Human Rights Issue of Uighurs of China

Dalvinder Singh Grewal

Human Rights Issue of Uighurs of China
Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal
According to a recent study by a German researcher, Chinese birth control policies could reduce the number of births among Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in southern Xinjiang by between 2.6 and 4.5 million in 20 years.
The Uighurs are a large ethnic group in China's north-western province of Xinjiang. Uighurs are about 8 million Turkish-Muslim living in backward Xinjiang. Xinjiang is a country of tribes, shepherds and nomads living in the vast expanses of sand, valleys and mountains in the north-western part of China. It shares borders with India, Pakistan and Central Asia. Major city is Kashgar. This area is not yet urbanised. Uighurs language is similar to Turkish. During the Ottoman Empire, Turkey's influence extended to West and Central Asia but they maintain distinct identity. They briefly declared independence and until 1947, as a separate country and part of Central Asia. China's new communist government took full control of it thereafter.
Chinese Uighurs culturally and ethnically considers themselves close to Central Asian countries. After the Chinese Revolution, as the Communists came to power, the persecution on the Uighurs who converted to Islam started at a large scale because the Communists did not believe in any religion while Uighurs were religious. In order to change the culture, Chinese resorted forced labour, reform education, population exchange, and severe punishments and imprisonment of non-communists.
Uighurs live in Xinjiang. Xinjiang is located in north-western China and is the country's largest region. Like Tibet, it is an autonomous province, meaning - in principle - it has some features of self-government. But the reality is that China's central government has imposed heavy sanctions on both Tibet and Xinjiang
Uighurs live mostly in the south of the state where there is not much agricultural production and no large farms. There are some large agricultural farms which are owned by China Hans. The ownership of the farms has been denied to the Uighurs. This has led to tensions between the Uighurs and the Han people. Xinjiang is mostly a desert region but in productive parts one-fifth of the world's cotton is grown here.
Human rights groups have expressed concern that much of the cotton exports are being looted from Uighurs by big industrialists and special Communist Party executives. In 2021, some Western cotton trade brands have refused to accept Xinjiang cotton because it is grown through forced labour. It has been strongly opposed by Chinese celebrities and brands of major companies.
In December 2020, a BBC study found that some five million people in Xinjiang were being forced to transport cotton. There is also evidence that new factories have been set up on the grounds of the research education camps. The region is also rich in oil and natural gas. Beijing sees it as an important trading hub but uses forced labour from Uighurs in the region s per report
Separatist sentiments have been on the rise in Xinjiang since the 1990s, at times escalating into violence between Hans ad Uighurs. Clashes in Xinjiang in 2009 killed at least 200 people. China blamed these on Uighurs who want self-rule. Dissent has been crushed by force.
Since 2017, when President Xi Jinping issued an order saying that the culture of all religions in China should be Chinese, more trouble came. Campaigners say China is trying to eradicate Uighur culture.
The leaks of documents known as China Cables made it clear that the camps were to be run as high-security prisons with strict discipline and punishment. People who have managed to escape from the camps have been subjected to physical, mental and sexual torture. Women have spoken of gang rape and sexual abuse. There is also evidence that Uighurs are being used as forced labour and women are being forcibly sterilized. Some former inmates have also alleged that they were tortured and sexually abused. China has also been accused of targeting Muslim religious figures and banning religious practices in the region, as well as demolishing mosques and tombs.
Xinjiang is now surrounded by a vast surveillance networks, including police, outposts, and cameras, which scan everything from number plates to individual faces. According to Human Rights Watch, police are also using a mobile app to monitor people's behaviour, such as how much electricity they are using and how often they use their front door
Many countries, including the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, have accused China of committing genocide. The announcements follow reports that in addition to encircling Uighurs in camps, China is forcing sterilizing on Uighur women to reduce the population, separate children from their families, and tries to break the group's cultural traditions. China denies all allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
The UN Human Rights Committee said in 2018 that it had received credible reports that China was holding one million people in "anti-terrorism centres" in Xinjiang. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in China, Michelle Bachelet, wrote to Xinjiang asking for permission to go to China for a "meaningful approach" for investigating the ground facts to confirm "serious" reports of human rights violations in the terrorist zone. But Beijing refused him to allow an investigation on June 22, 2021, saying "China would prefer a 'friendly meeting' rather than the possibility of being convicted. ' In his address to the 47th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on June 21, Bachelet said, “With reports of human rights abuses coming to light, I plan to confirm the facts on the ground. ”