Roger J. Wendell
Defending 3.8 Billion Years of Organic EvolutionSM


East Turkestan The Silk Road
and the Uyghur people of East Turkestan (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Province, China)
In June, 2001, I visited Tibet, China and The Silk Road.
In later years I returned to China and visited Hong Kong and Macau.
By the time of my subsequent visits it was clear that the Chinese government's
brutality of its own people had only worsened...

The Ancient City of Jiaohe on the Silk Road by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Walking with Ray Anderson's friend, Li Chiang, through the ancient
city of Jiaohe along the Silk Road - photo by Roger J. Wendell
The Silk Road was an ancient, 7,000 mile long network of trade routes between China's capital at Changan and the westernmost reaches of the Roman empire. These routes, historically, were used to exchange not only silk with China and the West, but a wide variety of other commodities as well.

With our friend Ray's help, we visited parts of the Silk Road in what is now China's Xinjiang Province [East Turkestan] in the northwest part of the country.

Our journey took us through the Taklimakan desert, one of the route's most difficult barriers. Unlike the Gobi desert, the Taklimakan is much more dry and sparse with underground water or the occasional oasis very rare to come by. Even in early June we found temperatures to be over 35 degrees Celsius (Nearly 100 Fahrenheit).

Depsite language barriers, heat, and a serious car wreck and my fractured shoulder, we thoroughly enjoyed our travels through Xinjiang and the Silk Road and will return again someday...

  - Roger J. Wendell, July 2001


Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for my page about China.



The September 11th tragedy on America's east coast can never be forgotten. However, for the Chinese government to use this as an excuse to subdue Xinjiang's indigenous
Uyghur People is unacceptable. The Uyghur People have been in western China much longer than the ethnic Han who are currently invading the area to ostensibly combat "terrorism."

- Roger J. Wendell, Spring 2002


Uyhgur Radio Interview

Alim Seytoff
Yellow Arrow Pointing Right Click Here for my KGNU interview with Alim Seytoff!
I've had a long association with KGNU and had the pleasure of interviewing Alim Seytoff in January, 2015, for our Friday morning "Connections" program. Alim Seytoff is an attorney and, at the time of this interview, was president of the Uyhgur American Association. Throughout the interview Mr. Seytoff covered a great deal of Uyhgur history and the current injustices his people are suffering under Chinese occupation of East Turkestan.


There is no press freedom in China:

BBC Logo The BBC remains one of the world's most respected news organizations yet China's National Radio and Television Administration banned them in February, 2021.
China accused the BBC of failing to meet the requirement for news to be truthful and fair, and accused it of damaging China's national interests.
The BBC had been covering a number of sensitive issues in China, including its treatment of the minority Uighur people in China's Xinjiang province. (Including recent coverage on the rape and torture of women in "re-education" camps for the Uighurs.) Also, the BBC had recently questioned China's treatment of its people during the COVID crisis and questioned whether the government's death figures could be trusted.




China President Hu Leaves G8 Early Amid Riots
AP - July 7, 2009

"URUMQI, China - China's president cut short a G8 summit trip to hurry home Wednesday after ethnic tensions soared in Xinjiang territory, with sobbing Muslim women scuffling with riot police and Chinese men with steel pipes and meat cleavers rampaging through the streets.

"The new violence in Xinjiang's capital erupted Tuesday only a few hours after the city's top officials told reporters the streets in Urumqi were returning to normal following a riot that killed 156 people Sunday. The officials said more than 1,000 suspects had been rounded up since the spasm of attacks by Muslim Uighurs against Han Chinese, the ethnic majority.

"In a rare move, President Hu Jintao cut short a trip to Italy to take part in a Group of Eight meeting later Wednesday to travel home to deal with the violence, the Foreign Ministry said on its Web site.

"In Tuesday's chaos, hundreds of young Han men seeking revenge began gathering on sidewalks with kitchen knives, clubs, shovels and wooden poles. They spent most of the afternoon marching through the streets, smashing windows of Muslim restaurants and trying to push past police cordons protecting minority neighborhoods. Riot police successfully fought them back with volleys of tear gas and a massive show of force.

"Urumqi had a heavy security presence Wednesday morning after an overnight curfew in the city of 2.3 million was lifted. Two helicopters flew over the city watching the scene.

