Uighurs Victims of the Economic Interests of the States
  • Fri, 11/30/2018 - 00:00

By Dr Fatima-Zohra Er-Rafia
November 29, 2018

In recent months, the Uighur minority of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has been a regular feature of the mainstream Western media. Prevented from practicing their religion, Islam, subjected to massive and regular disappearances, the imprisonment of professors and academics, forced abortions; these are just some examples of the fate suffered by the Uighurs at the hands of the Chinese state apparatus.

How did this situation develop?

July 2009 – Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, experienced a series of protests and clashes between Han (majority population of China) and Uighur residents following the Shaoguan incident (allegations of the rape of two Han women by six Uighur men) that took place a few thousand kilometers away in the coastal region of Guangdong. These demonstrations turned into an ethnic brawl between the ‘conquering invader’ Han and the local Uighurs. With nearly 200 dead, more than 1,500 people arrested and more than 400 later indicted, Xinjiang became once again the center of global media attention after the enforced calm that followed the aftermath of the 1997 Ghulja massacre when 30 separatist activists were executed and a violent crackdown attempted to stamp out efforts to revive traditional Uighur culture.

Between 2009 and 2017, incidents of greater or lesser importance occurred regularly and the Chinese repression of the Uighurs and restrictions on their freedoms continued to grow until the noose was so tight that the rumour mills began to intensify in 2018, decrying the continuous massive disappearance of Uighurs and the presence of multiple prisons. After months of denial, China has finally admitted to holding massive numbers of Uighurs in re-education camps. China later changed its story on many occasions, despite the UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination’s review, continuing choruses of alarms from Human Rights Watch, and the growing number of testimonies by survivors and their families.