The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was once dominated by Turkic-speaking Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, and other minorities that share similar cultural and religious values with central Asian countries. However, China’s war on terror policy, 'Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism' in 2014 resulted in the systemic persecution of Uyghurs and other minorities.
The persecution began with socio-economic discrimination of the Uyghurs. The state then blamed the minorities for preaching extremism and terrorism, resulting in enacting the 'Regulation on De-extremification' (2017). Through this, the government regulated, monitored, and tracked the dissemination of information, prohibited religious gears, and forced ethnic groups to learn Chinese culture and Socialistic values.
Now, East Turkestan resembles 'a massive prison' with an estimated 1 million Uyghur Muslims being arbitrarily detained. This region is considered a 'no-rights zone' where Uyghurs are unlawfully deprived of their personal freedom. These camps are known as 'De-extremification re-education centres' where Uyghurs, according to the government, receive vocational training facilities because the 'religious viruses' infect them. Lately, a plethora of leaked evidence, such as an operation manual, called a 'Telegram,' containing the instructions on managing these camps, shows that the government is subjecting Uyghurs to political indoctrination. Also, under the 'big data program,' people flagged by the system as potential terrorists are sent to these camps without giving them a fair trial.
Another set of leaked documents claims facial recognition cameras all over Xinjiang. Also, "The China Cables", a nine-page memo was sent out in 2017 by Zhu Hailun, then deputy-secretary of Xinjiang's Communist Party and the region's top security official, to those who run the camps. The documents reveal how every aspect of a detainee's life is monitored and controlled.
Uyghur persecution is one of the worst crimes against humanity. Join us on Thursday (24.02) for a webinar on this topic, and let's #RethinkUyghurs together.