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CHINA: Uyghurs, a Forgotten Ethnic Group?

By Francesca Mele

Credits: The Conversation

Xinjiang, the region in the far northwest of China, is well-known to be home for various ethnic groups  as, just to name a few, Han, Kazakhs, Tibetans, Kyrgyz. It is an autonomous region of China where also an ethnic group called Uyghurs reside.

Muslims and Turkish speakers, Uyghurs are supposed to be under arrest in the so-called “vocational training centres”, which critics defined as internment camps.  It is believed that at least one million Uyghurs are detained here.

Beijing justifies it as measure taken in order to re-educate them and as a preventive tool against extremism and terrorism. Repression started when deadly ethnic clashes broke out and it was the starting point to set up a sweeping crackdown.

On 22nd December, a rally was held in Hong Kong to raise awareness on Uyghurs’ conditions, but it was stopped by the police as a group of protesters tried to burn a Chinese flag. Protesters waved Uyghurs’ flag and posters asking for freedom not only for Hong Kong itself, but also for this minority group.

International attention has been slowly drawn by NGOs and governments: earlier in this year Turkey broke its silence denouncing China for violation of minority groups rights; lately the US House of Representatives passed a bill, The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, to condemn China’s violation against Uyghurs and to demand Trump administration to shed light on conditions on the camps.  

  • How the bill is going to influence China-US relations?
  • What will happen to those detained?
  • Will the international community continue to put pressure on the Chinese government to ensure respect for human rights?

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