China is trying to erase the Uighurs and their culture

Kashgar old city. wikipedia


13 Oct 2018

Just imagine what it would be like if armed security forces stormed into your home, arrested your loved ones, put them in a concentration camp, and took away your children. This is what happened to the family of 44-year-old Turghunjan, who I met while on a visit to Turkey to interview Uighur refugees.

Turghunjan owned a jewellery business and for four years was regularly travelling between Turkey and China. During one of those trips in mid-2017, his family members were arrested without any explanation and his bank accounts frozen.

"I have nothing to lose, as they have arrested my wife for nothing, and I don't know the whereabouts of my two baby twins and teenage boy," he said. "We only want peace, security, democracy, and freedom. People like me - who are living outside China and who lost contact with their family members - are giving tremendous sacrifices for peace."

He broke down and sobbed while telling me his story. This has been one of many Uighur families that have been broken by Beijing's continuing repression in Xinjiang (East Turkestan).

In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released a report in which it said that some one million Uighurs have been detained into "counterterrorism" centres in China and that two million have been forced into "re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination".

The Chinese government bluntly denied these accusations and rebuffed the committee at the time. But just two months later, it appeared to legalise these internment camps.

It changed local legislation in Xinjiang to allow re-education camps to also implement "anti-extremist ideological education".