From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Uighurs
Mains level : Blatant human rights violations worldwide and lobbying against India
A leak of thousands of photos and official documents from China’s Xinjiang has shed new light on the atrocious methods used to enforce mass internment in the region.
See the hypocrisy of so-called liberals who see farmers protest, anti-terror operations as a crackdown on human rights. These fundamentalists (in India and across the border) perceived CAA, NRC as the end of the World.
Cases like that of Uighurs, Kurds, Shias in Pakistan go unnoticed in the global arena as if they were second class humans, with no right to exist!
What is the leak about?
- After initially denying their existence, Beijing has claimed the facilities are vocational training schools, attended voluntarily and aimed at stamping out religious extremism.
- But the leaked documents give an insight into how leaders saw the minority population as a security threat.
- Photos appear to show officers restraining hooded and shackled inmates with batons, while other guards wearing camouflage stand by with firearms.
Who are the Uighurs?
- There are about 12 million Uighurs, mostly Muslim, living in north-western China in the region of Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).
- The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
- They make up less than half of the Xinjiang population.
- In recent decades, there’s been a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) to Xinjiang, and the Uighurs feel their culture and livelihoods are under threat.
- In the early 20th Century, the Uighurs briefly declared independence, but the region was brought under complete control of mainland China’s new Communist government in 1949.
Where is Xinjiang?
- Xinjiang lies in the north-west of China and is the country’s biggest region.
- Like Tibet, it is autonomous, meaning – in theory – it has some powers of self-governance. But in practice, both face major restrictions by the central government.
- It is a mostly desert region, producing about a fifth of the world’s cotton.
- It is also rich in oil and natural gas and because of its proximity to Central Asia and Europe is seen by Beijing as an important trade link.
Try this PYQ:
Q.Very recently, in which of the following countries have lakhs of people either suffered from severe famine/acute malnutrition or died due to starvation caused by war/ethnic conflicts?
(a) Angola and Zambia
(b) Morocco and Tunisia
(c) Venezuela and Colombia
(d) Yemen and South Sudan
Post your answers here.
What was the build-up to the crackdown?
- Anti-Han and separatist sentiment rose in Xinjiang from the 1990s, flaring into violence on occasion.
- In 2009 some 200 people died in clashes in Xinjiang, which the Chinese blamed on Uighurs who want their own state.
- Xinjiang is now covered by a pervasive network of surveillance, including police, checkpoints, and cameras that scan everything from number plates to individual faces.
- According to Human Rights Watch, police are also using a mobile app to monitor peoples’ behaviour, such as how much electricity they are using and how often they use their front door.
- Since 2017 when President Xi Jinping issued an order saying all religions in China should be Chinese in orientation, there have been further crackdowns.
- China says the crackdown is necessary to prevent terrorism and root out Islamist extremism and the camps are an effective tool for re-educating inmates in its fight against terrorism.
- It insists that Uighur militants are waging a violent campaign for an independent state by plotting bombings, sabotage and civic unrest.
- China has dismissed claims it is trying to reduce the Uighur population through mass sterilizations as “baseless”, and says allegations of forced labour are “completely fabricated”.