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)
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)
Attack on traffic stop amidst Ramadan tensions leaves at least 18 dead in southwest Xinjiang in China
- In the Tahtakoruk district of Kashgar (Kashi), suspects attacked unarmed traffic police with a vehicle, knives, and explosives, leading to three officers’ deaths and injuring at least four others.
- Armed backup arrived and reportedly killed 15 suspects, though the exact number of dead was unclear in the confusion of the aftermath.
- The violent incident occurs as tensions have increased in Xinjiang between the government and the autonomous region’s Muslim Uyghur population over Ramadan, with government restrictions on participation in activities for the holy month having angered citizens.
Read the full story at Radio Free Asia.
Beer festival in Muslim-majority region of China angers exiled leaders
- The centerpiece of the festival, held in Niya County in Xinjiang, was a drinking competition that offered monetary prizes to the winners among the 60 attendees from the largely agricultural community.
- The local government–with regional backing–promoted the event in the run-up to Ramadan, and with Quranic prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol, Muslim leaders from the exiled World Uyghur Congress considered the event a deliberate provocation.
- The Communist Party allows restricted freedom of religion only for recognized groups, and fears of extremism have led to crackdowns on activity in Muslim communities, of which ethnic Uyghur communities form a part.
Read the full story at Reuters.