China has been accused of committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Uyghur population and other mostly-Muslim ethnic groups in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
Human rights organisations assert that China has imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs over the past few years in a vast network of facilities it refers to as “re-education camps” against their will.
Detailing China’s usage of detention camps, a series of police files seized in 2022 highlighted the regular use of armed cops and the existence of a shoot-to-kill policy for individuals attempting to flee.
Several nations, including the US, have already charged China with carrying out a genocide in Xinjiang. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, two of the top human rights organisations, have released reports accusing China of crimes against humanity.
All claims of violations of human rights in Xinjiang are refuted by China. The Chinese government claimed that the calm and prosperity delivered to Xinjiang as a result of its anti-terrorism actions were the best response to “all sorts of lies” in a statement made after the publication of the Xinjiang Police Files’ details.
The Uyghurs: who are they?
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), sometimes known as Xinjiang, is home to around 12 million Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Muslims.
The Uyghurs identify as being of Central Asian ethnicity and culture and speak a language that is related to Turkish. Less than half of the people in Xinjiang are from them.
Han Chinese, the ethnic majority in China, have reportedly been migrating in large numbers into Xinjiang over the past few decades in an effort to swell the region’s minority population.
In addition, China has been charged with destroying mosques and graves, targeting Muslim religious leaders, outlawing some religious practises in the area.
Uyghur activists claim they worry about the eradication of the group’s culture.
What city is Xinjiang?
China’s largest region, Xinjiang, is located in its northwest. It is autonomous, just as Tibet, which theoretically gives it some self-governing abilities. But in reality, the central government imposes significant restrictions on both regions.
A fifth of the cotton in the world is produced in Xinjiang, which is primarily a desert area. Human rights organisations have expressed concern that a sizable portion of the cotton export is harvested using forced labour. In 2021, some Western firms pulled Xinjiang cotton from their supply chains, which sparked a backlash from Chinese celebrities and internet users against the brands.
According Chinese study, up to 500,000 individuals in Xinjiang were being compelled to pick cotton as of December 2020. There is proof that new factories have been constructed on the re-education centres’ property.
The area is also abundant in oil and natural gas, and Beijing views it as a key trading route due to its proximity to Central Asia and Europe.
The Uyghurs temporarily proclaimed the area independent in the early 20th century, but in 1949 the new Communist government of China took full control of it.