Uyghurs and China

This article is also available in: Italiano

On the Day of Remembrance, we tell you about a cultural genocide, unfortunately still taking place today. We are talking about the situation of Uyghurs in China, more than 1 million of whom are locked up in “re-education camps”.


The Uyghurs are a population of Turkish origin who have lived in Xinjiang for centuries, succeeding the Göktürk as masters of the region. Thanks to their geographical position, they often acted as intermediary for exchanges between the Middle and Far East, inheriting Islam as a religion. Over the centuries this people has always been semi-dependent on China, alternating periods of freedom with others of real dependence. Uyghurs

The first forms of real “Uyghur independence” however begin with the fall of the Qing empire and the subsequent transition from the Republic of China to the People’s Republic of China. In this period there were the first motions for the foundation of their state, ideally called “Republic of East Turkestan”; however, projects were wrecked with the arrival of Mao who united everyone under a single republic.

A difficult coexistence

For a long time Han and Uighurs lived together under the rules of this new state, also managing to find a relative balance between state ideology and local culture. However, things began to precipitate following the liberalization of the Chinese market which, inevitably, favored the Han, the majority ethnic group of the nation. This has meant that a form of conflict grew more and more between the Uighurs and the Chinese, also fomented by some state measures in favor of minorities. All this has meant that the roots of the respective ethnic groups are increasingly rekindled, laying the foundations for very harsh measures. Uyghurs

The uprising in Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 5, 2009 was the very beginning of hell. As a result of those clashes 197 people lost their lives and 1500 ended up in jail, starting the crisis of today.

Forced re-education

Following some attacks by Uyghur fundamentalists, in 2016 the government sent Chen Quanguo to the region, renowned in the country for solving the “problem” of minorities in Tibet. In a very short time, new “re-education” centers were built in the region, aimed at “solving” the region’s problem once and for all.

Chen Quanguo

These camps have been openly criticized by every human rights association for purpose and brutality. In fact, it is estimated that more than 1 million Uighurs and Muslims are locked up in these structures, forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. The detainees are also forced to follow strict programs of indoctrination to Chinese ideology and culture, torture is destined for those who refuse. Outside of these prison camps, the government then imposed a strict surveillance system, which affects the life of every citizen in the region.

Chinese friend

In fact, Uyghur families are obliged to have a Han Chinese at home, officially to help them with housework but, de facto, to ensure the “goodness” of the family. Furthermore, this people is not allowed to: buy books related to their culture, grow a beard, own a carpet to pray and quit smoking.

Re-education camp for Uyghurs in 2018

An unreal and dramatic situation that China has only recently admitted to exist. According to the Beijing government, in fact, they are not prison camps, but places in which to fight the Islamic fundamentalism of those places. Journalists and associations from all over the world, however, agree that this is a real cultural genocide, carried out to “Chineseise” forever a region that has always been problematic for China.

We leave you the link of the BBC report. Follow us on our facebook, YouTube and Instagram page, every like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East.

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