Written by Frank Granda
Who are the Uyghers?
In the Xinjiang region of China, a group of people called the Uyghurs who are mostly a Muslim minority group in the country which is a problem for the officially atheistic Chinese Communist Party. Over 12 million Uyghurs live in Xinjiang having their own language which is similar to Turkish. The Uyghurs make up half of the population in Xinjiang but are threatened by Han Chinese migration Into the region. As a result, tensions between the Uyghers and Han would often lead to violence.
What is Happening?
Starting in 2017, more than a million Uyghers were sent to “re-education camps” by the Chinese government in an attempt to erase their culture and language. These are the largest concentration and prison camps to be created ever since the Holocaust. The Uyghers held in these camps were subjected to patriotic classes, Mandarin classes, and any form of mass indoctrination. The camps are high-security prisons with strict discipline and punishments inflicted on the Uyghur detainees. The Chinese government denies the camps existed, but satellite imaging revealed these camps’ construction barbed wire and watchtowers already installed. Many Uyghurs who were in these camps claimed that they were detained, not “re-educated.” There were reports of physical, mental, and sexual torture. Women in these camps have reported mass rapes, sexual assaults, and mass sterilization. All of this with the intention of stripping the Uyghers of their religion and other freedoms.
Actions against the Uyghers!
Laws were also passed that were meant to end their way of life, such as prohibiting men from growing beards, women from wearing veils, and destroying dozens of mosques in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is under heavy surveillance with large quantities of police, checkpoints, and cameras, that scan everything from human faces to license plates on vehicles. It is because of this that Xinjiang is one of the most heavily policed places in the world. Muslims in Xinjiang are also forced to eat alcohol and pork in an attempt to eradicate their culture. The Chinese government has also been reported to use the Uyghurs for forced labor working in constructed factories.
There has been international condemnation with the United States accusing China of attempted genocide and crimes against humanity for their actions on the Uyghurs. The United States has recently made accusations that China had committed crimes against humanity ad genocide in Xinjiang. China repeatedly denies allegations of genocide happening in their camps despite overwhelming evidence from the international community to escalating tensions between China and nations such as the United States. The United States has also banned imported goods from Xinjiang due to the risk of being made from forced labor. News organizations such as the BBC are banned from China as a response to the investigation on the treatment of Uyghers from the Chinese government. This is asignificant concern and why there must be a need for awareness of this issue and adding pressure to China to end this practice once and for all.
How to take action?
The best way to take action is first by boycotting companies said to have their products made by Uygher factory workers such as Nike and Volkswagen. Another way to show support for the Uyghers is to call on local governments to put on pressure on China by calling for sanctions, if not international condemnation. There is also the option of donating and joining organizations such as the World Uyghur Congress which are currently working to end this horrific practice once and for all.