"Uighurs have said this week's rioting was triggered by the June 25 deaths of Uighur factory workers killed in a brawl in the southern Chinese city of Shaoguan. State-run media have said two workers died, but many Uighurs believe more were killed and said the incident was an example of how little the government cared about them.

"The ugly scenes over the last several days highlight how far away the Communist Party is from one of its top goals: Creating a "harmonious society." The unrest was also an embarrassment for the Chinese leadership, which is getting ready to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Communist rule and wants to show it has created a stable country.

"But harmony has been hard to achieve in Xinjiang, a rugged region three times the size of Texas with deserts, mountains and the promise of huge oil and natural gas reserves. Xinjiang is also the homeland for 9 million Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gers), a Turkic-speaking group.

"Many Uighurs believe the Han Chinese, who have flooded into the region in recent years, are trying to crowd them out. They often accuse the Han of prejudice and waging campaigns to restrict their religion and culture.

"The Han Chinese allege the Uighurs are backward and ungrateful for all the economic development and modernization the Han have brought to Xinjiang. They also complain that the Uighurs' religion - a moderate form of Sunni Islam - keeps them from blending into Chinese society, which is officially communist and largely secular.

"U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called the violence a "major tragedy" and said all sides should "exercise great restraint so as not to spark further violence and loss of life."

"The authorities have been trying to control the unrest by blocking the Internet, including social networking sites such as Facebook, and limiting access to texting services on cell phones. At the same time, police have generally been allowing foreign media to cover the tensions.

"In a sign the government was trying to address communal grievances after the factory brawl in southern China, the official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday that 13 people had been arrested, including three from Xinjiang. Two others were arrested for spreading rumors on the Internet that Xinjiang employees had raped two female workers, the report said, citing a local police official.

"Chinese officials dismiss claims that the Urumqi rioting was caused by long-simmering resentments among the Uighurs. They said the crowds were stirred up by U.S.-exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer and her overseas followers, who used the Internet to spread rumors.

Rebiya Kadeer
Rebiya Kadeer
"'Using violence, making rumors, and distorting facts are what cowards do because they are afraid to see social stability and ethnic solidarity in Xinjiang,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing during a blistering verbal attack on Kadeer. She has denied the allegations.

"In Washington, D.C., Kadeer accused China of inciting the ethnic violence, saying peaceful Uighur demonstrators have been targeted as part of the continuing repression in the region by the Chinese government.

"'I'm not responsible,' Kadeer, president of the Uyghur American Association said, during a rally. 'The Chinese authorities instigated the violence.'"


China rejects U.S. attack on human rights
CNN - Beijing, China, March 12, 2008

"China's foreign minister Wednesday rejected criticism of its human rights record, accusing the United States of 'clinging to a Cold War mentality' and 'practicing double standards.'"

"Yang Jiechi was responding to questions about a State Department report released a day earlier that characterized China's human rights record as one of the most repressive in the world."

"The report was released five months before the Summer Olympic Games kickoff in Beijing."

"Although he chided the United States and other critics of its human rights record as 'making confrontation,' Yang stressed that China is 'ready for dialogue with the United States, as long as it is done in an environment of respect and fairness.'"

"Despite rapid economic growth and social change in China, the report said the 'authoritarian' Chinese government 'continues to deny their citizens basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.'"

"It also said there was an increase in forced relocations in Beijing, with people being thrown out of their homes to make way for Olympic projects."

"'China's overall human rights record remained poor in 2007,' it stated, citing tightening controls over religious freedom in Tibet and the Uyghur population."

"China announced Sunday that militants in Xinjiang's Uyghur Autonomous Region had planned to carry out two terror attacks, including one targeting the Olympics set to begin on August 8. China said it successfully thwarted both attacks.

"The autonomous region is home to about 19 million people, most of whom are Muslims and other minorities. Many of them oppose Beijing's rule."

"The State Department report also said China has increased its efforts to 'control and censor the Internet, and the government tightened restrictions on freedom of speech and the domestic press' and bloggers."

"It cited a 20 percent increase over 2006 in convictions of citizens under what it called China's overly broad state security law that is often used to silence government critics."

