In China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang resides the majority of the country’s Uighur population. One of China’s Muslim ethnic minority groups, the Uighurs make up approximately 45% of the population of Xinjiang province. For months, there have been speculations that the Chinese government has been illegally and inhumanely detaining tens of thousands of Muslim minorities, namely Uighurs, in internment camps and re-education centers where they are forced to swear allegiance to president Xi Jinping, among other methods of forced assimilation. Earlier this month, the United Nations released a statement that there is, in fact, credible information suggesting a state-sanctioned cultural genocide of the Chinese Uighurs currently occurring. The order to detain and re-educate these men, women, and children comes as an order from President Xi Jinping as an attempt to combat religious extremism, particularly Jihadism. Reports indicate that those held in the camps are poorly fed and subjected to torture. Outside of the camps, the activities of China’s Uighur population continue to be monitored heavily, and their rights continue to be restricted, with entry to public spaces such as trains and Chinese-Han-owned establishments such as many hotels and restaurants, being denied. Law enforcement officials continuously attempt to intersect communication between Uighur citizens and Muslims abroad, particularly in the Middle East, including family members. Students which return from studying abroad in Turkey and other Islamic majority countries often face detainment upon their return.
While the Xi Jinping administration denies all claims of such camps existing, there is enough information, including satellite images, and interviews with former detainees, suggesting that up to 2 million Uighurs and citizens belonging to other Muslim minority groups are being held in political camps. China’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva released a statement that the republic is on a path to achieving equal treatments and rights for all of its citizens regardless of ethnic groupings. However, the Chinese government has been exhibiting increasingly hostile behavior towards its Muslim minorities for quite some time now, with many attempts made to discourage them from practicing their religion. Though the majority of those affected have never been convicted of a crime, Uighurs living in Xinjiang are regularly subjected to police checkpoints and even DNA collections.
The United Nations has formed a special panel to investigate the status of human rights in China and is seeking to determine whether the government is committing gross violations of its citizens’ rights and freedoms, as well as its obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
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