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Uyghur Figures – Masud Sabri Bayquzi

Uyghur Figures – 11

Masud bin Sabir bin Bayquzi bin Polat Quzi was born in 1887 in Ghulja to a farmer’s family. Bayquzi was originally from Atush County, Kashgar, and was exiled to Ili with his family for his participation in the struggle against Chinese Manchu invasion.

According to historical data, the first group of 2,000 people were deported from Kashgar to the Ili Valley in 1760 by order of Qianlung Khan of the Manchu Dynasty, and another 6,000 Uyghurs were forcibly deported after the Uchturpan Revolution in 1765. These exiles were forced to build walls and buildings there. “The first 600 people from the first group were native to the arid lands between Gulustay and Bulukoy on the southern side of the Ili Valley, including his grandfather, Polat Gozi.

After settling in new lands, they lived by erecting tents and digging caves, and over the years, digging canals for irrigation and cultivation. They built homes, gardens, and gradually settled down to a beautiful and prosperous city, and they naming it ‘Aroz’

Masud’s grandfather lived such a difficult life among other disaffected villagers until months and years passed, his son Sabir was born heir to his difficult life.

Like his father, Sabir was endured cruelty of the time until he reached adulthood. After tasting the bitterness of life and overcoming life’s tests, he joined the ranks of the revolutionaries when the national struggle in Ili began under the leadership of Sadir Palwan. After the war ended, he returned to his country and worked for a living.

Masud was born into a warrior’s struggling family and inherited the great work his father started.

From his childhood, he was an intelligent, industrious, shiny, knowledge-loving boy who started his knowledge seeking by attending a religious school in his village. He then continued his studies in a semi-religious and semi-scientific school. Because of his passion for knowledge, his teachers encouraged him to study abroad.

At the time, the only country where young Uyghurs could study was Turkiye. However, he did not have enough money for travel and tuition fees. Huseyin Bat, who is famous for his love of knowledge and culture, reached out to him and paid for his education. His dreams of studying abroad were then fulfilled.

In the summer of 1916, he arrived in Istanbul, wanting to study science. He attended the Istanbul Medical Institute. At the time, Turkiye’s university system was for three years, so in 1919, he successfully completed his studies and returned to his hometown of Ghulja with the aim of serving his people.

After returning home, he saw his people still living under the persecution of Chinese invaders, hungry and naked, and he knew how sorry he was for the fate of his own people and how sad he was for them. Because what he saw in Turkiye and what he saw in East Turkistan was a stark contrast, he was determined  to save his people.

Masud opened a private clinic in his home and started treating people. He also wanted to open a modern school, and he appealed to Huseyin Bay. Huseyin Bay was pleased with his determination, so he helped him build a new school and fill it with the necessary equipment and tools.

This was the first modern school opened in the city of Ghulja with a new curriculum. Students would attend regardless of whether they were rich or poor. Masud and Abdurahman Efendi were the school’s main teachers.

But ignorant officials and local zealots collaborated with the Chinese ruler to monitor the activities of the nobles and began spreading rumors. They said, “Teachers are leading our kids out of religion by teaching a new curriculum, we won’t allow that, and military training for young people is anti-government. So the governor must close the school and punish the owners.”

After this news, the governor immediately ordered the arrest of the two men, considering their training activities dangerous, placed them in iron cages, and sent them to Urumchi under the watch of 100 soldiers a few months later. The two men spent three years in Urumchi prison. Although their prison life has weakened them in a dark prison, under endless torture, it strengthened their will and psyche, making them even stronger revolutionaries.

It is known that Yang Zhensheng was assassinated by his rivals in 1928. Jing Shuren, who came to power, was forced to make concessions and release some political prisoners to strengthen his rule. In the process, Masud and his companion were released and returned to Ghulja in 1930.

With the support and help of the intellectual and enlightened people such as Huseyin bay, Marouf Saidi, Ayub Mansuri, Tayyib Zat Khalifa, Tayob Ghazi, Abdulmutaali Khalifa, and Amir Zangir, Masud opened his clinic again to treat people’s illnesses.

In 1933, during the month of Ramadan, he went to the Baytullah Mosque as usual, and returned home after prayers. When he arrived at the Kura gate, he saw Adil Bay hiding behind a tree, with a dagger ready to assassinate him. At this time, Masud realized he was about to be assassinated, so he took out his gun and shot him first. 