"'The government continued to monitor, harass, detain, arrest, and imprison journalists, writers, activists, and defense lawyers and their families, many of whom were seeking to exercise their rights under law,' the report said."

"'Individuals and groups, especially those deemed politically sensitive by the government, continued to face tight restrictions on their freedom to assemble, their freedom to practice religion, and their freedom to travel.'"




Click on any of this page's "thumbnail" images for a larger view:


Our trip way out west of Beijing (about 2,000 miles west!)

Xinjiang Kuqa Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves - June 2001
Thousand Buddha Caves
Xinjiang Uyghur Knife Craftsman - June 2001
Uyghur Knife Craftsman
Xinjiang Yurt by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Xinjiang Rainbow by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Xinjiang Rainbow
Lake Karakul, Xinjiang, China by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Lake Karakul, Xinjiang
Xinjiang Camel by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Xinjiang camel
Xinjiang Donkey Cart by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Donkey cart
Xinjiang Donkey Keep Off The Grass by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Keep Off The Grass
Xinjiang Environment Protection with by Roger J. Wendell - June 2001
Environment Protection!
At the Bank of China in Xinjiang - June 2001
At the Bank of China
Roger J. Wendell at Xinjiang Agricultural University, Urumqi - June 2001
Agricultural University at Ürümqi
Roger J. Wendell, with Guide Li Chiang, enroute Turpan in the back of a pickup truck - June 2001
Riding with Li Chiang to Turpan
Making Noodles in a Xinjiang Market - June 2001
Making noodles...
Making Noodles in a Xinjiang Market - June 2001
...in Xinjiang
At a xinjiang Market - June 2001
At the market
Ray at a Kashgar market, xinjiang - June 2001
Ray at a Kashgar market



Out of Bounds for Foreigners
Here we are on Some Rare and Remote Chinese Ground!
Here we are standing on some
very rare and remote Chinese
Our Chinese Car Wreck in the Tien-Shan Mountains
We were in a head-on collision
coming down from an 11,000 foot
pass in the Tien-Shan mountains...
A Crowd Gathers Around our Chinese Car Wreck
A crowd almost immediately gathered
out of "nowhere" as I didn't recall
seeing any villages or people in the area...
Roger Wendell Fractured Shoulder in a Chinese Hospital
The Chinese were able to X-ray
my skull and arms where they
found fractures my left shoulder.


While in the Tien-Shan mountains, nearly 1,500 miles west of Beijing, we were able to sneak into a military area where few Westerners had ever stood before. Although we were successful in reaching that rare spot the police found us out and took us in for the night. Unfortunately they were not in the mood to allow any picture-taking in and around the jail. Nevertheless, I was able to preserve pictures of the "Out of Bounds For Foreigners" sign (And boy did they mean it!!) and the shot of us on that rare and remote Tien-Shan mountain real-estate where few westerners had ever stepped before.
Car Stream Crossing - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Xinjiang is a HUGE province with a lot of difficult roads...
The following morning, after being released by the police, we left the restricted area via an 11,300 foot pass through the Tien-Shan mountains. Unfortunately, on the way down, we came into a head-on collision with a utility truck that completely totaled our car. Our driver's face was cut, pretty badly, with Ray, Randy, and Jeshua sustaining a variety of bumps and bruises. I, myself, hit my head and shoulder really hard as I was leaning out the window taking a GPS reading at the time of the collision. I think I went unconscious, briefly, but was definitely disoriented and dazed for awhile. According to my GPS we were doing about 40 mph (64 km/h) when the truck hit us head-on as we both rounded a curve along the mountain road. Roger Wendell Laying in the Road With a Head Injury - Tien-Shan Mountains, Xinjian Province, China - 2001
I was taken to what I believe was the region's only hospital - nearly six hours away via unpaved road to Kuche, still well within the huge province of Xinjiang. The hospital staff treated me well although I do recall some chuckling as they kept trying to stand me up in front of their X-ray machine and I kept passing out and crumpling to the floor. Many of the other patients, and their visitors, found me to be a curiosity - some asking if my nose would ever stop growing while they stared smoking next to me in the hallway and hospital room (Many Chinese are fascinated with blonde hair, something I don't poses. They're also distracted by what they believe to be very large noses on the faces of Westerners - I'll have to agree with them - my nose, and that of the majority in North America, is pretty darn large when compared to Asians!).


