Uyghur Movement: Challenges to the Ethnic Movement

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Right groups say China has detained around one million Uighurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in western Xinjiang region. — Media file photo

China has a long history of Uyghur discrimination but world has a role to play.

Dr Burhan Uluyol

THE Xinjiang autonomous region in China is facing the worst kind of cultural and ethnic genocide. There is a long history of dissonance between the indigenous ethnic Uyghur and Chinese authorities.

The Chinese government refuses to categorise Uyghurs as an indigenous population and describe Uyghurs as a regional minority. One among China’s fifty-five ethnic minorities, Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group originating from central and eastern Asia.

China is facing criticism and worldwide condemnation over its unkind and harsh treatment towards the Uyghur Muslims. A Uyghur-Kazakh citizen, Gulbahar Jelilova reported that she was ruthlessly beaten and raped while in custody.

Stew Chao, a journalist working with Aljazeera reported that Abduveli Ayup-prominent Uyghur writer, activist and Uyghur language defender was put in a detention centre and later brutally tortured.

Evidence suggests that China is systematically targeting Uyghur Muslims through a state-planned birth control process. Zumrat Dawut and Kalbinur Sidik who survived from Chinese detention camps narrated that Uyghur women who conceive more than three children are forcefully sterilised.

Women survivors from these camps narrated that they were beaten, raped, and given mystery injections. A ground study from Concentration camp survivors suggest that Chinese authorities have adopted brutal methods to stop new Uighur births. Forced pregnancy checks, medications that stop menstruation, forced abortions, sterilizations, IUDs (Intrauterine contraceptive devices), and mystery injections are given to Uyghur women by Chinese officials to stop new births.

Person to person outreach suggested that people who were imprisoned and kept in so-called education camps experienced the worst kind of brutalities. People are mercilessly beaten, tortured, and interrogated. Authorities beat them ruthlessly, torture them with electric shocks, and pull-off their nails. They are accused of crimes they never committed.

Muslims in Xingang is not only facing physical carnages but are downgraded and lowered psychologically as well. Uighur Muslim minorities confined in camps were forced to criticise their faith and basic Islamic values. They are forced to recite communist party propaganda and criticise Islam as part of the indoctrination process.

Chinese authorities claim that these camps have benefited millions of workers through educational and vocational training. However, according to testimony from survivors these so-called education camps are the worst places so far as human rights violations are concerned.

Uyghur Muslims are detained unlawfully for inconsequential matters like publishing a story ten years ago or learning Quran and its interpretations long ago. Some survivors from detention camps revealed that they were detained because of travelling abroad and some detained just on the charges of learning Uyghur history.

Political analysts believe that situation in Xinjiang is gruesome and the response from the global community is sneaky. Countries around the world didn’t want to affect their ties with economically durable China. However, as a positive development recently MPs in the UK voiced out against human rights violations in Xinjiang and urged British officials and athletes to respond by not taking part in 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

From the last few years, Chinese atrocities and human rights violations have upsurged. Muslims in Xingang is not only facing physical carnages but are downgraded and lowered psychologically as well. A strong international response is required to push back China’s attack on human dignity.

President Joe Biden reaffirmed the US agenda to counter China on human rights abuses and levelled a series of attacks on China’s alleged human rights abuses during his first phone call as president with Xi Jinping. The statement has come as a hope for the Uyghurs movement.

Uyghur movement has received western attention and support from western governments that have internationalised the issue. Support from different communities, organisations, and individuals have improved the movement. They have support all over the world, of course at the expense of the life of Uyghurs.

Since 1949, China is using the policy of racial discrimination, mass killing, and jailing in the pretext of national security. ETIM is used by CCP as an excuse and justification for their oppressive policies, especially the Nazi-style concentration camps in East Turkistan.

China is the country that politicises its investment and mutual cooperation to get its political goals fulfilled. It seems China bought the silence of many countries most of them Muslims and underdeveloped dictator countries by using Chinese money. Even the US sees the economic interest over human rights to some extent.

Uyghur movement gained power with the support of western governments like the US, UK, Turkey. In addition to these countries Human rights organisations of Jews working in UK and the inter-parliamentary alliance in China, certain advocacy groups such as the World Uyghur Congress, IHH in Turkey are making efforts to organise both Uyghur and non-Uyghur groups to achieve their goals.

What is more important is the need for more Uyghur advocators, international platforms, and support from international organisations. Countries need to open their diplomatic gates so that the Chinese state urgently evolves a political architecture that will allow the Uyghur to maintain their identity and peacefully co-exist with the Hans. However, world communities really should not oppose secular movements for the reassertion of basic political, individual, and religious rights- especially if such movements are peaceful.

China needs to rethink its policies and bring about political changes that are accommodative towards its minority nationalities. The Uyghur movement seems to have lost its momentum by the Chinese repression and strike hard campaign but at the same time, the international campaigns for Uyghur rights and possible independence have become increasingly vocal and well organised. The Uyghur community survives among the diaspora, that spread across central Asia and Europe. They can influence different policies in different parliaments of the world towards their interest.

Individual supporters, activists need financial help to stop China. The Xinxiang independence movement that seeks independence of Xinxiang Uyghur Autonomous the region needs proper guidance and international support. OIC members are being cowed by China’s power and are accused of abetting China’s Uyghur genocide.

It is very clear that China has an economic chokehold on the Muslim world and is really fearful of paying even lip service to the Uyghur cause. — IANS

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(Dr. Burhan Uluyol (Uyghur), also known as Burhan’s saiti is an associate professor at the Istanbul Sabahattin Zain University and an Uyghur activist. He is an author of four books and 60 journal publications. The views expressed are personal.)

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