The Xinjiang province of China is home to an ethnic group of minorities. 45% of Xinjiang’s population are Uyghurs. The Uyghur Muslims comprise 80% of the total Uyghur population. The Uyghurs constitute only 1.5-2% of the total population of China. However, their numbers are dwindling everyday. The Chinese government faces bans and sanctions for the alleged acts of human rights violation of the Uyghur Muslims. Several humans-right organizations label the mistreatment of Uyghurs in China as “Genocide of the Uyghur Muslims”.
The People’s Republic of China is ruled by a democratically elected communist regime that advocates a preference of atheism. The Chinese public has the liberty to believe in religion but the law limits their freedom to practice any religion of choice. The government of China recognizes Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, and Catholicism. The Chinese government rigorously moderates the religious sects and activities in the country.
Chinese government’s alleged Acts of Human Rights Violation
The Chinese government allegedly continues to oppress 1 million Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province. The government considers the Uyghur Muslims as extremists. They believe Uyghur are embodiment of the three evils of society: ethnic separatism, religious extremism, and violent terrorism. Thus, the government has put these people in state-sponsored camps under the name of “re-education camps”; where these people undergo forced labor in addition to the violation of their human rights. Moreover, Satellite images of these camps, from 2015 till 2012, show expansion of infrastructure.
Thus, the number of people under the oppression must be increasing; irrespective of the official government statics.
The list of bans that Chinese government has imposed in the Uyghur Muslims are as follows:
- Banned from practicing their religion openly and freely.
- Banned from speaking their language; which is a dialect of the Turkic language and is written in a Uyghur Perso-Arabic script.
- Banned from wearing their ethnic dress.
- Ban on religious fasting on Ramadan since 2017. In 2020-21 this ban was lifted and citizens above 65 were allowed to fast for Ramadan; however, the ban was reintroduced in full force last year when all ages were banned from observing this religious activity.
- Ban on religious education at all ages.
- Ban on religious ceremonies and practices.
Approximately 8500 mosques were destroyed, defaced, or demolished in China’s Xinjiang province to control the ‘rising extremist’ views and terror groups. The Uyghurs are the ‘forced labor’ in cotton fields and industries established in the Xinjiang province. They are equivalent to slaves with low or no pay in government farms and companies. The ethnic community is being slowly erased by the Chinese government.
How the World responds to the Uyghur Muslim Genocide
The USA has banned Xinjiang cotton imports under the ‘Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’ in 2022. This action was an attempt by the USA to not be complacent in the use of forced labor in the ‘re-education camps’ in China. The European Union, UK, and Canada have also banned imports from the Xinjiang region; they have instituted sanctions on Chinese imports in protest of the Chinese government’s policies against the Uyghur Muslims.
China denies the allegations of abuse of the Uyghur Muslims. The government states that the camps are facilities that are used to combat terrorism in the country. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt openly support China on their policies. They believe that the Chinese government can introduce measures to counter terrorism and extremism as appropriate.
Recently, the reports of widespread human rights abuses; including mass detentions, forced labor, cultural assimilation, and religious restrictions, have raised serious concerns about the well-being and rights of the Uyghur Muslim minority globally. Meanwhile the Chinese government denies the allegations of genocide, mounting evidence, survivor testimonies, and satellite imagery indicate a distressing reality. Therefore, the international community must prioritize the protection of human rights and conduct independent investigations to shed light on the situation. Upholding justice, advocating for human rights, and safeguarding the dignity of every individual should be at the forefront of this pressing issue.