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The Uyghurs are Turkic ethnic minorities who make up the majority of East Turkestan, which gained independence in 1949 only to be forced under China's rule later that year as Xinjiang.
Separatists movements for independent Muslim states in Central Asia were openly supported in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, but soon after that the demonstrations in Beijing died and activists vanished.
With the migration of young and qualified Han Chinese to Xinjiang came the systemic suppression of Uyghurs starting with unfair job opportunities which favoured the Chinese.
Under China's rule, the Uyghurs have experienced major restrictions regarding their culture and religion. Xinjiang had fewer mosques in comparison to other Islamic states and had stricter supervision on religious schools.
In 2013, Amnesty International released a report on Xinjiang showcasing authorities criminalising any activities and expressions they believed to be "illegal religious and separatist activities."
In 2014, many government divisions in Xinjiang banned Muslim civil servants from fasting during Ramadhan, the Muslim holy month. This was a recurring practice.
This build-up of unrest which was instigated by the 1990 riots and escalated to bloodshed in 2009 during the riots at Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital. 200 people died and authorities claim that most had been Han Chinese. What followed this violence was more Uyghurs detained as China increased security in Xinjiang.
In April 2013, 27 peopled died as police open-fired at a group of people the Chinese media described as a "knife-carrying mob attacking local government buildings."
This inconsistent and opaque journalism was the cause of China's tight censorship, which made fact recalling of events difficult. However, in recent years more large-scale violent events were finally brought to light.
The largest event of them all was the reveal of the "Xinjiang Re-educational Camps" in 2017 built by the Communist Party of China. Presently, there are 85 identified camps around Xinjiang.
In 2019, leaked documents named "The China Cables" about these camps were made known to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which included The Guardian and BBC Panorama in the UK. It was revealed that the Uyghurs and Kazakhs in these camps were subjected to "rape, torture, indoctrination, and brainwashing with the goal of them to renounce their religion and pledge allegiance to the Communist Party of China." Many Uyghurs have been abducted from their families to be put into these camps.
As of 2020, it is estimated that there are around 1 million predominantly Muslim Uyghurs currently held in these concentration camps. The indoctrination and torture include forcing the Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol, both of which are against the Islamic faith. The documents also stated: "For those who harbour vague understandings, negative attitudes or even feelings of resistance... carry out education transformation to ensure that results are achieved."
This brainwashing scheme has been implemented to transform and erase the Muslim Uyghurs of Xinjiang. It is cultural genocide.
Sources: BBC, Fair Planet, CNN, PBS News Hour, Vox
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