• Recently, 43 countries have signed a declaration, calling on China to ensure full respect for the rule of law for the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang.
  • Earlier, in March 2021 several hundred Uighur Muslim women in Turkey staged an International Women’s Day marchagainst the extradition agreement of Turkey with China.

Important points:

  • The declaration was signed by the US and other countries accusing China of human rights violations and ethnic cleansing against the Uighur Muslims.
  • Similar declarations in 2019 and 2020 condemned China for its policies in Xinjiang, where United States has accused Beijing of carrying out genocide.
  • It also called for access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • It noted the existence of a large network of ‘political re-education’ camps in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where over a million people have been arbitrarily detained.

Uighur Muslims

  • The Uighurs are a predominantly Muslim minority Turkic ethnic group, whose origins can be traced to Central and East Asia.
  • The Uighurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
  • The Uighurs are considered to be one of the 55 officially recognized ethnic minority communities in China.
  • However, China recognises the community only as a regional minority and rejects that they are an indigenous group.
  • Currently, the largest population of the Uighur ethnic community lives in the Xinjiang region of China.
  • A significant population of Uighurs also lives in the neighbouring Central Asian countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
  • Xinjiang is technically an autonomous region within China — its largest region, rich in minerals, and sharing borders with eight countries, including India, Pakistan, Russia and Afghanistan.

Way Forward

  • China must close its “Vocational Training Centers,” release the religious and political prisoners from prisons and detention camps.
  • It should adopt multiculturalism and accept the Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims of China as ordinary citizens equal to native Chinese.


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