Turning a Blind Eye to China’s Suppression of Uyghur Muslims

Source: International Policy Digest

By Adithya Anil Variath

It is an open secret that the Chinese government is carrying out a “systematic campaign” of abuses, arbitrary detention and torture against Turkic Muslims (primarily ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs) living in the country’s western Xinjiang Province under the pretence of eradicating ideological viruses for the purpose of cultural integration and counter-terrorism. About 13 million ethnic Muslims have been subjected to “forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of international human rights law.”

China’s diplomatic stand on terrorism has indeed been a paradox. On the one hand, Chinese authorities launched an anti-terror campaign in 2014 called “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Extremism” subjecting Uyghurs to rampant abuses, and on the other hand, China was vetoing a UN Security Council declaration to designate Masood Azhar, Chief of Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed, as a “global terrorist.” China has an infamous history of repressive policies against Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China. But the momentum and vigour escalated since late 2016 when Communist Party Secretary Chen Quanguo was relocated from the Tibet Autonomous Region to take up leadership of Xinjiang.

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