Uighur Muslims: One of the Most Neglected and Abused Populations You’ve Never Heard About

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019


As the media fulminates over how many redactions are in the Mueller Report, or whether criticizing the extremism of freshmen representatives such as Ilhan Omar is an incitement to violence, the world continues to turn. Groups of people in multiple countries suffer brutal oppression which mainstream sources seem all too clueless about.

One such group are the Uighur Muslims. If you just said to yourself, “What the heck is a Uighur Muslim,” don’t feel too badly. The American media has left this group criminally underrepresented.

The Uighur Muslims are an ethnic people of around 11.3 million that mostly inhabit the Xinjiang region of China. Recently, Chinese authorities have cracked down on the Uighurs due to, according to the Chinese government, suspected extremist activities of the broader community.

The Chinese government has long been wary of the Uighur population. After claiming Xinjiang in 1949, the Uighurs were a vast ethnic majority in the region. However, as the Han Chinese migrated to the area for opportunities the resource-rich Xinjiang provided, and as the Han majority Chinese government exerted authority over the region which often disadvantaged and oppressed Uighur Muslims, ethnic tensions spiked.

This tension came to a head in 2009, when protests and riots broke out across some of Xinjiang’s most populated cities. Most notable among these was the Urumqi riot, a clash which caused the death of 200 people.

The Chinese government took the opportunity to blame the supposedly radical Uighur population for the riots, along with alleged violent and extreme separatist groups, which the Chinese government falsely claimed had a strong foothold in the Uighur community.

In 2017, using previous riots and terror attacks such as the 2015 Kunming train station stabbing attack as an excuse, the Chinese government amped up their efforts to crack down on the Uighurs.

Over the past two years, the Chinese government has introduced a surveillance apparatus in the Xinjiang region more intense than in most other regions of China. According to sources, the movements of around 2.5 million Uighur Muslims in the region are being tracked in an effort to suppress the group. More horrifying than this is that between 1-2 million Uighur Muslims have been forced into camps (State Department and UN estimates differ).

While the Chinese government claims individuals voluntarily enter these facilities and that the camps are merely for the purpose of combating extremism and aiding in economic development, this is heavily contested by former prisoners, who claim they were forced to study Communist Propaganda, give thanks to President Xi Jinping, and undergo other forms of reeducation.

Among these activities, former prisoners have also shared stories of torture and death within the camps, including the use of waterboarding and a contraption called the ‘Tiger Chair,’ in which prisoners are tied to a five-foot long board where bricks are placed under the victim’s legs, bending them in an unnatural upward position. Bricks are then added until the prisoner reaches a breaking point, which can sometimes be quite literal in the event their bones snap.

Beyond the camps, there have been several reports that Uighurs, under threat of being sent to the camps, have been forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, celebrate Chinese holidays instead of their traditionally held festivals, and watch state-run television. The Chinese government has also banned “abnormally” long beards and wearing veils in public (in some cases, authorities have forcibly cut these veils). Most heart-breaking among all of these, however, is that Uighur children have been involuntarily sent to government-run orphanages, despite their parents being alive and well.

As the Chinese government embarks on its mission to destroy a culture and separate families, what has the media been doing? Covering Trump’s tweet in which he calls the Mueller Investigation a witch hunt.

The global community, including the US, despite China’s economic clout, has finally started responding to these atrocities. If we, as a country, continue to remain in the dark about China’s nefarious activities, we could very well find ourselves— as individuals and as a nation— being complicit in the oppression of the Uighurs through our support of certain Chinese businesses and industries. Some of us already are.

Just five to ten minutes of coverage by the media on primetime television could make a world of difference. It could help a populous spur its government toward needed action and possible sanctions by preventing investment which only aids the Chinese government in their sick practices.

Instead, the media decides to be petty, using its power to inform to turn us against each other and strengthen partisan hatred.

Americans must hold their outlets to a higher standard; one in which they are made to cover the serious news of the world as much as the petty drama at home. If we do not, we leave ourselves vulnerable to ignorance and become guilty of complicity.

 

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Eric Shaffer is an author, contributor to various outlets and host of The Shaffer Hour. Eric values intellectual honesty and truth above all else in politics and reporting. As a conservative, Eric spreads a message of logical thought and reason in the political realm.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Eric Shaffer

Eric Shaffer is an author, contributor to various outlets and host of The Shaffer Hour. Eric values intellectual honesty and truth above all else in politics and reporting. As a conservative, Eric spreads a message of logical thought and reason in the political realm.

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