• Project Angel Island

Uncovering the Voices of the Uighers

Since 2015, over a million Uighur Muslims have been detained in operating concentration camps in China, where they subjected to mistreatment for many years. However, the international response to the Uighur Crisis lacked urgency and understanding of the gravity of the situation. As viewers of current news, we should not look past this muted humanitarian crisis, but rather give it the attention and action it rightfully deserves.

Uighur Muslims are a Turk-speaking Chinese ethnic minority who originates from the Central and East Asian nations. The majority of the population settled in China’s autonomous northwest region, Xinjiang, but other significant diasporic communities are in other Central Asian territories of Kazakhstan, Taiwan, and Turkey. Due to living in an autonomous region, The Uighur Muslims developed and formed their own culture and traditions like their language called Uighur, while having Islam as the main religion that is worshipped by the majority of the population.

Up to current news, during an interview, the Chinese foreign ambassador was confronted about the drone footage that showed the Xinjiang concentration camps and hundreds of blindfolded male prisoners tied up while being led into trains by guards. Chinese ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, insists that the talk of concentration camps in Xinjiang was “fabricated” and “fake news”, despite the Australian security services authentication of the drone footage. Apart from this, the Chinese concentration camps, also known as the Xinjiang re-education camps, was initiated under Xi Jinping, the General Secretary and President of the People's Republic of China. The re-education camps serve to adhere to China's communist party ideology as well as following the directive he issued in 2017 that states that "religions in China must be Chinese in orientation" and "adapt themselves to socialist society."

Since the Uighur Muslims had developed their own cultural identity and beliefs, the majority of their population had been affected and sent to Xinjiang’s detainment camps. Over a million Uighur Muslims had to suffer long years of oppression and persecution. China has been suppressing the Uighurs’ human rights and fundamental freedoms for years, including forced labor, mass sterilization, sexual assault, torture, and brainwashing. Sterilization and abortions are forced upon Uighur women to prevent the Islam minority from growing. However, Uighur women are charged with an enormous fine or sent to detainment camps if they refuse to follow through, leaving the women of Uighur no choice but to succumb to the cruel, ruthless procedures enforced by the Chinese authorities. Month after month, Uighur Muslims are to learn and study the official language of China, Mandarin Chinese, as well as renouncing Islam and criticizing their religious beliefs under intensive surveillance during their detainment at the Xinjiang re-education camps.

China is halfway around the world, but it doesn't diminish the fact that Uighur Muslims are stripped down of their fundamental human rights and freedom. Everyone, regardless of color, nationality, language, religion, will, and always have freedom and liberty as a birthright. Uighur Muslims may not have a voice that they can call out for help, but we do. As witnesses, we must use our voices to amplify the muffled cries of despair that are unheard of, especially to those who need us the most. The power that one’s voice holds is as influential and effective as many as it spreads and is, eventually, heard through all the white noise.

Help support organizations such as the Uyghur Human Rights Project and the Save Uighur Campaign by contributing funds to provide immediate humanitarian assistance for Uighur refugees as well as holding interviews that can help the Uighurs find their voices.

Chloe Salva



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