The World Must Save the Uyghurs
  • Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:24

By Benedict Rogers
February 15, 2019

“Son, they are taking me.” Those were the last words 34-year-old Kuzzat Altay heard from his father, in a WeChat message almost exactly a year ago. His father, a 67-year-old Uyghur in Xinjiang, is believed to be among the estimated 1 million people forced into political prison camps, sometimes referred to as re-education camps, in China’s northwestern region, in the most severe crackdown on human rights since the Cultural Revolution.

“I don’t know if he is still alive,” Altay added. “None of my relatives now are outside the concentration camps.”

In the Uyghur cultural center Altay runs in the U.S. state of Virginia, he asked a gathering of 300 Uyghurs who has family members in the camps. Every single hand went up. “The main centers in our cities – our equivalent of New York’s Times Square or London’s Trafalgar Square – are empty,” he explained.

Claims that a million, perhaps as many as 3 million, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic groups have been rounded up and driven into these camps have been made by credible human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and accepted by the United Nations and others. Satellite images show the scale of the camps, and British diplomats visited Xinjiang in August last year and confirmed that reports are “broadly accurate.” The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has described Xinjiang as “a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of a no rights zone… [where] members of the Uyghur minority, along with others who are identified as Muslim, are being treated as enemies of the State based solely on their ethno-religious identity.”