Uyghurs, people from Central Asia, speak Turkic. These people can be found mostly in China’s northwest with independent Xinjiang. Other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang that are under threat include the Uyghurs.
The area’s title implies that Uyghurs are self-governing and autonomous. Xinjiang, however, is a China-controlled area, just like Tibet.
In neighboring countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyz, there are large Uyghur communities. Australia is home to approximately 3,000 Uyghurs. China’s Premier Xi Jinping has taken a hard line against the Uyghurs, and other Muslim minorities residing within Xinjiang. The administration recently increased the number of police officers in the area and installed advanced tracking devices.
Muslim minorities are illegally detained and locked away. Around one million Uyghurs are believed to be held in China’s “professional education facilities.”
These are specially designed detention facilities that mimic highly secure prisons. A new ABC report claims that China’s campaign to subjugate included the expansion and maintenance of 28 prisons in Xinjiang. There is mounting evidence that the centres are violating human rights, including stories of deaths in detention and compulsory labor.
Reports claim that Uyghurs who live abroad have asked Beijing to provide “evidence” of their missing relatives in Xinjiang. A Guardian article stated that 80% of Uyghurs in Australia have a relative who disappeared into one of the prisons.
1949 saw the People’s Republic of Chinese take control of Xinjiang. At the moment, 76% of residents in the region are Uyghur. Han Chinese accounted for only 6.2% of the total population. The rest was composed of ethnic minorities.
Han immigration has influenced the racial makeup of the town. Official figures show that there are currently 42% Uyghurs in the country and 40% Han residents.
Beijing does not recognize the area as a province. However, many Muslims in Xinjiang view the 1949 acquisition of the area as colonialism. Some groups have also rebelled against Beijing’s government. Some advocate Freedom United while others are against using Mandarin.
Beijing regards any criticism or unhappiness towards the Chinese Communist Organization as dangerous. Opposition from minorities is considered a threat to national safety. This is true even though reasonable voices push for improvements in education, employment, and health. Beijing places regional security as a top priority. It is unacceptable to assert that Xinjiang is part of China, even though it conflicts with China’s official stance.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Uyghurs fled China for safety after violent crackdowns.
Recurrent demonstrations have taken place throughout Xinjiang as a result of recurrent efforts at quick and forcible integration, discriminating and repressive laws, and a loop of what critics have dubbed “repression-violence-repression.”
Terrorist attacks occasionally have occurred in Xinjiang as well as other parts of China, such the attack on the Kunming railway station terminal.
Beijing has made the Uyghur ethnicity a terrorist organization in recent years. Beijing now has the right to make Xinjiang a surveillance regime. There has also been an increase in Islamophobia. Certain Uyghurs have been hired by the government to watch over other Uyghurs, and report any illegal or questionable activities. This applies to those who quit smoking and who abstain drinking alcohol. It also applies to Uyghurs who refuse to view Chinese news programs.
Beijing uses iris readers, DNA testing and 3D identifying images for Uyghurs. Voice and face identification are also used. These techniques were established when Chen Quanguo, the Xinjiang Party chief, was appointed by Xi in 2016. Chen was the head of Tibet’s Buddhist population. He also served in similar capacities in Tibet.
According to reports, up to 100 Uyghur intelligencesia including poets, journalists, authors and lecturers at universities have been jailed in recent months. Even if they are in a reasonable position and work for peace, academics who speak out against injustice and preserve old traditions may be persecuted.
Beijing detained Ilham Tohti in 2014. He was an economics professor who opposed independence and pushed to have peace in Xinjiang. Ilham Tohti was wrongly found guilty of being a separatist, and is currently in a life sentence.
Xinjiang is dependent on China’s Belt and Road program, a growth strategy that includes construction and expenditures across Europe, Asia and Africa. It could allow the world to use sanctions as an international pressure tool. Another option is to cancel or suspend existing Belt and Road agreements. Other nations have the responsibility to intervene and force Beijing to respect international human rights laws.
What was the global reaction?
A large part of the world has condemned China’s imprisonment of Uyghurs at Xinjiang. China was asked by the human right office to release unjustly detained persons and provide the location of those still missing. Many Western countries on the United Nations Human Rights Council were in planning to pass a resolution against China after the assessment was published in 2022. This may include an investigation.
In January 2021, the US government was the first one to accuse China for committing genocidal acts against the Uyghurs. However, legislators from many other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have now followed suit. Many countries have also placed sanctions on chinese leaders, and other organisations that are involved in rights violations.
To combat forced labor in Xinjiang, state countries have also established regulations. The Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act effectively banned all imports from this area.