About Uighur issue
- The Xinjiang province in China’s far west has had a long history of discord between the authorities and the indigenous ethnic Uighur population.
- Most Uighurs are Muslim, their language is related to Turkish, and they regard themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.
- Some Uighurs living there refer to the region as East Turkestan and argue that it ought to be independent from China. There have been open calls for separation of Xinjiang from China since the 1990s. Since then, China suppressed any dissent from Uyghur and began placing restrictions on them.
- Ethnic tensions caused by economic and cultural factors are considered the root cause of the recent violence. There are complaints of severe restrictions on Islam, with fewer mosques and strict control over religious schools.
- Rights activists have said the Xinjiang region is home to a vast network of extrajudicial internment camps that have imprisoned at least one million people, which China has defended as vocational training centres to counter extremism.
- Most of the people who have been arbitrarily detained are Uighur. Human rights organizations, UN officials, and many foreign governments are urging China to stop the crackdown.
- But Chinese officials maintain that what they call vocational training centers do not infringe on Uighurs’ human rights. They have refused to share information about the detention centers, and prevented journalists and foreign investigators from examining them.
Why in News?
- Forty-three countries have called on China to ensure full respect for the rule of law for the Muslim Uighur community in Xinjiang.
- The declaration, signed by the United States as well as several European and Asian member states and others, accused China of a litany of human rights violations against the Uighurs, including torture, forced sterilisation and forced disappearances.
- Beijing has long denied accusations of ethnic cleansing against Uighurs and other Muslim Turkic people in Xinjiang, where experts have estimated that more than one million people are incarcerated in camps.