Uighur leaders warn China’s actions could be ‘precursors to genocide’

Campaign group urges foreign governments to halt ‘business as usual’ relations with Beijing until action is taken

Kate Lyons

Fri 7 Dec 2018 01.35 GMTLast modified on Fri 7 Dec 2018 01.37 GMT


A gate of what is officially known as a ‘vocational skills education centre’ in Dabancheng, in Xinjiang
 A gate of what is officially known as a ‘vocational skills education centre’ in Dabancheng, in Xinjiang Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Uighur leaders have called on democratic governments to confront Chinaover its treatment of ethnic minority Uighur Muslims, saying the government’s actions against the ethnic minority group are “precursors to genocide”.

On a visit to Australia, leaders of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), based in Washington, said governments, businesses, academics and thinktanks all had a responsibility to stop “business as usual” relations with China.

They also warned of China’s “extra-territorial reach”, which saw coercion and threats against Australian Uighurs, who were unable to escape the reach of the Chinese state.

“It’s time for action, something horrific is happening on our watch,” said Nury Turkel, chair of the board for the UHRP.

‘A community in unbelievable pain’: the terror and sorrow of Australia’s Uighurs

 Read more

An estimated one million Muslims are being held in detention camps in Xinjiang by the Chinese government as part of a sweeping crackdown on the rights of the minority group.

The authorities in Beijing call the camps “vocational training centres”, saying those detained within them are taught language, culture and vocational skills. In August, the UN called for the immediate release of people from the camps, saying they had received many credible reports that a million ethnic Uighurs were held in what resembled a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.

‘Mass murder cannot be ruled out’


Turkel cited James Millward, a historian at Georgetown University, who called cultural cleansing of Uighurs “Beijing’s attempt to find a final solution to the Xinjiang problem”. Turkel said: “those of us who are students of history know what that means. We’ve seen how it ends when a government or an authoritarian leader promotes that sort of ideology”, saying the Communist party of China had likened Uighurs to “a cancerous tumour”.

Asked whether he thought the Holocaust was the best historical comparison for the situation in Xinjiang, Turkel said: “The Chinese have not publicly shown any sign of gassing Uighurs” but that the few reports coming out of the camps suggested people were dying inside them. He added: “We may see mass murder.”

Louisa Greve, director for external affairs for the UHRP, said: “Academics believe that when you look at the progression of policies that dehumanise ethnic groups, you have to say that mass murder cannot be ruled out. We see many, many of the precursors of cultural and possibly physical genocide.”

Thomas Cliff, research fellow at the ANU college of Asia and the Pacific said what was going on in Xinjiang was “a form of genocide, although it’s not killing everybody”.

“The objective seems to be to wipe out all traces of what’s distinct about being a Uighur,” he said. Some people are coming out of the camps and saying ‘kill me, I don’t want to bear this anymore’,” he said.

Greve said government action needed to be taken in response to the repression of Uighurs, which included forcible separation of children from their parents, reports of forced marriage between Uighurs and Han Chinese, and the banning of Uighur language and culture.

 China’s mass incarceration of Muslims cannot be left unchallenged

Timothy Grose Read more

Greve said Uighurs, including herself and fellow panellists, had received threats and coercion from the Chinese government to infiltrate or spy upon members of the Uighur community in the US and had been threatened with reprisals against their families in China if they didn’t stop their activism.

Australian Uighurs told the Guardian of China’s extra-territorial reach, with one woman saying she believed a Chinese spy came to her business in Sydney where he quizzed her about her political views, her opinion on the situation in Xinjiang and the ethnicity of her employees. Another Australian permanent resident said she is required by Chinese police to take a photo of herself holding her passport and the day’s paper and send it to them every few weeks.Advertisement

Sultan Hiwilla, a prominent Australia-Uighur activist based in Sydney, said he had not been able to speak to his family in Xinjiang since 2014 and does not know what has happened to them, but a message reached him a few months ago through a friend telling him to stop his activism because it was affecting his family.

But he said he could not stop his work: “It’s not only affecting my family it’s affecting all Uighur people, if I stop, it will keep going, some one needs to make this sacrifice.”

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Three years ago we set out to make The Guardian sustainable by deepening our relationship with our readers. The same technologies that connected us with a global audience had also shifted advertising revenues away from news publishers. We decided to seek an approach that would allow us to keep our journalism open and accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

More than one million readers have now supported our independent, investigative journalism through contributions, membership or subscriptions, which has played such an important part in helping The Guardian overcome a perilous financial situation globally. We want to thank you for all of your support. But we have to maintain and build on that support for every year to come.

Sustained support from our readers enables us to continue pursuing difficult stories in challenging times of political upheaval, when factual reporting has never been more critical. The Guardian is editorially independent – our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. Readers’ support means we can continue bringing The Guardian’s independent journalism to the world.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as £1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.


About Republic Of Uyghuristan
Official Website of Uyghuristan Republic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: