautifully hand-carved poplar doors.

These buildings hold the key to the how these people lead their daily lives, how they have been living their daily lives for centuries. These buildings hold their identity and their traditions. As they move into their modern apartments provided by the government, the question still remains: how does one inherit an apartment?

When I heard about the crisis in Kashgar I felt a need to speak out about this destruction of intangible cultural heritage and the cultural genocide of a people. I turned to Facebook to create a Cause page so that I could rally people to speak out for this tragedy. Please join this Cause group at:  http://apps.facebook.com/causes/291898?m=81fdef5b , or sign the petition at: http://www.petitiononline.com/silkroad/petition.html.  Although we may not be able to save Kashgar from destruction, we can at least let it serve as an example for the future in the hopes that a tragedy like this will never happen again.”

Kudos, Ana.

– Chiarch

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For all of you who are interested in the Kashgar situation and want to become involved in trying to raise awareness of the ongoing loss of cultural heritage in Central Asia, join the Facebook cause SAVE KASHGAR, and also sign the PETITION aimed at getting the govt. of the PRC to release more information about how they plan to protect and preserve what is left of the city.

Perpetual Link on the RIght ———————————>

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Definitely check out this online petition that is aimed at getting China’s Cultural Heritage authorities to release more information about their plans for the demolition and rebuilding of Kashgar.

The makers of the petition are trying to “appeal for the public distribution of a plan to preserve and protect what remains of Kashgar and the Uighur culture. This plan should focus on the further study of the historical old town and protect both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Most importantly, this plan should be made available to the public, for scrutiny and encouragement.”

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“To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It”

That was the title of the article that was published in the New York Times yesterday, May 28, 2009. Reaction to the proposed project to “demolish at least 85 percent of this warren of picturesque, if run-down homes and shops,” and relocate as many as 13,000 Uygher families, from the archaeological community should strong be immediate, and strong. Kashgar, known as 喀什市 in Chinese, is located on the extreme western side of China, in the Xinjiang Uygher Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It is a city that lies in the heart of Central Asia, and was one of the most important cities along the ancient Silk Road. Today, it is a city that covers roughly 15 square kilometers, and is still an important connection point on routes between China and northern Pakistan over and around the Taklamakan Desert.

Location of Kashgar(Photo courtesy of http://www.chinahighlights.com)

As much influenced by Islamic and Turkish cultures as Chinese, the city has been known to exist in this area since the Han Dynasty (ca. 202 B.C. – 221 A.D.). Since that time, it has seen heavy traffic from people coming from Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia as they made their way through the city on the Silk Road Trading Route. Because of this, there is no need to discuss how important the city is in terms of archaeological patrimony. But it is this important cultural heritage that is now in imminent danger of destruction. According to the article, the razing of Kashgar’s Old Town, which is located in the very heart of the city, is aimed not only at “preserving Uigher culture,” but also to mitigate and avoid the hazards of earthquakes, which “could strike at any time, collapsing centuries-old buildings and killing thousands.”

Map of Kashgar(Photo courtesy of http://www.lonelyplanet.com)

China’s claims that they are actually protecting cultural heritage beg the question: why not simply relocate families who currently reside in supposed earthquake danger zones, without completely demolishing Kashgar Old Town only to rebuild it in the exact same place? After all, the article states that “In [the] place [of Old City] will rise a new Old City, a mix of midrise apartments, plazas, alleys widened into avenues and reproductions of ancient Islamic architecture.” This method of earthquake disaster prevention seems a bit odd to me. Even more unfortunate is the article’s mention that “Chinese security officials consider [Kashgar] a breeding ground for a small but resilient movement of Uighur separatists who Beijing claims have ties to international Jihadis. So redevelopment of this ancient center of Islamic culture comes with a tinge of forced conformity.” This single statement, I believe, strikes the true heart of the matter more than any claim made about earthquakes. It speaks to the unfortunate situation the modern world finds itself in where archaeological patrimony and cultural heritage is all too often used and manipulated in order to achieve political goals.

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