Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China

February 8, 2008

For immediate release
February 8, 2008 2:00 PM EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 349 1494 A new report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project examines a recently implemented People’s Republic of China (PRC) policy that recruits young Uyghur women from majority Uyghur areas of East Turkestan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR) and transfers them to work in factories in urban areas of eastern China.

The report, Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China, reveals that, less than two years after the initiation of the transfer policy, it has already left a history of broken promises and shattered families.

The new PRC transfer policy:

  • Focuses on southern East Turkestan, a majority Uyghur area that remains a center of traditional Uyghur culture and where the percentage of inhabitants who are Uyghur is presently the highest in the PRC.
  • Targets marriage-aged women between the ages of 16 to 25.
  • Intimidates the women and their families to compel them to participate in the program.
  • Threatens local leaders who do not comply with the policy with removal from their posts.
  • Places the young women into inhumane work conditions and with employers that do not honor work contracts.

Under the policy, thousands of Uyghur women have been removed from their families and placed into substandard working conditions thousands of miles from their homes. At the same time that the PRC government implements the transfer policy in the name of providing economic opportunities for these young women, it also provides support for the movement of large numbers of Han Chinese migrants into East Turkestan.

“This transfer policy can be seen as another aspect of Beijing’s effort to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people and undermine the distinct Uyghur culture of East Turkestan,” said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “Continuation of the policy will only further marginalize the Uyghur people and deepen Uyghurs’ mistrust of PRC officials, leading to even greater tensions in East Turkestan.”

The report also places the government-sponsored transfer into the broader context of the PRC’s ongoing cultural attacks and human rights abuses against the Uyghur people. Uyghur religion, a moderate form of Sunni Islam that is a vital part of their ethnic identity, has been fiercely suppressed. The PRC legal system is used as a tool of repression, with arbitrary detentions and torture commonly employed against any Uyghur who voices discontent with the government. Charges of “political crimes” and the death penalty have been shown to be disproportionately applied to Uyghurs. Uyghur women suffer from sterilizations and forced abortions, and corvée labor is still used in East Turkestan’s rural areas.

The report, Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China, can be downloaded at

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