Repression of the Uighur


Torture, disappearances, forced labor, rehabilitation of children and adults, mass sterilization, widespread surveillance, destruction of heritage… For several years, the Chinese government has been accused of serious attacks on the individual freedoms of Uighurs.

Who are the Uighurs?                                 

Uighurs are Turkish-speaking people with a Sunni Muslim majority. They are based in the Xinjiang province, a so-called autonomous region, but in reality, dominated by Beijing’s central power. It’s a vast and sparsely populated region in northwest China. They represent one of the fifty-six nationalities officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China.

A Chinese whistleblower sent the New York Times 400 pages of secret documents proving the reality of mass imprisonment and persecution of Muslims in the Xinjiang region.

In 2018, out of Xinjiang’s 22 million inhabitants, according to several international experts like the UN and other human rights NGOs, there are nearly one million Uighurs interned in rehabilitation camps by the Chinese government.

The starting point?

After the events that occurred between 2009 and 2014, when demonstrations degenerated and hundreds of people were killed (2009), jihadist attacks caused panic mainly in the Xinjiang area (2013-14). The Xi Jinping leader had pursued a policy of fighting separatism and terrorism. This led to the construction of several prisons and internment camps in 2016. A first massive wave of repression began in 2017-18. 

What are they going through?

Would it be an ethnocide, by which we would seek to destroy the identity of these people? Massive sterilization of women, disappearance of people, erasure of Uighurs identity. Since 2016, 3 million Uighurs have been deported and interned in concentration camps as a result of the repressive policy. They are forced to renounce their faith, language, culture, and swear loyalty to the Chinese side and its leader. 

They must also support the “cousins” emissaries sent, who settle in the homes of the Uighurs, more or less a week, they are there to control them, to force them. There were executions, abuse, rape… 

Also, eslavement, forced labor without rights, (allows companies close to the government to enrich themselves in a corrupt way). QR code on houses, the police passes, scans them and can have access to all their daily actions and so on…

Reactions around the world

Recently, several Western countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom, denounced “genocide”, a great step forward because for the last 3 years, these governments hadn’t talked about this topic.

One would expect support from Muslim countries for the Muslim community in Xinjiang but currently, none of the Muslim countries took part in the international movement to denounce the violence carried out by the Chinese’s regime. It seems that economic interests are more important than human rights. 

Overall, images of camps seized by satellite, videos, and testimonies of tortured Uighurs prove the systematic repression of the Beijing regime, so how can people remain insensitive and keep their eyes closed in the face of a crime against humanity?

Rare photo of ethnic minorities, including Uighurs, imprisoned in the Xinjiang region of China. Prisoners are here listening to a speech of “deradicalization” (Photo recovered byConcerned Scholars of Xinjiang)

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