By: Jawahir Mohamed
An ethnic cleansing is currently happening in Xinjiang, China, yet it is kept undercover, ignored and dismissed because President Xi Jinping is in denial. Uyghur Muslims are a ehtnic group mostly living in Xinjiang, however their government does not see them as citizens, but rather as terrorists. Uyghur Muslims are reliving what Jews in the Holocaust went through in the concentration camps, having to be segregated from housing and public areas and more. Most concerning of all, the misleading propaganda told from President Xi Jinping is convincing citizens, and even world leaders, to be indifferent. Citizens of China don’t know the cruelty, abuse, and prejudice Uyghurs are going through because of a lack of information that is being controlled by the Chinese government. However, the people that do have the access to this information such as President Joe Biden are not open to helping out or stopping connections with China.
There have been leaked documents of the so called “vocational training centers” that have revealed a different story of torture, nationalism, and discrimination. Uyghurs are forced to convert into non religious chinese citizens, women are not allowed to wear the hijab, women are forced to shave their head, they are not allowed to speak their own language, and do not have basic human rights. Originally, the Chinese government had said these camps were fake lies, but it has now admitted that these camps were actually created specifically for Muslims. The government says that it is in the fight against the “three evils” of terrorism, extremism, and separtism. This gives the Uyghur Muslims a persona that they are dangerous human beings, when in reality the real danger is Xi Jinping.
This crime against humanity was not kept much of a secret due to what Maisumujiang Maimuer said; “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins. Completely shovel up the roots of ‘two-faced people,’ dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end”(Maisumujiang Maimuer). His blatant honesty about how he views Uyghur muslims shows that the government is trying to manipulate people to support the abuse Uygurs are going through.
This oppression happens outside of the concentration camps as well, where Uyghurs are being stopped and watched 24/7. They have no freedom even without being locked up, yet foreigners are not allowed to see this because of how hard it is to get into Xinjiang.
Relatives of the Uyghur Muslims that have been taken from the authorities into these camps have not been told about where their family members are, or any information regarding their well being. The insufficient information about their disappeared family member has led to the #MeTooUyghur on social media. These emerged individuals urged Chinese authorities to show proof of the state of their family members.
China has also pressured other countries to deport Uyghurs that have fled from China. For example, in 2015 Thailand deported more than one hundred Uyghurs, and in 2017 Egypt deported several Uyghur students back to China. ICIJ released documents showing that the Chinese government required officials to gather information from Uyghurs living abroad and once Uyghurs returned to China, they were to be detained and arrested.
Bloc accepted a legislation that punishes human rights abusers however, it has not been applied to Chinese officials yet. As more countries agree that China has taken part in crimes against humanity, this can lead to more foregin countries imposing sanctions against China. President Joe Biden referred to China’s abuse as a genocide while he was campaigning and in February, the Dutch and Canadian parliaments also created nonbinding notions that used the genocide label on China.
The United States had imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials from coming to America. They’ve also blacklisted more than two dozen Chinese companies that were related to the abuse in Xinjiang. Foreign governments have also regulated restrictions to address the forced labor Uyghurs have to go through in Xinjiang. The United Kingdom will issue fines to companies that have failed to regulate that their supply chains do not enforce forced labor and the United States has banned tomatoes and cotton from the region of Xinjiang.
China’s partners have been silent because they want to prioritize their economic relationship with each other, many governments have ignored the human rights abuses in China because of this. A group of mostly European countries, and no Muslim majority countries in July 2019 signed a letter to the United Nations condemning China’s actions in Xinjiang. Yet more than three dozen countries, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed their own letter congratulating and praising China’s “remarkable achievements” and their “counterterrorism” in Xinjiang.