Explainer: who are the Uyghurs and why is the Chinese government detaining them?

Hayes, Anna (2019) Explainer: who are the Uyghurs and why is the Chinese government detaining them? The Conversation, 15 February 2019.

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Abstract

The Uyghurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims from the Central Asian region. The largest population live in China’s autonomous Xinjiang region, in the country's north-west. The Uyghurs are one of a number of persecuted Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including the Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz and Hui.

The region's name suggests the Uyghurs have autonomy and self-governance. But similar to Tibet, Xinjiang is a tightly controlled region of China.

Many Uyghur communities also live in countries neighbouring China, such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. An estimated 3,000 Uyghurs live in Australia.

China's President Xi Jinping has overseen a hardline approach towards Muslim minorities living in Xinjiang, especially the Uyghurs. In recent years, the government has installed sophisticated surveillance technology across the region, and there has been a surge in police numbers.

Muslim minorities are being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned. It's estimated around one million Uyghurs have been detained in what China calls "vocational training centres".

These are purpose-built detention centres, some of which resemble high-security jails. A recent ABC investigation found 28 detention camps had expanded across Xinjiang as part of China’s program of subjugation.

There is growing evidence of human rights violations inside the centres as well as reports of deaths in custody and forced labour.

Members of the Uyghur diaspora have been reported as requesting "proof of life" from Beijing over disappeared family members back in Xinjiang. The Guardian recently reported an estimate that 80% of Uyghurs in Australia would have a relative who has disappeared into the camps.

Item ID: 59154
Item Type: Article (Commentary)
Keywords: Xinjiang, Uyghur, Chinese Communist Party, China, detention camps, Kazakh
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Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2019 01:11
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160606 Government and Politics of Asia and the Pacific @ 60%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210302 Asian History @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy @ 20%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9402 Government and Politics > 940203 Political Systems @ 70%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society @ 30%
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