That night, Masud left with his family that night, through Muz Dawan, and then went to Kashgar from there. Shortly after his departure, the ongoing national liberation struggle in Kashgar achieved major victories. As a result of the victory of the revolution, the “Islamic Republic of East Turkistan” was established under the leadership of Sabit Damollam. Masud actively participated in this revolution and supported the government with his consultation.

But the Chinese occupiers and the Soviet Union, who did not want the freedom of the Turkistan people, were trying to extinguish the flames of the revolution and destroy the revolutionary East Turkistan Islamic Republic. In this struggle, the National Revolutionary Army defeated the Chinese Sheng Shicai Army and won.

In 1937, the Soviet Army invaded from land and air armed with modern weapons, inflicting heavy losses on the Islamic Republic of East Turkistan military. They attacked the fighters who withdrew to the Taklimakan desert after being defeated from the air by planes and from the ground by tanks. In this way, it destroyed the new East Turkistan Islamic Republic.

After consolidating his power with the direct participation of the Stalinists, Sheng Shicai massacred the leaders of the East Turkistan government, the patriots who actively participated in the revolution, the intellectuals, the scholars, and the rich.

Masud left Kashgar in 1934, first to Kashmir and then to India. After leaving India, across the ocean, he arrived in Shanghai, then went from Shanghai to Nanjing.

After his arrival in China, he met with Isa Yusuf Alptekin, Muhammed Emin Bugra, Ibrahim Mutiiy, Abdurehim Otkur, and Yaqub, who were working for the motherland in Inner China and engaged in revolutionary struggle activities with them, as well as learning Chinese and English.

Together with these leaders, he gathered the heads of their people living as refugees in Mainland China for various reasons, forming the East Turkistan Society Abroad.

In his capacity as a media officer for the organization, Masud was responsible for the publication and distribution of newspapers and magazines such as Voice of East Turkistan, Khan Tengri, Altay and Erk in China and East Turkistan. He sought to educate people on the ongoing struggles and revolutions, and on patriotism and the fight for liberty. He called on the people to fight, to revolt, and learn tactics and methods of struggle. All these efforts have not been in vain.

On June 6, 1946, after the signing of the “11-Point Peace Treaty” with the Kuomintang government, the political status of the people of East Turkistan changed. Masud was appointed as a member of the cabinet and deputy attorney general of the coalition government.

In the summer of 1946, he came to Ghulja to visit his hometown, relatives, friends and family. Borisov, head of the Soviet intelligence directorate in Ghulja, mobilized all his subordinates to write and distribute propaganda leaflets against him. Stalin’s movement against the “Three Gentlemen” continued until they withdrew from the political scene.

But the East Turkistan government has continued to function normally for almost a year under an “11-Point Peace Treaty.” During this period, many changes occurred both within China and globally. When World War II ended with the defeat of Germany and Japan, Japan’s defeat changed China’s domestic situation; With the help of the Soviet Union, the weakened Chinese Communist Party (CCP) acquired four northeastern provinces, modern industry, and sufficient military technology. As a result, in the summer of 1946, a civil war broke out between the Kuomintang and the Communists. The war between the two sides  became more and more intense militarily and diplomatically.

By spring 1947, the fighting intensified and the situation became more complicated. In order to remedy the situation, the Kuomintang government removed Jang Jijong from the position of Head of Government and appointed Masud as Head of Government on May 19, 1947, and Isa Yusuf Alptekin as General Secretary of the government. On May 28, a ceremony was held as he took over and  assumed his duties.

When Masud Efendi was head of the regional government, political, social, economic, and ethnic conflicts intensified and the situation became extremely complicated. There were no appropriate conditions for him to function normally. However, he used his rule to do everything possible for the country’s future, including:

