The Uyghur Muslim Genocide


Muhammad Awais, Contributor

Since around 2010, China has been carrying out a genocide. If this is the first time that you’re hearing about this, it’s because the Chinese government is trying really hard to hide it. An estimated two million people are being held in detention camps, mostly Uyghurs, but also Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities. This issue is getting harder to ignore because of how it’s growing and how we might be contributing to it unconsciously.

Uyghurs are being unwillingly shipped to work in factories across China. Some of the products they’ve been making may be right in front of your face, not to mention that they are reportedly being subjugated to mistreatment and persecution in and out of concentration camps. These mistreatments include; forced birth control, rape, forcing men to shave their beards, destroying mosques, forcing them to eat pork, and so on.

About eleven million Uyghurs live in Xinjiang, in the far Northwest corner of China. Uyghurs have always had an uncomfortable relationship with the authorities in Beijing. They have their own language, and are culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of China’s population; which is more than 90 percent Han Chinese. On top of this, there’s the fact that many Uyghurs are Muslim in a country that is aggressively secular. The Chinese Government encouraged Han people to migrate to Jinjiang with them often being favored over Uyghurs for top jobs. These tensions and resentments, amid an overall atmosphere of extreme discrimination finally boiled over in 2009, with riots in the capital that killed 200 people, mostly Han Chinese.

Rather than address the complex underlying factors behind those riots and other incidents, the Chinese government simply painted the situation as religious terrorism. Thus began a decade-long crackdown that’s escalated steadily, especially after China’s president Xi Jinping came to power and instituted what was called the, “Strike Hard Campaign,” against violent terrorism in 2014. All of a sudden, Uyghurs started being treated like they were all potential terrorists. In fact, Xinjiang is now one of the most heavily policed areas in the world; with the authorities surveilling things that most people would find utterly meaningless. If you go through Uyghur neighborhoods or suburbs, you see cameras over every house entrance, so the government can see who enters and who leaves.

Now, one might ask for a solution and how can we prevent things like this from ever happening again. American officials have put sanctions on corporations who provide the surveillance enforced in Xinjiang, and Congress passed the important Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which Trump signed. Adversely, the chairman stated he approved Chinese officials denying the genocide because of business talks. Bolton, Trump’s former advisor, claims Trump told Chinese leader Xi Xingping last year that building concentration camps for Uyghurs were their right to do so. Experts say that the U.S does not have an asylum program for China’s Muslim minorities, nor nonpartisan support for matters like cultural education. “If we want to take the cultural genocide claim seriously, the way to do that is to promote Uyghur heritage,” says Darren Byler, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado. We as a nation should boycott companies that partake in forced Uyghur labor!