The Transnational Oppression of Uyghur Chinese
Growing paranoia over terrorism by and radicalization of China’s Muslim Uyghur minority has led to the dramatic expansion of state surveillance activities in Xinjiang—where Uyghurs account for nearly half of the population—and abroad. Digital surveillance, travel restrictions, indefinite detention, “reeducation” camps, and the exploitation of intra-community and transnational relationships have dramatically expanded the crackdown on ethnic minorities perceived as threats to the integrity of the state. After fleeing China, Uyghur emigrants find themselves and their families (some of whom remain in China) subject to harassment by Chinese security forces in places as far flung as Istanbul and Washington, D.C. BuzzFeed News and The Globe and Mail have profiled a number of Uyghur Chinese in exile and the oppressive conditions they and their families face, including high levels of distrust and fear of advocacy.
“Spy For Us — Or Never Speak To Your Family Again” (BuzzFeed News | July 2018)
“How China is targeting its Uyghur ethnic minority abroad” (The Globe and Mail | October 2017)
“‘It is about Xi as the leader of the world’: Former detainees recount abuse in Chinese re-education centres” (The Globe and Mail | July 2018)
“One in 10 Uyghur Residents of Xinjiang Township Jailed or Detained in ‘Re-Education Camp’” (Radio Free Asia | June 2018)
Uyghur Human Rights Project
Uyghur activist wins prestigious human rights award
- Chinese scholar Ilham Tohti, famed as a moderate bridge between Uyghur and Han Chinese cultures, was awarded the Martin Ennals Award, a human rights prize awarded by a jury including representatives from organizations such as Amnesty International.
- Tohti is a prominent advocate for Uyghur rights and visibility, including drawing attention to the oppression of Uyghurs by the Chinese government in Xinjiang.
- The Chinese government sentenced Tohti to life in prison in 2014, accusing him of ties to terrorism and promoting dissidence in the country.
Ilham Tohti 2016 Martin Ennals Award Laureate for Human Rights Defenders (Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders)
“Ilham Tohti, Uighur imprisoned for life by China, wins major human rights prize” (The Guardian)
“Chinese Uighur wins prestigious rights award” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: Andy Wong/AP, via The Guardian)
French journalist denied credentials, expelled from China following controversial article
- China’s foreign ministry refused to renew the press credentials of Ursula Gauthier, a reporter for the French magazine L’Obs, following a controversial article crticizing China’s anti-terrorism policies in Xinjiang.
- Chinese officials accused her of sympathizing with terrorists and demanded a public apology from her, which lead to the credential revocation when she refused.
- Although China’s domestic press is heavily regulated, foreign press have typically had considerably more freedom to report on controversial topics, with the last foreign reporter expelled in 2012.
“Plane carrying expelled French reporter leaves China” (France 24)
“French journalist forced to leave China after article on troubled Xinjiang” (Reuters)
“French media denounce expulsion of straight talking China correspondent” (RFI)
(Image Credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)
Uyghurs face ban on Muslim names for children as China celebrates Xinjiang’s 60th anniversary
- The Tokhola (Tuohula) Village Communist Party in Xinjiang’s Hoten prefecture reportedly announced the ban on 22 popular Muslim names for Uyghur children.
- Children whose names are on the list must have their parents officially change their name or else risk exclusion from public schooling.
- The announcement comes as China celebrates the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region following the 1949 annexation of East Turkestan, which has prompted severe criticism from Uyghur leaders.
“Chinese Authorities Ban Muslim Names Among Uyghurs in Hoten” (Radio Free Asia)
Statement by the World Uyghur Congress
(Image Credit: Sina Webo via Radio Free Asia)
China includes ethnic Han for first time in national multicultural athletic festival
- The National Traditional Games for Ethnic Minorities opened on Sunday, with 6,240 athletes from 31 provinces and ethnic groups competing in traditional sports.
- Han participants were allowed for the first time limited participation with ethnic minorities including Huis, Zhuangs, Uyghurs, Yis, and Miaos and representation from Mongolia, Tibet, and Taiwan.
- The 17 competitive events in the quadrennial festival include camel ball, bamboo drifting, dragon boat racing, and stilt-running.
Read the full story at the South China Morning Post.
(Image Credit: Xinhua News Agency, via the South China Morning Post)
More than 170 Uyghurs resettled in Turkey following release from Thai detention camp
- The 173 released–all Uyghur women and children–had been detained for more than a year by Thai immigration authorities.
- The group is a part of a wave of ethnic Uyghurs fleeing their homeland in northwestern China because of the government’s crackdown on their culture and activities.
- Those seeking exit from China rely on underground networks that take them through southeast Asia, where Thailand is a major node in smuggling routes.
“China deprives them of their human dignity, their human rights, and religious freedom in every possible way, so they head to Turkey to live like human beings.”
Read the full story at Radio Free Asia.
(Image Credit: Radio Free Asia)
Istanbul Chinese restaurant attacked during demonstrations against China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims
- Despite being owned by a Turkish man and employing a Uyghur cook, Happy China became a target of protesters’ anger.
- The owner said that he will be closing the restaurant, which he opened after saving money for 25 years as a tour guide.
“Our customers are Indonesian Muslims in general. We work with Far East Asian people. Only a tiny portion of our customers are made up of Chinese customers. We do not serve alcoholic drinks. Although we work with Muslims, an attack like this has occurred.”
Read the full story at the Hurriyet Daily News.
(Image Credit: DHA photo, via the Hurriyet Daily News)