  1. He sent a man to Nanjing to print 240 textbooks to provide schools with textbooks. Short-term teacher training sessions were conducted in a spirit of nationalism and patriotism.
  2. He tried to educate people, especially young people, to instill patriotism and raise their awareness by developing the press. The youths were taught the history of East Turkistan history, civilization and culture and tried to instill pride in their motherland in their hearts. He published Khan Tengri and Altay magazines in Urumchi, and promoted nationalist ideas. He established a cultural club at the publishing house Altay, called “Dernek”, and organized literary evenings, scientific lectures, talks, and reports on history, language, and literature for young people. In this way, he established the national spirit of youth and shaped the scientific view of the world. In Urumji, he published the newspaper Arc, and through this newspaper, he published ideas such as: “Our nation is Turkic, our homeland is Turkistan! We are patriots, we are the people, and we are human.” This newspaper played an active role in arousing the people’s patriotic spirit.
  3. Large libraries have been opened in major cities, and books, magazines and newspapers have been distributed to these libraries. He collected manuscripts and other cultural resources and placed them in the library for the benefit of the common people.
  4. The media and press evolved rapidly. Altay published and distributed works such as “The Man’s Slogan”, “The Struggle of Independence”, “The Struggle of the Pen”, “The History of Turkistan” and “The Uyghur Alphabet”. He published and distributed his works such as “First Teacher”, “Mukhtars (Selections)”, “Speech” and “Niyaz Qiz” to the public. He also published and distributed books and magazines such as “Jahan”, “Islamic History”, “Knowledge of Youth”, and “Tengri Tagh Pictorial”, prepared by the Western and Northern Cultural Association. These publications and publications have played a major role in the development of culture and knowledge and in instilling patriotism among the people, especially the young.
  5. He paid close attention to water channels. In those years, Turpan, Toqsun, Pichan and other villages didn’t have enough water to plant. To meet the farmers’ water needs he initiated the expansion of the Kariz (Water Canal). He also ordered for the construction of water institutions in Sangkim and Bijan began simultaneously. He donated money for these projects as well as sending technicians and government equipment. The water project started in March 1948 and was completed in June of the same year, to meet the water needs of farmers.
  6. His government provided material assistance to poor families. Despite the government’s financial difficulties, poor families in Urumchi and other cities were registered and provided with free firewood and charcoal. His government also provided cheap flour to 90 bakeries in Urumchi to make bread affordable.

History has revealed that Masud did his best for the welfare of his people as a true national revolutionary during his short tenure. At the end of 1948, after his dismissal from office, he spent nearly a year at his home in Urumchi for treatment.

During this year, tremendous changes took place in East Turkistan and China. The Kuomintang, which ruled China, was defeated in a civil war with the Communists and lost control of Mainland China.

Radical changes have taken place in East Turkistan. Stalin and Mao Zedong conspired against the leaders of the East Turkistan Revolution led by Ahmedjan Qasim, destroying the fruits of the revolution which came at the expense of the blood of the East Turkistan people.

Masud’s friends Muhammed Emin Bugra, Issa Yousuf Alip Tekin and others had to leave the country and go abroad to avoid being killed by Mao Zedong. But Masud decided not to leave the country. The communist army soon reached the territory of East Turkistan.

In the early 1950s, the Chinese occupation issued an arrest warrant for Masud. However, due to his old age and health condition, he was placed under house arrest so that only family members were allowed to visit him.

During the house arrest, bad news reached him every day. All of East Turkistan had become a huge prison. Hundreds of thousands of people had been tortured and killed in prisons and camps. Among them were his brothers Abdulghafur, Rehimjan and his sons Ertugrul and Yildirim.

News came through that his brother, Abdulghafur, and son, Yildirim, were shot dead in front of the Ghulja people. His eldest son, Ertugrul, was then sentenced to 15 years in prison. His other brother’s life is also in danger. The constant bombardment of sad news only deteriorated his health further.

Under heavy police surveillance, he isolated his relationship with the outside world completely, until the Communist government placed obstacles to his treatment, and as a result, Masud, a prominent national warrior who had fought all his life for the freedom of his people and the independence of his country, died on 25 February 1952 in Urumchi at the age of 66.

Masud was a brilliant scholar, writer, and physician, with theoretical and practical knowledge of medical science. He was also a well-known translator and linguist. In addition to his abundant knowledge, he was fluent in Turkish, Chinese and English.

He was well-versed in history, social sciences, and philosophy. During his stay in Mainland China, Chinese intellectuals were impressed to see his vast knowledge and deep experience.

He was also a great fighter, a brilliant politician, and a loyal and faithful retainer of his revolutionary ambitions to the end, ready to sacrifice his life and the life of his family for the welfare of his people. He did not give in to the difficulties and challenges he faced in the struggle. He bravely bore the heavy burden of the revolution on his shoulders and passed the difficult tests of history with honor. 

In  his life, Masud was punished for his intelligence and revolutionary determination. His communist enemies described him as “a nationalist, a Pan-Turkist, a spy for Turkiye, a spy for England.”

By Abdushukur Muhammed

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