The Uyghur genocide is the characterization of the series of ongoing human rights abuses committed by the government of China against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang.
Government policies have included the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs in state sponsored internment camps, forced labour, suppression of Uyghur religious practices, political indoctrination, severe ill-treatment, forced sterilization, forced contraception and forced abortion.
Chinese government statistics reported that from 2015 to 2018, birth rates in the mostly Uyghur regions of Hotan and Kashgar fell by more than 60%.
In the same period, the birth rate of the whole country decreased by 9.69%. Chinese authorities acknowledged that birth rates dropped by almost a third in 2018 in Xinjiang, but denied reports of forced sterilization and genocide.
Birth rates in Xinjiang fell a further 24% in 2019, compared to a nationwide decrease of 4.2%.
Since 2014, the Chinese government, under the administration of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping, has pursued policies that incarcerated more than an estimated one million Muslims (the majority of them Uyghurs) in internment camps without any legal process.
This is the largest-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II.
Thousands of mosques have been destroyed or damaged, and hundreds of thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their parents and sent to boarding schools.
At first, these actions were described as the forced assimilation of Xinjiang, and an ethnocide or cultural genocide.
As more details emerged, some governments, activists, NGOs, human rights experts, and academics termed it genocide, pointing to intentional acts committed by the Chinese government that they say run afoul of Article II of the Genocide Convention.
The Chinese government publicly denies that it has committed human rights abuses in Xinjiang. International reactions have varied. Some United Nations (UN) member states issued statements to the United Nations Human Rights Council condemning China's policies, while others supported China's policies.
In December 2020, the International Criminal Court declined to investigate China on jurisdictional grounds.
The United States was the first country to declare the human rights abuses a genocide, announcing its finding on January 19, 2021.
Legislatures in several countries have passed non-binding motions describing China's actions as genocide, including the House of Commons of Canada, the Dutch parliament, the House of Commons of the United Kingdom the Seimas of Lithuania and the French National Assembly.
Other parliaments, such as those in New Zealand, Belgium and the Czech Republic condemned the Chinese government's treatment of Uyghurs as “severe human rights abuses” or crimes against humanity.
(Images courtesy: Kuzzat Altay/Unsplash)
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