Yes, the Uyghur genocide is still occurring

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Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group, mainly of the Muslim religion, located in the northwest region of China, known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Over the years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increased crackdown on Uyghurs, separating families, sterilizing women and forcing Uyghurs to conform to Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China. Photo courtesy of Policy Options.

Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group, mainly of the Muslim religion, located in the northwest region of China, known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Over the years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has increased crackdown on Uyghurs, separating families, sterilizing women and forcing Uyghurs to conform to Han Chinese, the main ethnic group of China, according to Tahir Imin, guest speaker and Uyghur activist in an event titled, “MSA Uyghur Awareness Art Contest,” at 7 p.m. through Zoom.  

“Our population according to Chinese official statistics: we have around 12 million population but we believe we have more than that because the Chinese government wants to erase us,” Imin said. “If there are reports less than our original population it will be easier for them to erase the rest of the population that they did not want to report.” 

“If there are reports less than our original population it will be easier for them to erase the rest of the population that they did not want to report.” 

Tahir Iman, Guest Speaker and Uyghur Activist

According to Imin, the Chinese occupation of XUAR dates back to the late Qing Dynasty (early 20th century) and was officially recognized as a part of China in 1949. Chinese people call the region “Xinjiang” which means “a new territory” in Chinese. Imin says Xinjiang is the name given by the Chinese government who colonized the land, but Uyghurs would like to call themselves  “East Turkistan” or “Uyghurstan.” 

The Soviet Union’s loss of control in the Turkic region during the late 1990s worried the CCP. They thought Uyghurs would demand independence even though there was no evidence of this according to Imin. Hence, the Chinese government strengthened its grip on Uyghurs. In 2015 CCP  used “soft language” to push out radical policies against Uyghurs.   

“China started another round of ethnic policy called Second Generation Ethnic Policy, which aims to assimilate all the ethnic minorities into Han Chinese majority,” Imin said. “This ethnic policy requires the Chinese government to change the identity of other ethnic groups into Han Chinese and create a new identity which is called National Race. That ideology brought a lot of radical extremist policies against minorities not only against Uyghurs but Tibetans and Mongols,” Imin said. 

“This ethnic policy requires the Chinese government to change the identity of other ethnic groups into Han Chinese and create a new identity which is called National Race. That ideology brought a lot of radical extremist policies against minorities not only against Uyghurs but Tibetans and Mongols.”

Tahir Iman, Guest Speaker and Uyghur Activist

This radical policy then evolved to the mass detention of Uyghurs in 2017. Uyghur women are forced to marry Han Chinese to create a new generation of Han Chinese identity and because there is an excess of Han Chinese men in China, according to Imin. He also added that Uyghur families are often separated and not allowed to speak the Uyghur language or eat Halal foods.  

“The children cannot have an Uyghur teacher and they are educated as patriotic Chinese,” Imin said. “Many documents, reports and facts we have been getting shows clearly that the Uyghur children have become more Chinese than ordinary Chinese: why? Ordinary Chinese don’t sing patriotic songs every day, ordinary Chinese don’t wear traditional Han Chinese clothes, ordinary Chinese don’t bow down [to] the statue of Confucius, ordinary Chinese don’t raise the flag of Chinese every day, but those Uyghurs do.” 

“Ordinary Chinese don’t sing patriotic songs every day, ordinary Chinese don’t wear traditional Han Chinese clothes, ordinary Chinese don’t bow down [to] the statue of Confucius, ordinary Chinese don’t raise the flag of Chinese every day, but those Uyghurs do.” 

Tahir Iman, Guest Speaker and Uyghur Activist

Imin explains while growing up he followed the Muslim religion in secret. He was also an entrepreneur in East Turkestan, translating books on Uyghur culture, educating Uyghurs on starting businesses and even supported Uyghur women pursuing graduate degrees. However, as crackdowns increased, Imin was imprisoned for his religious and political activism. He said he was imprisoned for two years and sent to an education camp for two more years where he was beaten, humiliated, discriminated and forced into labor with inhumane work hours. 

After he was released, Imin still faced threats from the CCP due to his activism. He later fled to Israel and then the U.S., leaving his family and daughter behind in East Turkistan. He doesn’t know their whereabouts currently but hopes to reunite with them through activism on the Uyghur genocide. Among other organizations, Imin founded Uyghur Times which is meant to bring awareness to the genocide.  

“Many Uyghurs, as many experts are warning, are at the brink of extinction. The Chinese government doesn’t use the mass killing murder as many other countries use against Rohingya or other countries,”

Tahir Iman, Guest Speaker and Uyghur Activist

Muslim Student Association’s art show featured over 17 different forms of artwork ranging from sketches to songs and poetry. The artworks shed light on the horrific genocide that is occurring in East Turkestan. Alimen Ali won first place for people’s choice during the art show for her piece titled, “The Silent Whispers of the Wind.” The piece featured red hands, symbolizing the CCP, covering the mouth of an Uyghur Muslim. Among UConn students, Mirghani Mohamed won first place with his sketch of Uyghur Muslims holding onto each other with the Uyghur statistics in the background and the CCP army on the bottom of the sketch. 

“Many Uyghurs, as many experts are warning, are at the brink of extinction. The Chinese government doesn’t use the mass killing murder as many other countries use against Rohingya or other countries,” Imin said.  “Chinese are using very sophisticated, technology advanced and ideologically, very strongly planned, methods to kill the spread; to kill the history; to kill the religion; to kill the identity; to kill the language; everything that makes you different from the Han Chinese majority,” Imin said. 

Ways to help: 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/12023238380/permalink/10158622346863381/

https://icnareliefcanada.ca/uyghur-relief

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