Understanding Continued Persecution of China’s Uighurs

A photo posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration shows Uyghur detainees listening to a 'de-radicalization' speech at a re-education camp in Hotan prefecture's Lop county, April 2017.  Wikipedia

By: Marissa Moran

In a recent teleconference, Kimberly Marteau Emerson, a Pacific Council member and principal of KME Consulting, moderated a discussion on the continued persecution of China’s minority Muslim Uighur population. The teleconference featured Adrian Zenz, a senior fellow of China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, and Zubayra Shamseden, Chinese outreach coordinator at the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Here are key takeaways from the call, with the full audio recording below.

  • Zubayra Shamseden, a Uighur woman based in the United States, says she has not been able to reach her family and loved ones in the Xinjiang Province in China’s northwest. She explained how Chinese officials are forcing themselves into Uighur homes, demanding they denounce their religious and cultural identity and freedom. A source in Xinjiang province has told Zubayra about the Uighur camp experience: they are unhygienic, filthy conditions with no clean water, minimal food that lacks nutrition, and even torture for some. China describes these camps as “vocational education centers.”
  • Adrian Zenz spoke about the China Cables and Xinjiang Papers which recently leaked and revealed the deplorable conditions of these camps. It is suspected that a high-level official in the Chinese government leaked the cables as a passive act of resistance to the government, possibly someone who is an ethnic minority. In addition to the cables, there is footage that shows that “vocational training centers” are run like high-security prisons.
  • Countries that are Muslim-majority and participate in the Belt & Road Initiative know that China can help them more in the long term than the West can, so they have been hesitant to speak up about the Uighur atrocities.
  • On December 3, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act with a 407-1 vote, giving hope to Uighur people, according to Zubayra, who hopes countries like Germany, Australia, and the UK will take similar steps.

Listen to the full conversation below: