Topic: History/Contemporary History
The Uyghur genocide is the ongoing series of human rights abuses perpetrated by the government of China against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities in and around the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of the People's Republic of China. Since 2014, the Chinese government, under the direction of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the administration of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, has pursued policies leading to more than one million Muslims (the majority of them Uyghurs) being held in secretive internment camps without any legal process in what has become the largest-scale and most systematic detention of ethnic and religious minorities since the Holocaust and 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.
These policies have been described by critics as the forced assimilation of Xinjiang, as well as an ethnocide or cultural genocide. Some governments, activists, independent NGOs, human rights experts, academics, government officials, and the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile have called it a genocide.
In particular, critics have highlighted the concentration of Uyghurs in state-sponsored internment camps, suppression of Uyghur religious practices, political indoctrination, severe ill-treatment, as well as extensive evidence and other testimonials detailing human rights abuses including forced sterilization, contraception, abortion, and infanticides. Chinese government statistics show 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%, from 12.07 to 10.9 per 1,000 people. 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 fell nearly 24% in 2019 (compared to a nationwide decrease of just 4.2%).
International reactions have been sharply divided, with dozens of United Nations (UN) member states issuing opposing letters to the United Nations Human Rights Council in support and condemnation of China's policies in Xinjiang in 2020. In December 2020, the International Criminal Court declined to take investigative action against China on the basis of not having jurisdiction over China for most of the alleged crimes. The United States was the first country to declare the human rights abuses a genocide, announcing its determination on January 19, 2021, although the US State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser concluded that there was insufficient evidence to prove genocide. This was followed by Canada's House of Commons and the Dutch parliament each passing a non-binding motion in February 2021 to recognize China's actions as genocide. Later, in April 2021, the United Kingdom's House of Commons unanimously passed a non-binding motion to recognize the actions as genocide. In May 2021 the New Zealand parliament unanimously declared that "severe human rights abuses" were occurring against the Uyghur people in China and the Seimas of Lithuania passed a resolution that recognized the Chinese government's abuse of the Uyghurs as a genocide.