|[Published: Sunday May 22 2022]
Everything to Know About the Chinese Crackdown on Uyghurs
WASHINGTON, 22 May. - (ANA) - The Uyghurs are a minority ethnic group who speak their own language and comprise almost half of Xinjiang, which has officially been dubbed the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) since 1955, writes Zoya Wazir in US NEWS.
Here, nearly 12 million Uyghurs live alongside other ethnic groups such as the Han Chinese – the largest ethnic group in China – the Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Tajiks, Uzbeks and Tatars.
While Uyghurs represent an ethnic group rather than a religion, they are predominantly Muslim and have been practicing Islam since the ninth century, during which the Karakhanid – a Turkic fiefdom – ruled over Central Asia.
Since its annexation in 1955, Han Chinese migration has ramped up in the region – bringing the 2020 population to about 42% Han and 45% Uyghur, at least according to Chinese census data, which may or may not be reliable. Because of growing tensions between the Uyghurs and Han Chinese, the Uyghur separatist movement still exists in the Xinjiang region – which China dubs as a “vain wish” that denies history.
Multiple reports from human rights and civil society organizations have found that Uyghurs have been detained in prisons and internment camps since at least 2017, with other abuses starting even earlier.
While the Chinese government argues that these re-education camps are meant to provide Uyghurs with vocational training to combat poverty, separatism and Islamic extremism, Jewher Ilham – a Uyghur rights advocate with the Coalition to End Forced Labor in the Uyghur Region whose father, prominent Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, has been detained in Chinese prison since 2014 – says that the Chinese government’s definition of extremism is intentionally broad to allow for mass detentions.
One of the main ways that Uyghur rights advocates say Uyghurs are exploited after detainment is through forced labor. The region of Xinjiang produces about a fifth of the world’s cotton supply, causing concern among human rights groups who contend that cotton exports from this area are picked through forced labor from Uyghurs.
In the cotton industry and beyond, many companies have been accused of using Uyghur forced labor, including Nike and Apple. Countries around the world have condemned these abuses, including the U.S., which chose not to send any official representatives to the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
In the words of now former White House press secretary Jen Psaki, U.S. diplomats were skipping the contests due to China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses.” - (ANA) -
AB/ANA/22 MAY 2022 — - -