In the 1930s, Kashgar became the capital of the "Turkish Islamic Republic of East Turkestan," with its own flag and currency. Kashgar was the capital of an independent Uighur nation for five years in the mid-1940s until, in 1949, Beijing asserted its power again.
A revolt exploded in 1997 with riots in Yining and protests in Gulja. The Chinese military suppressed the revolt, gunning down student protesters and imprisoning thousands in labor camps.
In the 21st century, the Chinese government has taken advantage of the "war on terror" to declare Uighur separatists members of the al-Qaeda network--and attack them as such. In 2009, the government announced plans to raze Kashgar and rebuild it according to modern building codes, ostensibly to prevent the city from being destroyed and causing many deaths in an earthquake. The ploy, however, was a transparent attempt to carry out what British travel writer Colin Thubron has called the "silent genocide" of the Uighurs at Chinese hands.