Despite being the second largest religious group in the world, Muslims are a minority group in the republic of China comprising only about 0.45% of the country. Even still, the population of a certain group of Muslims known as the Uighurs continue to dwindle in population through violent and abusive measures taken by the Chinese government to repress the Muslim minority. Today, even their religious freedom is at risk.
The tension between China and the Uighurs goes back to the 18th Century when Xinjiang, the region occupied mostly by the Uighurs, became under the rule of Communist China. Separatist groups against Beijing intensified the tension and ultimately led to the domination of one group over the other in terms of economy and culture. Years continue to pass and gradually the oppression against the Uighurs increased to what is now being deemed as inhumane. The Chinese government denies any actions breaching human rights. However, increasing evidence proving the atrocities occurring in Xinjiang are coming to light.
Draconian measures are imposed on the Uighurs such as detention at concentration camps where they are forced to labor, forceful conversion through indoctrination, torture through sexual abuse and waterboarding, and even sterilization to control the population. In comparison to the number of victims who suffered in the Holocaust, some deem this mass detention to be even worse.
Much violence have been done and separatists are also being blamed for the incidents. Mass arrests have been conducted in the name of catching “terror groups” but one may wonder if this is just another excuse to target the minority. It is difficult to say definitively as journalism is tightly controlled by the Chinese government. However, this does not undermine the fact that human rights are still being severely abused and stripped.
It is unfortunate that such gross injustice is being committed in the modern age but examples of oppression have been met by anything except turning a blind eye. Across the sea, nations such as South Korea face similar human rights issues, wherein the religious freedom of a religious minority called Shincheonji Church of Jesus is also being trampled on–yet, little media has covered the story. The only part of the story that has been covered is the involvement of the Daegu branch church in a large super-spreader event in February. At least, on the part of the media and human rights activists, this is the least that can be done. The injustice that the Uighurs are facing is now coming to light and it is only a matter of time before justice can be served, much like injustices in the rest of the world. As Thomas Jefferson said, resistance becomes duty when injustice becomes law.
International institutions are even taking action to hold China accountable for its wrongdoings. The United States have placed sanctions on those who are involved in persecuting the Uighurs and have even punished companies relying on the forced labor of Uighurs detained in concentration camps. Allies of human rights and supporters of religious freedom will continue to put pressure on China until the abuse ceases and freedom and justice are restored.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.