Wajahat Farooq Bhat
Uighurs are an ethnic group recognized as natives to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. Around 11 million Uighurs live there in Xinjiang province. They find themselves very close to Central Asian Countries, they are culturally, traditionally, and ethnically very close to each other. Their mother tongue is “Uighur” which is very similar to the Turkish language. It is China’s officially recognized ethnic minority group. But China at the same time consider them a dangerous group for its national security. Uighurs mostly are Muslims. Uighur ethnic groups cannot be found in China only, but they are natives countries like Turkey, Russia, Australia, Uzbekistan, etc. Their numbers vary on a large scale in different countries.
Almost one million Uighur Muslims have been detained over the past few years by the Chinese government. Detainees are put up in camps which the government describes as a “reeducation camp” to curb the growth of extremism, terrorism in China.
China justifies violence against the Uighur minority by putting forth the fantasy discourse that they educate Uighurs in these camps.
Basically in these camps, Uighurs are forced to renounce their religious beliefs and accept the ideology of the Communist Party of China.
Journalists almost don’t have access to these “re-education camps”, because they are not allowed to visit such places. The Chinese government claimed that these camps are basically for educational and training purposes for Uighur people especially and call these camps “vocational training centers”. But it was seen and reported as that these camps are torture camps where Uighur people are punished for various things like maintaining ties with family abroad, practicing their beliefs, engaging in religious practices, etc. To make it clear, these are detention camps to counter the ‘extremism’
of Uighurs altogether.
These camps have high security, rigid rules, and hard punishment for detainees. Detainees are forced to talk in the Mandarin language despite their Uighur language (Uighur).
They remain under surveillance all the time in these camps. Detainees are recurrently insisted to imbibe and memorize the Communist Party propaganda.
One can say that these are the camps to wash the brains of Uighurs to renounce whatever they uphold and accept whatever they have been forced to adopt.
Detainees are being acknowledged for their change in ideologies, adopting the Mandarin language, and maintaining discipline in camps. They are only released once Communist party communities observe detainees’ transformation level.
Uighurs are suffering from the year in which China’s Communist Party came into power in 1949.
However, extreme violence started in their lives from the year 2016. Chinese ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming said “The region now enjoys social stability and unity among ethnic groups. People there are living a happy life with a much stronger sense of fulfillment and security.”
With so much evidence of Human Rights violations of Uighurs, the international community watching it as mute spectators.
It is not in the interest of most countries of the world to denounce China for their actions. Even Muslim majority countries remain silent over this issue, many of them like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan rely on China’s investments and loans. Whether Muslims live in China or any other part of the world they share the same faith, so if Pakistan is standing always behind the Kashmir issue then why didn’t stand and speak for Uighur Muslims, The hypocrisy of Pakistan in this matter is exposing them. On the one hand, the country is ready to go into the war with India over Kashmir but on the other hand, it never mouthed a word about the tragedies of Uighur Muslims keeps in mind the benefits.
China Director, Human Right watch Sophie Richardson says “many States that are financially dependent on China and are willing to join Chinese efforts to say, everything in Xinjiang is fine”.
The violation of the Human Rights of the Uigher group by the Chinese regime is gaining a lot of international attention. European Parliament has also called for resolution of the matter as soon as possible.
The diasporic Uighur community is facing a lot of challenges, there is a lot of pressure the Chinese regime has maintained over them. They are not able to speak for their community, if they do so they are being threatened by the regime. Whoever dares to raise a voice, immediately their family members and relatives are being detained and tortured in China.
Jewher Ilham is the daughter of imprisoned Uighur academic Ilham Tohti. DW asked her about the newly leaked “Karakax List”, which records the fate of 311 detainees who were sent off to “reeducation camps” in China.
Jewel Ilham said that a lot of the information that was revealed on the list did not surprise me.” I have heard most of the information from camp survivors and was aware of the horrific situation.
The Chinese government wanted to get rid of this Uighur ethnic group as soon as possible. They want to vanish their culture, language, ideologies whatever they uphold. This minority ethnic group is seen as a threat to the national security of China.
(The writer is a Social & Political Activist from Baramulla.)