China’s Policy of Assimilation: The Impact on Uighur Muslim Minority
The Silent War Against Uighur Language and Culture
UN human rights experts have recently reported that China’s President Xi Jinping continues his policy of assimilation against the Uighur Muslim minority. The Chinese government is allegedly taking increasingly systematic action against this minority in the Xinjiang region, which includes forcefully separating Uighur children from their parents and educating them under state-run boarding schools according to the government’s vision. The experts have warned of potential human rights violations.
Deep concerns have been expressed by the experts that in these boarding schools, education is delivered almost exclusively in the official language, with minimal or no usage of the Uighur language in teaching. Such separation of children from their families could eventually lead to their forced adaptation to Mandarin, the majority language in China, and replacement of their customs with the cultural practices of the Han.
The Plight of Uighur Children
According to the experts, the children most affected by this forced state measure are Uighur children whose parents are either in exile or in the Chinese government’s internment camps. The exact number of children affected is unclear. However, observers and human rights activists estimate that Beijing has forced hundreds of thousands of people in Xinjiang into reeducation camps against their will, in some cases subjecting them to torture and forced labor. The number of children affected is presumed to be proportionally high.
Beijing’s Internment Camps: A Hidden Reality
The camps established by Beijing for the violent reeducation of Uighur people have been a subject of longstanding criticism. Beijing maintains strict secrecy around them, and press teams are only allowed into the region with prior registration and under strict state supervision. A data leak last year, however, unveiled the brutal conditions under which the Uighurs are held captive by Chinese authorities.
Loss of Connection to Family and Community
According to the UN experts, authorities treat the children of exiles or internees as orphans and place them not only in boarding schools but also in preschools and orphanages, severing them from their original community. Teachers also face severe penalties if they speak Uighur with the children. This is predicted to inevitably lead to a loss of connection to their families and communities and weaken their attachment to their cultural, religious, and linguistic identities.
As the world watches, the silent assimilation of Uighur Muslim minority continues in China, raising serious concerns on humanitarian grounds and calling for global attention to this dire situation.
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