This is the second of a two-part series on the abuses of the PRC in China.
Last month discussed the crushing of dissent in Hong Kong by arrests, imprisonment, the shutting of independent newspapers, the purging of libraries and the destruction of the educational and business careers of protestors. This month, I honor the Uyghurs of eastern China for what is now officially being called “genocidal” actions orchestrated by President Xi Jinping and his thugs in the Chinese police state.
Unfortunately, what is being done to the Uyghurs is not unique in the history of the PRC. Ethnic Tibetans have been dealing with Chinese Communist aggression after Mao came to power. As most know, the Tibetans are kind and gentle people and have a culture and autonomy that was largely left autonomous for approximately 1,000 years because of their remote location and Buddhist respect for other cultures.
When Mao decided to “incorporate” Tibet “formally” into China in 1950, Tibet was an ethnically homogenous territory with overwhelmingly Tibetan people with a small minority population of practicing Muslims. After “annexation”, the Tibetans were initially grante d “a utonomous status” as a region under the Dalai Lama. Tranquility did not last. In response to heavy handed dictates from Beijing during the Great Leap Forward beginning in 1958. As a result, the Tibetans had an uprising in 1959 that was harshly put down by the PRC and forced the Dali Lama to flee to India. During those years (1958-1962) between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died as a result of Mao’s deplorable policies out of a population off roughly 2,500,000-3,000.000. Then during the “Cultural Revolution” another of Mao’s horrible pogroms, the PRC tried to obliterate the Tibetan culture by destroying an estimated 6,000 Buddhist monasteries and started encouraging ethic Han Chinese to move to Tibet to dilute the Tibetan population.
Which brings us to the Uyghurs. The Uyghurs bear no resemblance to ethic Han Chinese and are closely related to the Turkic populations of the central Asian plateau, and are overwhelmingly practicing Muslims. There are approximately 13,500,000 Uyghurs living in their “autonomous region. “At the same time President Xi began targeting Hong Kong for suppression in 2014, he also started hammering on the Uyghurs. As a result, over 1,000,000 Uyghurs are now in interment camps, the largest detention of ethnic and religious people since World War II. Thousands of mosques have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their parents and put in “boarding schools.” The PRC has also installed surveillance cameras in the homes of people suspected of being protestors and there are numerous reports of efforts by the PRC to force Ugyhur women to be sterilized or take birth control to avoid having children. As a result, the Ugyhiur birth rate has plummeted. Last but not least, again as in Tibet, the PRC is encouraging ethic Han Chinese to move to the Uyghur region to dilute the Ugyhur population.
As 60 Minutes and other media outlets began investigating and publicizing what was going on, the PRC issued press releases saying that the Ugyhurs were voluntarily serving in “vocational centers” to learn manufacturing skills. The PR campaign didn’t work because the satellite pictures and first-hand accounts of Uyghurs who successfully fled have rebutted their story. What has now emerged is evidence of the PRC creating large manufacturing and mining facilities using forced Uyghur labor. As a result, in 2021, the United States, Britain and numerous other western countries have accused China of violating Article II of the 1948 Genocide Treaty and of “crimes against humanity.” However, as with Hong Kong, no amount of international condemnation has stopped the genocidal behavior of the PRC and the Uyghurs continue to suffer in unprecedented numbers.
If you are interested, I would recommend watching the 60 Minutes segment on YouTube which also has an extensive library of reports from the BBC, Frontline, and other reliable news outlets.
I am honoring the Uyghurs because they are gentle and law abiding people who have not resorted to violence in spite of their terrible mistreatment and hopefully some day soon will be spared from further misery.
PS. In contrast to the behavior of international corporations in ignoring or even rationalizing the destruction of freedom in Hong Kong, the truth about the Uyghurs is so bad and now so well known that most multi-nationals are now trying in earnest to confirm that they are not facilitatiing the purchase of commodities and products from Uyghur forced labor. But none have taken the more heroic route of vigorously condemning the PRC than they have over Hong Kong. In the end, the best we can do as Americans is to bring increasing pressure on American and multi-national corporations to stop sourcing materials and products from China. (Walmart, Apple, Nike, Tesla, Tommy Bahama, GAP, Restoration Hardware, Mattel, Hasbro, to name a few.)