Uyghurs . . . a Forgotten People

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Uyghurs . . . a Forgotten People

Federico Grullon, Staff Writer

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Uyghurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group in China predominantly centralized in Xinjiang province, bordering Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan. In 2014, the world was exposed to China’s plan of obliterating this ancient culture from the face of this Earth. Rebiya Kadeer “an exiled Uyghur leader” stated in a press conference in Tokyo, Japan that “at least 2,000 ethnic minority Uyghurs” were killed by Chinese security forces following riots in “a restive county in China’s western Xinjiang region, far more than reported by the state media.”

In addition to the slaughtering of innocent civilians, in the same year “Xinjiang government departments banned Muslim civil servants from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.” However, this was not the first time China had restricted fasting in Xinjiang. The Uyghurs regard themselves culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations, but Chinese authorities criminalized, “what they labeled ‘illegal religious’ and ‘separatist’ activities” and clamped down on “peaceful expressions of cultural identity” (bbc.com). 

Five years have passed since the UN and global media outlets have addressed the genocide occurring in China. For the past two years, more than a million Uyghurs have been living in camps described by the regional government as vocational training centers designed to “carry out anti-extremist ideological education.” Bu’ayixiemu Abulizi, Director of the Moyu County Vocational Education and Training Center in Hotan Prefecture, states that “If we leave the terrorism thoughts to be developed, it is very easy to have riots or other issues. We prevent this from happening,” Using Uygur’s Islamic faith as a tool for justifying the unjustifiable, the Chinese government has forcibly imprisoned and separated Uyghur families into these so-called reeducation camps. The purpose of these camps is to assimilate Uyghurs into traditional Han Chinese culture through lessons in Han culture, politics, language, and faith. Moreover, many accounts by Uyghur survivors/refugees have noted that Chinese authorities are sexually violating Uyghur women, “including stopping them from reproducing, has become a weapon for China against its Muslim population.”

6,000,000 Jews died at the hands of Nazi Germany for the world to join forces and prevent atrocities such as the Holocaust from happening again. Although the world united, vowing to never be silent at the face of genocide and human rights violations, we have sadly not learned from our past. In this modern era, it seems like political quotas and special interests have outweighed human morality. Every day our politicians tell us that change is coming, but they always seem to be late when tragedy strikes.

It doesn’t matter what religion or ethnic group you identify with to understand that this is unacceptable. Before our cultural identity we are human beings, members of the same species with blood running through our veins. Only as a united people can we stop China, a global superpower, and other communities from continuing to commit human rights violations. Change begins with education, a letter to local politicians, and acknowledging that these oppressed people exist. In a world fixed on destroying itself, it is up to us to shed some light. Will you stand back and watch?

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