Uyghurs are alternatively known as Uighurs, Uygurs, or Uigurs. They are Turkic-speaking Muslims belonging to minority ethnic groups, originating from the central and east Asia region. They are native of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region which is located in Northwest China and comes under the People’s Republic of China.

The history and origin of the Uyghur people have been a topic of debate between the Uyghur nationalist and Chinese authority for a long.  As per the Chinese officials, Uyghurs are of Tiele origin and their number increased in the Xinjiang region after they migrated from Mongolia. Uighur in Xinjiang is known to speak two main dialects, one which standard Xinjiang inspired by Mandarin Chinese and another Is Standard Soviet which is inspired by Kazakhstan which was once part of the Soviet Union.

 In 1949, Xinjiang was annexed by China and since then it has been under the control of the Chinese government. The main question that arises here is, why is China targeting Uyghur people?


China claims that Uighurs are extremists and they possess a threat to security. In 2012, six Uighur men tried to hijack Tianjin Airlines Flight 7554 but failed in executing the whole plan. In 2013, three Uyghur men killed five people from their SUV in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. In 2014, as per the Chinese authorities, hundreds were killed in a terrorist attack on a Xinjiang police station which was linked to a group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement but as per the World Uyghur Congress, the whole incident was retaliation towards the stringent rules formed by the government which restricted Uyghur people from freely practicing their religion.

 In 2014, BBC was informed by an Uyghur university student, studying in Xinjian that Chinese authorities are restricting them from fasting or visiting the mosque in the holy month of Ramadan. In 2017, these restrictions were further aired by President Xi Jinping, who said that religion in China must be per Chinese religion. The Chinese government also went ahead and prohibited Uyghur men from growing their beards and many mosques were demolished in the same year.


The Chinese government has expanded the construction of detention centers between the year 2017-2018. The earlier Chinese government rejected to accept the existence of any detention camps but later on, when the pictures of camp construction with barbed wires and watchtowers started floating on the internet they claimed it was a “re-education center” and not a detention camp. The Uygur people who were taken to these so-called re-education centers said they were beaten and interrogated because of their religion by the Chinese authorities. 

The global reaction on the plight of Uyghur has been in the favor of Uyghur men and women who are being deprived of their basic human rights. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have called out Beijing on the inhuman treatment that they have subjected to Uyghur people to.  In a letter to U.N Human Rights Council, 22 countries came forward to support the Uyghur people but four days later 37 countries came forward to support China as they believe, China is only trying to protect its state from terrorism and religious extremism.


Life for Uyghur people in China has become horrible. The Chinese authorities are taking strict action against Uyghur people in the name of protecting their state from terrorism and religious extremism. Men and Women are being detained in ”re-educational center” wherein they are deprived of their basic human rights like freedom of religion, freedom of movement and are subjected to unjustified imprisonments. Many Uygur people who can manage to leave China have left for other Muslim countries like Egypt, Turkey, and Malaysia and they are living as refugees in these countries. As always, because of the reckless action of a few who went ahead and took illegal measures against the Chinese government now millions of Uyghur people are deemed as religious extremists and terrorists.

The plight of Uyghurs in Xinjian is alone not a reason for concern. Even the people who have managed to leave China and enter another country as refugees are in great despair. As per The World Uyghur Congress, there have been many instances wherein Uygur refugees or asylum seekers were forcibly returned to China after the Chinese authorities pressurized the foreign government because they don’t want the Uyghur minority to flee oppression and seek shelter in another country from where they could voice their opinion and hardships.  

“In December 2009, 22 Uyghurs were deported back to China from Cambodia, and disappeared; in July 2015, 109 Uyghurs were handed to the Chinese government by the Thai authorities and disappeared; in July 2017, over twenty Uyghur students in Egypt were deported back to China and disappeared. More recently, in April 2018, a young 22-year-old Uyghur asylum seeker in Germany was mistakenly returned to China and has not been heard from since. Attempts from his lawyer and the German government have proved unsuccessful.”[1]

It is strange that even after so many years of unrest and conflict, the Uyghur people have not received any help. Chinese authorities are still taking extreme measures against the people in the “re-education center” and families of these people trapped in the center have no whereabouts of each other. I believe that because of the action of few Uyghur men, the whole community should not be subjected to such extreme measures which are depriving them of their basic human rights. Chinese authorities should be made answerable to all the above-stated facts so the world could know about the actual truth and this blame game could end once and for all.


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