The Uyghur Muslims are a minority ethnic group native to Central and East Asia, and are considered by China as one of their 55 officially recognised ethnic minorities, making up a population of roughly 11 million in Western China. In recent times, there has been increasing coverage and notice concerning the treatment of Uyghurs in concentration style camps, which has been occurring largely under the global radar since 2015. From what little information is known, over one million Uyghurs are estimated to have been detained in these camps, in what is being referred to as a process of ‘Sinicization’ – the process whereby a non-Han Chinese society is forced to adopt Han Chinese culture and customs. This has resulted in what is essentially the cultural genocide of Uyghur Muslims. According to a range of sources, Uyghurs are being coerced into denouncing their religion and simultaneously taking up the learning of Mandarin while in these camps.
The camps are located in a region called Xinjiang, which is an autonomous region, in the northwest of China, historically home to ethnic minority groups such as the Uyghurs. The area is known as an autonomous region. This autonomy allows regions increased legislative power – regardless of this they are not allowed complete independence from government agendas. Video footage and witness accounts have detailed the physical torture and mental abuse of human rights occurring underneath the Chinese government with examples of gang rape, medical experimentation, and the forced consumption of pork and alcohol.
Amidst growing criticism, the Chinese Government have denounced claims of possible concentration camps, instead referring to the presence of camps for “vocational training” within the Xinjiang region. Despite the evidence and survivor statements, more than 30 UN countries including Russia and Belarus have stated their support for China, meanwhile a mere 22 UN nations including the UK, Germany and France condemned the mass detainment of populations within the Xinjiang region. This reaction towards China was initially met with barely veiled threats from China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, who has stated that interference from other countries is unwanted, and could result in trade failures and blocks.
JAN Trust, as a charity whose work centres on providing support and provisions to ethnic and BAME minority communities, supports the UK’s position in criticising China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims. JAN Trust advocates the spreading of awareness of the situation as well as the further condemnation of all human rights abuses.