The Uyghur People
(pronounced "WEE-Ger")

The Uyghurs were the majority before the Chinese arrived and took their land!

Uyghur People - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Uyghur craftsmen
Uyghur Herdsmen - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Uyghur Herdsmen
Uyghur Lunch Crowd in the Country - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Uyghur lunch crowd
Meet your Uyghur Chef
Meet the chef!
Kashgar Donkey Cart - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Kashgar donkey cart
Roger J. Wendell on the Karakoram Highway between Kashgar and Lake Karakul, China - 2001
Karakoram "Highway"
Ray and Randy on 12,500 Lake Karakul (Qarokul) which sits adjacent 24,000 and 25,000 foot peaks, China - 2001
Lake Karakul (Qarokul)
The camels we used at Lake Karakul, Xinjian, China - 2001
The camels we used...
Mustagh Ata, 7,546 meters, located in Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Mustagh Ata - 7,546m
Mount Kongur, 7,719 meters, located in Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Mount Kongur - 7,710m
Meat for Sale - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Meat for sale
Preparing the Meat - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Preparing the meat...
Roger J. Wendell cycling in the Turfan Depression - Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Turfan Depression
Yurt located in Xinjian Province, China - 2001
A Yurt!
Randy and Jeshua inside a Yurt located in Xinjian Province, China - 2001
Inside a yurt...
In the third photo, bottom row, I am bicycling through the Turfan Depression in Xinjian Province, China. Also known as "Turpan," the area is 200 feet (61 metres) below sea level with the Karez Wells nearby. Although it was only June, it was pretty darn hot out and I was wearing shorts through different parts of the Muslim world - a faux pas I wish I would have been more aware of at the time...




More Silk Road Photos:

  1. Map of the Silk Road (123k)
  2. Map of China (12k)
  3. Here's the truck we hit in the Tien-Shan Mountains... (37k)
  4. Miles from anywhere yet a crowd still gathers (46k)
  5. "Humeral Neck" and "Greater Tubercle" fractures with damage to my "Deltoid Tubercle?" (28k)
  6. This off-duty police woman was not impressed with us (37k)
  7. Earlier we helped this truck get through an avalanche shed at about 11,000 feet (38k)
  8. On about a dozen occasions we got out to help our own car over some rough sections of road (62k)
  9. Some gas stations were modern, some were not... (52k)
  10. Chinese wind power near the Silk Road! (29k)
  11. Ray, Tina and the kids were great! (42k)
  12. Here's a Power Point presentation on where we were... (It's a BIG 857k file)
  13. I found the Squatty Potty toilets of China, despite their lack of cleanliness, to be much more healthful than what we're accustomed to. This is because a natural "squatting" position is required that doesn't entail touching your bottom to anything. This particular photo is of a typical train squatty (5k) and is a stainless steel version of what can be found in all kinds of different forms around the country. Tina, our American friend in Urumqi, introduced me to the term "Squatty Potty," something I also discuss on my Africa page. My Toilet Matters page has more info on this delicate subject...
  14. There are more photos from our trip on my Tibet and China pages...





  1. Abused and Ignored - David G. Young on the Uighur People
  2. Aconcagua (Argentina)
  3. Africa (Eastern) - Kenya, Tanzania, and my Kilimanjaro climb
  4. Africa (Southern) - Our trip through Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  5. Amazonia
  6. Antarctica
  7. Argentina and Brazil
  8. Australia Main Page
  9. Australia Two Page
  10. Bolivia
  11. China
  12. CIA World Factbook on China (although Xinjiang should be an independent country of its own...)
  13. Africa
  14. Ecuador
  15. India
  1. Japan
  2. Mexico
  3. Photos from around Xinjiang Province...
  4. RFA - Radio Free Asia
  5. Russia
  6. Silkroad Foundation
  7. Silk Road Project founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma
  8. Southeast Asia
  9. Tibet
  10. Travel and Travel Two
  11. United Kingdom - England
  12. United Kingdom - Wales and Scotland
  13. Uyghur American Association
  14. Waypoints
  15. World Uyghur Congress




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