The Chinese Uyghur Genocide Explained

Since 2014, the Chinese government has been committing cultural genocide by the violation and abuse of human rights of the Uyghur people amongst various other ethnic and religious minorities in the western region of Xingjian, China. For over a decade, the unrest has not seized and, over the last year, efforts from Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands have publicly recognized the violence in China.

From China’s point of view, the Uyghur people are extremely problematic for three distinct reasons:

1) they are located in the signature region for the Belt and Road Initiative―a massive infrastructure project that focuses on pipelines, highways, and railways on the Silk Road that is projected to expand from East Asia to Europe to connect China with these countries;

2) the Uyghur’s high procreation is deemed as problematic for the Chinese State;

3) they represent a Muslim minority, which many have argued is at the source of discrimination from the Chinese government.

According to James Millward, a Georgetown University professor, “The ultimate goal, the ultimate issue is that the Chinese state is targeting the cultural practices and beliefs of Muslim groups.” He adds, “[The Chinese are] trying to expunge ethnonational characteristics from the people. They’re not trying to drive them out of the country; they’re trying to hold them in.” The Chinese Communist Party has detained between 1 million and 3 million Uyghurs in reeducation centers, also known as detention camps.

In these 321 camps, officials have claimed that there is the use of waterboarding and sexual abuse as forms of torture, amongst psychological indoctrination programs. Not only that, with high birth rates amongst the Uyghurs population, China is trying to curb the Muslim population by taking extreme measures such as forced birth control, forced use of intrauterine devices, forced sterilization, and forced abortion. As a result, families that have three or more children are sent to detention camps unless they can pay tremendous fines. The main reason that the Uyghur population is targeted is for their religious beliefs. The Chinese state believes that this population holds extremist Muslim views that are a threat to national security.

Last July, a letter was directed to the U.N. Human Rights Council explaining the disturbing actions that are happening within the four walls of Xingjian, China. With 193 U.N. members, 22 European countries responded to the reports, and 37 members―including Muslim majority countries such as Saudi-Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar―defended the reeducation camps stating that China has made “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.” Less than a week later, the United States condemned, alongside 30 other countries, the violent actions happening in Xingjian, China. These actions that were perpetrated by the Chinese state, more precisely the Chinese Communist Party, are horrific.

On January 19th, 2021, the United States was the first country to declare human rights abuses as genocide. Following this action, in February 2021, Canada’s House of Commons and the Dutch parliament signed a non-binding motion to support the U.S. in its claim that the Xingjian region is going through a silent genocide. As major leading countries, the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands took a step in the right direction to help the Uyghur population escape their violent reality.

The next steps for the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands to help the Uyghur people remains unclear, but these persuasive countries certainly need to stick together to help stop the silent genocide going on in Xingjian, China.

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