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China's Oppression of Uyghurs - What You Need to Know

China's Oppression of Uyghurs - What You Need to Know

Author Samiah Rahman by

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Salvatore Di Nolfi/EPA

Trigger warning for graphic descriptions, islamophobia, torture, sexual assault, and rape.

Factual evidence has been taken from various sources and survivor stories, which will be linked below.

Since 2017, between one and three million Uyghurs- a majority Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group- have been targetted in China’s Xinjiang province and have been forced into concentration camps. The majority of inmates have no criminal history, are not given the right to undergo trials, yet are forced into administrative detention. They have been held captive, forced to leave their religious practices, and tortured.

Among other predominantly Muslim minorities such as the Kazakhs and the Uzbeks, the Uyghurs of the region have endured the severity of the government’s repression for decades. The camps, beginning back in 2014, grew exponentially in size in 2017. Despite China’s claims to be winding down its “vocational training centers”, the number of camps has reached just under 400 as construction continues.

Satellite imagery has repeatedly confirmed the increasing number of camps, and have also shown the destruction of Uyghur communities, where mosques and stores have been demolished. The Chinese government insists that in these centers, the Uyghur’s human rights are not violated, but previously denied the existence of the camps at all.

Those not detained are subjected to extreme surveillance, forced sterilizations, and religious constraints. Families have been stripped apart, and the ones left behind have no support system, as most Chinese citizens are not aware of the current events, and do not believe Uyghur citizens’ pleas for help. Relatives of those in concentration camps are threatened to stay quiet to ensure a shorter sentence for their families. People have disappeared not only from their homes but also from the camps.

Uyghurs within the Xinjiang camps have been detained for traveling to or contacting someone in any one of the 26 countries Chinese authorities deem sensitive, having three or more children, praying at a mosque, owning a Quran, sending a text message with its verses, or simply practicing Islam, for which they have been labeled extremists. Those who have managed to flee the camps describe waterboarding, interrogations, forced renouncement of Islam, and being forced to eat pork, which goes against the religion.

Women have been subjected to mass sterilization-forced abortions, implantations of contraceptives against their will-and rape. To survive, Uyghur Muslim families marry off their women to Chinese men, then being forced into a life of sexual and emotional abuse. Photos of such weddings have been posted on social media platforms. Mihrigul Tursun, a survivor, said, “I would rather die than go through this torture, I begged them to kill me.” She is one of the countless survivors that have recounted their stories in distraught.

Individuals are subjected to forced labor to produce products. Companies accused of enabling and profiting off of Uyghur forced labor are Gap, H&M, Calvin Klein, Zara, Fila, Adidas, along with nearly 150+ more. Roughly 20% of cotton products worldwide have been made on Xinjiang land by Uyghurs, as 84% of the country’s cotton comes from Xinjiang. Disney’s live-action remake of Mulan has also received heavy backlash for partially being filmed in the Xinjiang region, causing large amounts of the public to boycott the film.

Recently, the United States imposed sanctions on a major economic organization located in the Xinjiang region and has blacklisted dozens of the country’s agencies linked to the area.

How can we help?

  1. For the past several years, there has been minimal to no coverage on the Uyghur genocide. The best way is to speak up about the events and share survivor stories as well as factual evidence. Genocide prevention orgs, Jewish and Muslim groups, faith leaders, and political activists have all spoken out, educating people on the matter.

  2. Boycott and confront the companies involved, the Mulan live-action film, and the 2022 Olympics, which are being held in China.

  3. Keep up with informative pages (these are ones from Instagram): freeuyghurnow, socal_suj, campaignforuyghurs, saveuighurusa, uyghurcongress, uyghurprojectig


Buzzfeed News, The New York Times, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Business Insider.

Survivor Stories:
Majority have recounted their experiences to Journalists, News, and Social Media platforms. Plenty have been taken down by SNS platforms but their story still stands. Linked below are a couple videos (Content Warning for graphic descriptions of torture and abuse)

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