Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Human Rights Violations in the Uyghur Autonomous Region and the International Community

The Uygur Autonomous Region is one of the five autonomous regions of China, with Tibet Autonomous Region, Guang Xi Zhuang Zu Autonomous Region, Ning Xia Hui Zu Autonomous Region and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. The Uyghur Autonomous Region, which has an important geopolitical position, is one of the regions that attract attention in terms of underground resources and transportation routes. In total, there are 122 types of mines that can be produced commercially in the region. In addition, the discovery of new natural resources in the region continues. Last October, 115 billion cubic meters of natural gas was discovered in the region. In addition, the region is an important transit point for the “Belt and Road Initiative”, also called the “New Silk Road”, to which China attaches great importance in line with its goal of becoming a global power.

Although the official name of the region includes the expression “autonomous”, it is mentioned that the Uyghurs do not have the right to govern and represent themselves. All authority in the administration of the region belongs to the Chinese. The political, economic and military decision-making and supervisory powers of the ethnic elements assigned to the autonomous administrative bodies are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. This is undoubtedly an important factor in terms of internal dynamics in the region.

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Another feature of the region is that the Muslim-Turkish community has formed the majority of the population since the past. It can be said that this demographic structure, which differs from the general of China, is effective on the basis of the conflicts occurring in the region today. As a matter of fact, the effects of the policies pursued towards the Chineseization of Turkish society and the elimination of Islam are observed, especially in the conflicts that took place after 1949. It is also known that over the years, the Chinese Government has had immigration from other parts of China in order to create a demographic structure that will change the majority of the Muslim Turkish community in the region.

In fact, since 1949, when China established its dominance in the region, conflicts have been taking place between the people of the region and the Chinese administration, and China’s pressure on the people of the region, the majority of whom are Muslim Turks, remains on the agenda. It is observed that China has accelerated such initiatives within the framework of its policy of nationalization and elimination of excesses. The region most exposed to these policies is the Uyghur Autonomous Region. In this context, it is seen that the international public awareness on this issue and the reactions towards the Chinese government have been increasing over the years. Reactions are expressed by many countries in various channels. Especially, countries such as Turkey, Germany, and the United States of America occasionally report their discomfort regarding the policies followed by China in this region.

Today, there is a general understanding that China violates human rights against Uighur Turks. With each passing day, new data that strengthen the opinions in this direction come from the region. The facilities that are stated to be for educational purposes and to eliminate extremism, and the statements of people who stayed in these facilities for a certain period of time and then managed to escape, reveal China’s policies that violate human rights towards Uyghur Turks. These applications are also widely used in many international media organs, especially today.

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Due to the policies of China, the situation of the Uighur Turks is getting worse day by day. Although China has not faced any sanctions due to human rights violations in the Uyghur Autonomous Region, these allegations have negative consequences in terms of respect for basic human rights, especially for the country, which is an important power center. In addition, it causes the international public to adopt an attitude towards China regarding these issues.

Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield, claimed that people in Xinjiang were tortured and women were forcibly sterilized. Greenfield stated that they have received numerous reports about many Uyghurs who want to exercise their freedom of religion, belief and expression, adding, “We will fight until the Chinese government stops the crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and the genocide of the Uyghurs and other minorities. “We will continue to work with our allies and partners until the Chinese government respects international human rights,” she said.

In an open letter to United Nations member states, Amnesty International noted that the international community should strongly condemn the human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and take the necessary steps for justice and accountability.

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Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary-General, said: “Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have signed our petition to express their anger at the evidence of crimes against humanity and other grave human rights violations against Muslims in Xinjiang. People around the world are trying to silence China’s dissidents. It’s clear that they see you are in. Every signature is a direct call to China to immediately end this systematic persecution. The Chinese government should release the detainees in the camps and prisons, end the concentration camp system, target the predominantly Muslim groups in Xinjiang. “We must immediately stop systematic attacks,” he said.

The global petition campaign, launched by Amnesty in June, seeks for China to end the ill-treatment and human rights violations against the Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Amnesty International supporters held public events in 10 major cities to deliver the ‘Release Xinjiang Prisoners’ petitions. Activists gathered at the Chinese Embassy in London on October 7 and presented the petition by wearing the blue overalls that concentration camp detainees were forced to wear. Activists also forwarded petitions to Chinese embassies in Dakar, Helsinki, Lima, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, The Hague and Washington.

The organization’s report, published in June, documents the systematic state-organized detention, torture and persecution of Uyghur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Calling on the United Nations and its member states to strongly condemn China’s human rights violations and launch a robust, independent international investigation mechanism to ensure accountability, Amnesty International said in its report, “The international community believes that this terrible reality for Muslims in Xinjiang has its own “A lot of time has already been lost. The obligation of UN member states to protect the rights of all people in Xinjiang and to investigate and ensure accountability for suspected crimes under international law is greater than ever.”


Ayse Selcan Akin
‘’She is studying in the department of International Relations at Hacettepe University. She also attends the department of Local Government at Anadolu University. She is an intern at the Foreign Policy Institute. She speaks advanced English, intermediate German and Korean. She is interested in the fields of Security Studies, Foreign Policy and International Law.’’

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