Ethnic Injustice in China
The injustice plaguing the Uyghur minority in China is not new, China’s efforts to keep their repressive actions hidden not just within its borders but across the globe mean that many people are unaware of the issues and human rights violations faced by the Uyghur community.
Who are the Uyghurs?
They are a Muslim Turkic minority, which was once self-ruled under the Qing empire but was absorbed and under control of the Chinese government. The injustice began when China offered incentives to the Han ethnic majority to move to the Xinjiang region which resulted in Uyghurs losing their jobs, farmland, and even being denied government jobs. While many Uyghurs seek autonomy, the region’s resources and rich oil supply make China keen to retain its power over the Xinjiang region.
China’s view of the Uyghurs
The Chinese Community Party (CCP) sees the cultural and religious identities of the Uyghurs as a threat to the hegemony of their Communist project. Because of this perceived threat, the party-state has been persistent in silencing the voices of the Uyghur community. Riots are incited by the CCP causing a great deal of repression.
How it started
The Chinese state has used its advanced facial and voice recognition as well as checkpoints to track the movement of the Uyghurs. They were able to e-tag Uyghur families, which has enabled the government to locate and confine the Uyghurs in concentration camps. At first, the Chinese government relentlessly lied and hid the camps, until multiple agencies across the globe had satellite footage and proof of their existence. These camps are officially labeled as “reeducation camps,” which are supposedly designed to assimilate the Uyghurs into China. There have been leaked documents that show evidence of an attempt to erase the Uyghur heritage and replace their religious beliefs with Communist propaganda.
Students welcome home
Many of the best and brightest of the younger generation are sent east to study and become party loyalists. The Chinese have done this in hopes of controlling the generation through party ties. Upon arrival home from school across China, students found their families missing with documents being circulated supposedly giving them “answers” to their concerns. The documents told students that their families were put into “schools” from which they were unable to return. They also threatened students by saying that their behavior could extend their family’s time in the detention centers. Parts of the document guide officials to claim that their family members are “infected” by a “virus” which they claim is radical Islam. The CCP wants to remove religious beliefs from the Uyghurs. Their public stance is that they are fighting terrorism. However, their so-called motives were from a failed plane hijacking that the Chinese government compares to 9/11. The key issue is that the group they blame is a phantom group designed to target the Uyghur community.
Crimes Committed against the Uyghurs
Today China has put in place around four hundred internment camps ranging from low to extreme levels of control over the Uyghurs. While much of what is happening in these camps are being silenced by the CCP, there are leaked documents and first-hand accounts pointing towards unfathomable crimes against the Uyghur people. Some victims claim they were drugged, electrocuted, and beaten while being interrogated. While in the camps, prisoners are required to maintain a certain posture and position when, eating, working, sleeping, and sitting. The camps claimed education is more of brainwashing. The government destroyed mosques and graveyards to erase the history and religious practices of the Uyghur people.
What’s happening today?
China is still currently building detention centers with little to no motivation to stop. These detention centers have significantly increased in size and complexity, suggesting that the Chinese government has no intention to stop. Officials are also continuing to demolish gravesites and mosques to further the eradication of the Uyghur’s identity and history. One recent event that took place was the filming of Mulan. The live-action film was partly filmed in Xinjiang, which has put Disney in hot water. Essentially Disney and other big businesses are looking the other way on human rights issues so long as they are repaid with China’s business. Many people say that there isn’t a way to stop China other than war. The only other viable way is to hurt China’s economy and many big business-like Disney wouldn’t dare sacrifice their gain to end this issue.
What can we do?
States and national media need to focus and create more awareness for the human rights violations happening in Xinjiang. The world needs to know about the web of lies China spins and the violations of human rights that they are making.