Licensed to kill Osman


osmanbaturFrom whichever angle he is viewed, the Xinjiang Kazakh leader Osman Batur (1899-1951) is a larger than life figure. For Kazakhs, particularly those who fled China in the 1940s and formed a diaspora community in Turkey, he is without doubt a national hero. To those Western anti-Communists who had dealings with him, there was no more noble a savage. From the Chinese point of view, though, he is something quite different: a bandit, who epitomised the perilous situation in Xinjiang on the eve of liberation, when opportunist local chiefs were on the verge of selling out to the imperialists led by the US. Osman’s show trial and execution in Ürümchi in 1951 thus provided a rousing climax to the CCP’s early “bandit suppression” campaigns in Xinjiang, an event celebrated in PRC historiography as much as in literature (e.g. Wang Yuhu’s recently re-released Xinjiang pingpan jishi 新疆平叛纪事). Continue reading