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What’s Happening to Uyghurs in China?

You may already have heard about the situation in China with the Uyghur minority. I’m going to break it down for you. Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group recognized as native to Northwestern China. They’re in the autonomous Xinjiang region, which, like Tibet, is supposed to govern itself. However, that’s not true; both areas face significant restrictions from China.

Why are they the target?

In recent decades, the central government has been promoting migration to Xinjiang, so the Uyghurs feel they’re now a minority in their territory. The Chinese government claims militant Uyghurs are running a violent campaign to be an independent state. In response, China has detained more than 1 million Uyghurs in re-education camps due to what they now label as terrorism. 

Claims of mistreatment

While there haven’t been many stories about bombings or sabotage from militant Uyghurs, there have been countless claims of China’s mistreatment of this minority population. Insiders report some pretty nasty stuff, such as mass sterilization and separation of Uyghur children from their families. There’s also evidence of new textile factories being built on internment sites and detainees being forced to pick cotton. There are other claims that products made by forced Uyghur labor end up right here in America.

U.S. response

Before leaving office, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “I believe this genocide is ongoing and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.” Following in the United States’ footsteps, Canada now has voted to recognize China’s treatment of the Uyghur population as genocide.

This is not the first time

China has been under fire for persecuting a minority in the past. Back in 1999, the Chinese government abducted and detained thousands of Falun Gong practitioners. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice that involves slow movement, meditation and regulated breathing. China viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat because of its popularity, independence from the state and spiritual teachings. Hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong practitioners have been in prison, and many still are in detention and reportedly subject to forced labor, abuse, torture and other coercive thought-reform methods.

Should the U.S. do more?

Despite America’s denouncement of China’s detainment practices, they still are our number one economic partner. Check out your house; how many products have been made in China? So what do you think? Should the government be doing something more for the Uyghur minority? 

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