‘China Sees Practising Islam As A Sign Of Extremism’

China is carrying out ‘cultural genocide’ in Xinjiang and its repressive measures against the ethnic minority are to homogenise Uyghurs into the country’s Han Chinese majority and erasing their cultural and religious identity, reported The Atlantic.

“Repressive measures against the ethnic minority have progressively worsened: The Chinese government has corralled more than 1 million of them into internment camps, where they have been subjected to political indoctrination, forced sterilization, and torture,” writes journalist Yasmeen Serhan in The Atlantic, an American magazine.

“The targeting of the Uyghurs isn’t limited to the camps. Since 2016, dozens of graveyards and religious sites have been destroyed. The Uyghur language has been banned in Xinjiang schools in favor of Mandarin Chinese. Practicing Islam, the predominant Uyghur faith has been discouraged as a ‘sign of extremism’,” she adds.

In this condition, the burden to preserve the culture comes upon Uyghurs living outside the country.

Serhan said the burden on the Uyghurs living in other countries is more than just raising awareness about what is taking place in their homeland — a task many have taken up at a great cost to themselves and their families.

It’s also about preserving and promoting their identity in countries where few people might know who the Uyghurs are, let alone what the world stands to lose should their language, food, art and traditions be eradicated, she adds.

Serhan interviewed Uyghurs residing in Britain, France, Turkey and the United States.

“All of them are passionate about ensuring that their heritage will be passed on to future generations. None of them is under any illusions about what’s at stake if they fail,” she writes.

“‘Every Uyghur now is under very big psychological pressure,’ Omer Kanat, the director of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, told me. We cannot sleep at night.”

Hundreds of prominent Uyghur cultural figures including singers, musicians, novelists, scholars and academics have been detained, imprisoned or have disappeared since 2017, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Tahir Hamut Izgil, a Uyghur poet and film director based in Washington D.C., told her via an interpreter that this suppression of the Uyghur cultural sphere dates back to at least 2012, when the Chinese government began a “reexamination” of Uyghur-language publications, films, and music, many of which were blacklisted.

“Uyghur music and dance troupes were obligated to perform entirely in Chinese … on topics like opposing separatism, loving the motherland, loving the party, unity of the peoples,” Izgil says.

Xinjiang is home to around 10 million Uyghurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 per cent of Xinjiang’s population, has long accused China’s authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

About seven per cent of the Muslim population in Xinjiang has been incarcerated in an expanding network of “political re-education” camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

Classified documents known as the China Cables, accessed last year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, threw light on how the Chinese government uses technology to control Uyghurs worldwide.

China put a million or more Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities into detention camps and prisons in Xinjiang over the last three years under President Xi Jinping’s directives to “show absolutely no mercy in the struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism”, revealed the documents released in US media.

However, China regularly denies such mistreatment and says the camps provide vocational training.

Uyghur activists and human rights groups have countered that many of those held are people with advanced degrees and business owners who are influential in their communities and have no need for any special education.

People in the internment camps have described being subjected to forced political indoctrination, torture, beatings and denial of food and medicine, and say they have been prohibited from practicing their religion or speaking their language.

Now, as Beijing denies these accounts, it also refuses to allow independent inspections into the regions, at the same time, which further fuels reports related to China’s atrocities on the minority Muslims. (ANI)

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