Uighurs, also spelled as Uyghurs, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a group that originates from and is culturally united with the widespread region of East Asia. They have their own language and view themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations. They are one of China’s 55 official acknowledged ethnic minorities. There are approximately 12 million—primarily Muslim—Uighurs living along North western China in the region of Xinjiang. This area is also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and is the country’s largest territory. It is mainly a desert region used for cotton, but it's home to massive coal and natural gas reserves. 1 in 5 cotton garments are produced by forced Uighur labor. China manufactured 22% of the world’s cotton in 2019/20 and 84% of that cotton came from the Uighur terrain. Those managing the Uighur region are profiting from human rights violations such as: forced labor, poverty-stricken working conditions, little to no pay, and lengthy days of 12-15 hours. Over time the Han Chinese relocated to Xinjiang but the Uighurs feel as if their culture and existence are under threat. In the 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly proclaimed independence, but the terrain was brought under the complete control of China’s new Communist government in 1949.
What allegations have been made?
Various allegations have been made against China accusing them of committing mass genocide. There have been numerous reports of compulsory mass sterilization and cleansing of Uighur women to diminish the population and the separation of Uighur children and their families. China is also being criticized for their human rights violations. Many human rights groups have said that the Chinese government has slowly stripped away the rights of the Uighurs.
Xinjiang internment camps, also known as Xinjiang Vocational Education and Training centers, are managed by the Chinese government. These internment camps are required and insisted on by China. Human right groups have said that at least one million people have been incarcerated and imprisoned in these camps. China claims these camps exist for “re-education”. There are an estimated 3 million Uighurs in education camps. The Chinese Communist Party says the purpose of these camps is to put a stop to terrorism. Chinese administrators are worried and anxious that Uighurs hold fanatic and separatist ideas, and that they view the camps as a way of abolishing threats to China’s government and population. The people in these camps suffer prison-like conditions with constant surveillance. Many, mainly females, have been tortured, abused, and even raped. Some have committed suicide. Parents who are dispatched to these camps are split up from their children and are unable to contact them.
What does China have to say about this?
Chinese officials have stated these reports are false and untrue. They claim it’s necessary to prevent terrorism and root out Islamist extremists. They have even stated that the camps are an effective tool for re-educating residents in their fight against terrorism. China has dismissed claims that they were trying to decrease the Uighur population through mass sterilization. They state that the camp was to teach Mandarin, Chinese laws, and vocational skills and to stifle the influence of extremist ideas upon their citizens. Xinjiang has not experienced a terrorist attack since 2016, and they assert the camps have prevented violence. Their government has only withstood international coercion to authorize forign examiners to openly tour the terrain. They say anything happening inside Xinjiang is an inner issue.
Human rights organizations, United Nations officials, and countless other foriegn governments are insisting China to stop this abuse. The United States has described this as a genocide. Please educate yourself on what's happening.