While human rights organizations often focus on Beijing's repression of Tibetans and rights advocates throughout China, one group of people, the Uyghurs, has not received the attention a plight of their magnitude should warrant.
This could, in part, be the result of Uyghurs being concentrated in Xinjiang, whose remoteness makes reporting on the situation there more onerous. Beijing's cynical exploitation of the US-led "war on terrorism" since Sept. 11, 2001, as it represses this Muslim minority is also part of the reason why their suffering remains largely unknown. Readers may recall Huseyin Celil, the Canadian Uyghur who in April was sentenced to life in prison for alleged "terrorist activities." Celil, sadly, still languishes in jail and Ottawa has grown conspicuously silent on the matter. In the past six years, more than 3,000 Uyghurs have been arrested on similar charges.
Last week, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rebiya Kadeer, who lives in exile in the US after spending five years in prison for defending Uyghur rights (or, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang (
Meanwhile, in an Oct. 18 letter to the National People's Congress, Amnesty International called on Chinese authorities to end a practice known as reeducation through labor (RTL). Amnesty reports that hundreds of thousands of Chinese have been affected by RTL, which can be imposed for "crimes" -- such as criticizing the government or following banned beliefs -- that are not considered serious enough to be punishable by criminal law.
While no one has so far come out and put two and two together, the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of women from a specific ethnic group and religious belief bears all the hallmarks of the RTL policy and promises to be as devastating to Uyghur communities as the reeducation program during the Cultural Revolution was for the educated classes. The removal of 240,000 women of reproductive age (most of them are believed to be between 16 and 25 years old) from a population of approximately 8.3 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang will have severe implications for the birth rate there.
As was the case during the Cultural Revolution, Beijing hopes the women subjected to forced transfer will marry Chinese from a different background -- in the present case non-Uyghurs/Muslims -- and thereby break the bonds that tie them to their community.
This, however, is only a new rung in Beijing's long history of trying to erase Uyghur identity. Starting in 1990, China began promoting mixed marriages in Xinjiang, offering Uyghurs better social benefits if they married non-Uyghur Chinese and, conversely, 3,000 yuan (US$402) stipends for Han Chinese marrying Uyghurs. Birth control, forced abortion and sterilization (which the People's Daily claimed in 2001 was "voluntary") have also been reported.
The ramifications of such practices on the social cohesion of Uyghurs have yet to be fully understood, but it is clear they represent an attempt to assimilate the ethnic minority, with the long-term objective of watering down, if not altogether eradicating, its identity. In other words, we are witnessing nothing less than ethnic cleansing. Also, as international conventions define a child as anyone below the age of 18, the forced employment of many Uyghur women is child labor.
Surely all those women cannot be "terrorists." Their only "crime" is being female and belonging to the Uyghur ethnic minority.
Since COVID-19 broke out in Taiwan, there has been a fair amount of news regarding discrimination and “witch hunts” against medical personnel, people under self-quarantine and other targets, such as the students of a school where an infection was discovered. Quarantine breakers are almost certainly on the loose and it is only natural for people to be vigilant. One in Chiayi was found by accident at a traffic stop because his helmet was not fastened. However, those who follow the rules by quarantining themselves should be encouraged to keep up the good work in a difficult situation, instead of being
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator-at-large Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) has said that there is a huge difference between Chinese military aircraft circling Taiwan along the edges of its airspace and invading Taiwan’s airspace. He also said that whether it is US or Chinese aircraft flying along or encircling Taiwan’s airspace, there is no legal basis to say that such actions imply a clear provocation of Taiwan, and asked the Ministry of National Defense not to mislead the public. People who hear this might think that it is not a very Taiwanese thing to say. US military activity in the vicinity of Taiwan
As the nation welcomes home Taiwanese who had been stranded in China’s Hubei Province — arguably one of the most dangerous places on Earth since the novel coronavirus outbreak began in its capital, Wuhan, late last year — problems surrounding the “quasi-charter flights” that brought them back have been largely overlooked. The media used the term to describe the two flights dispatched by Taiwan’s state-run China Airlines because they do not count as charter flights. Taiwanese wanting to board those flights had to travel — most likely by train — more than 1,000km from Hubei to Shanghai Pudong International Airport
As the COVID-19 pandemic spins out of control, many parts of the world are experiencing shortages of medical masks and other protective equipment. I am studying in Washington state, which at the time of writing is the US state that has suffered the largest number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. The week before last, UW Medicine — an organization that includes the University of Washington School of Medicine and associated medical centers and clinics — sent its volunteers an e-mail asking the public to make masks and donate them to hospitals. Attached to the message was a mask donation