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|President of the First East Turkestan Republic|
1933 – April 1934
|Nationality||Republic of China|
Hoja Niyaz Haji also Xoja Niyaz Haji (Uyghur: خوجا نىياز ھاجى, ULY: Xoja Niyaz Haji, Chinese: 和加·尼牙孜·阿吉; pinyin: Héjiā Níyázī Ājí) (1889 – 1941) was a Uyghur independence movement leader who led several rebellions in Xinjiang against the Kumul Khanate, the Chinese governor Jin Shuren, and later the Hui warlord Ma Chung-ying. He is best remembered as the first and only president of the short-lived Turkish Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan (or First East Turkestan Republic) from early 1933 until the republic's defeat in 1934.
Early life and uprisings
Born in 1889 in a small mountainous village in Kumul Prefecture, Xinjiang, Hojo Niyaz participated in his first rebellion at age 26, joining a 1907 uprising of peasants and mountaineers against Shah Mahsut, hereditary ruler of Kumul (who was allowed semi-autonomous rule by Qing China). After being defeated, he fled to the Turpan region, where he entered "Astana," or religious school, and became acquainted with future prominent Uyghur Turpan revolutionary leaders. After one year of studying, he left Turpan and went on the Hajj to Mecca, adding to his name the title "Hajji".
In 1912, Hojo Niyaz returned to Xinjiang where another uprising against the Kumul Khanate, led by Timur Halpa, was developing, and he joined the rebellion. Following the treacherous killing of Timur Halpa at a banquet held by Xinjiang Governor Yang Zengxin, who previously had mediated the conflict and raised Timur Halpa to the position of Commander of provincial troops in the Kumul Region, Hoja Niyaz was forced again to flee.
In 1916, he came to the then-Russian boundary town of Jarkent, Semiryechye Oblast, founded and populated by Ili Uyghurs who had escaped to Russia after 1881, when Qing troops re-took the Ili valley of Xinjiang. In Jarkent, he served under local Uyghur leader and wealthy merchant Valiahun Yuldashev, and, after the Russian Revolution erupted in 1917, helped organize small, local Uyghur self-defense groups. After the Russian Civil War came to Semiryechye, Hojo Niyaz met Uyghur revolutionary Abdulla Rozibakiev, one of the founders of the Inqlawi Uyghur Ittipaqi ("Revolutionary Uyghur Union") in 1921, a revolutionary nationalistic organization under umbrella of the Comintern.
In 1923, Hojo Niyaz returned to Xinjiang, first to Ghulja, then to Urumqi, where he was organizing underground revolutionary groups and preparing a new rebellion. In 1927, he returned to Kumul for the funeral of his father, and after the death of Kumul Khanate ruler Shah Mahsut in March 1930, Hojo Niyaz was appointed to the high position of adviser to new ruler of the Kumul Khanate.
Nevertheless, the Xinjiang Governor Jin Shuren (1928–1933), sought to take advantage of the power vacuum left after the death of Shah Mahsut and decreed the abolition of the Kumul Khanate, preventing the new ruler, Shah Mahsut's son Nazir, from assuming control. At the same time, Jin Shuren arranged for Han Chinese migrants from Gansu to settle in the abolished Khanate. These events sparked the Kumul Rebellion in 1931, which was led by Hui warlord Ma Chung-ying in Gansu after his June 1931 meeting with Hojo Niyaz and Yulbars Khan. Ma Chung-ying agreed to add his troops to the campaign to topple Jin Shuren. Hoja Niyaz also received support from the Mongolian People's Republic: in autumn 1931 they provided him 600 sets of winter clothes, felt tents and 120 rifles (which were bartered for horses, one rifle was given for two horses).
Rebellion soon spread from the East of Xinjiang throughout the whole province and by February, 1933, when Urumqi was laid siege by joint Uyghur and Hui troops, the Provincial Government controlled no more than 10% of Xinjiang's territory. On April 12, 1933, General Sheng Shicai came to power in Xinjiang after concluding secret agreements with the Soviet Union, and in May 1933, he made an alliance with Hoja Niyaz against Ma Chung-ying. At this time the Soviets gave Hoya Niyaz "nearly 2,000 rifles with ammunition, a few hundred bombs and three machine guns." The newly appointed Soviet Consul in Urumqi, Garegin Apresoff, arranged negotiations and forced Hoja Niyaz to turn his troops against Tungans (Hui) forces, and that eventually led to the rebellion turning into massacres between different national groups, and its defeat in the hands of Provincial troops.
Hoya Niyaz marched his troops across Dawan Ch'eng to Toksun, where he was defeated at the Battle of Toksun by Tungans under General Ma Shih-ming. Hoja Niyaz then fell back to Kashgar on January 13, 1934, retreating from Aksu through a long, 300 mile, march along the Tengri Tagh mountain road, bypassing general Ma Fuyuan's Tungan forces, and assumed the Presidency of the self-proclaimed Turkish Islamic Republic of Eastern Turkestan or Republic of Uyghurstan. Joining the breakaway republic went against his deal of May 1933 with Sheng Shicai, however, and direct Soviet intervention into Xinjiang, and its ultimate support of Sheng Shicai, led to the defeat of East Turkestan Republic by June 1934.
Someone named Niaz Haji said this to Sven Hedin:
"No man can harm me. But these Tungans are no men. They are wild beasts roaming about the streets. It is hopeless to talk to wild beasts. They always have their rifles and pistols read. They do not understand any other language."
A Poem was written about Hoya Niyaz about his battles.
Father Hodjam Niaz Ghazi
his guns are killing five
When he is fighting with the Tungans
he is killing thousands of victims of war.
There are contradictory statements about his death. Though appointed by Sheng Shicai as the Vice-Chairman of the Xinjiang Government and "Civil Governor for life" of the Xinjiang province in 1934, Hoya Niyaz actually was separated from his troops and held in Urumqi as a puppet under close supervising of Soviet agents. He was denied his request to meet Stalin in person and the settle Xinjiang issue in accordance with the Right of nations to self-determination, which was officially supported by the USSR in their revolutionary doctrine. In April 1937, following the Rebellion of the 6th Uyghur Division under general Mahmut Muhiti against the Provincial Government at Kashgar, Hoja Niyaz was arrested in Urumqi and allegedly executed in 1938. The death penalty was approved by Moscow, Hoja Niyaz and his followers were labeled as counter-revolutionary "Trotskysts" and "Japanese agents." Other versions speculate he was held alive in prison as far as summer 1943, when he was executed on the orders of Chiang Kai-Shek, who restored Kuomintang control over Xinjiang in 1943 following Sheng Shicai expelling Soviet military personnel and advisers from the province. Today the many Uyghur people see him as a traitor, due to the fact he sold away the Independence of the Islamic Republic of East Turkistan.
- Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 145. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- Andrew D. W. Forbes (1986). Warlords and Muslims in Chinese Central Asia: a political history of Republican Sinkiang 1911-1949. Cambridge, England: CUP Archive. p. 111. ISBN 0-521-25514-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
- History of the Expedition in Asia, 1927-1935 : vol.3
- Ildikó Bellér-Hann (2008). Community matters in Xinjiang, 1880-1949: towards a historical anthropology of the Uyghur. BRILL. p. 74. ISBN 90-04-16675-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28.