Uyghur News Recap: July 15–22, 2022

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, visits the community of Guyuanxiang in the Tianshan District in Urumqi in northwestern China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, July 13, 2022.
In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, visits the community of Guyuanxiang in the Tianshan District in Urumqi in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, July 13, 2022.

Here’s a summary of Uyghur-related news around the world:

Xi signals no change to Uyghur policy in Xinjiang

On a visit this week to China’s Xinjiang region, President Xi Jinping showed no sign of rolling back policies that the U.S. and many European countries have described as a cultural genocide of predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. During an official “inspection tour,” Xi said that efforts should be renewed to ensure that Islam in China is “Chinese in orientation” and that practitioners of faith are united closely with the Communist Party. Xi also called for educating and guiding members of all ethnic groups to identify with the Chinese nation, culture and Communist Party.

Imprisoned Uyghur intellectuals communicate plight through poems

Some Uyghur intellectuals held in Chinese prisons are writing poetry about the Chinese government’s increased repression against Uyghurs.

Kazakh woman struggles to resettle after arbitrary detention in China

A Kazakh businesswoman from Jeminay in the Xinjiang region of China is struggling to resettle in her ancestral homeland of Kazakhstan after having been detained for 18 months in a Xinjiang internment camp. Chinese authorities have been accused of arbitrarily detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic Turks in a network of such facilities.

US allies leaning toward banning products made by Uyghur forced labor

A U.S. official said that allies in Europe and North America are moving to ban Uyghur forced labor products coming from China.

China lobbies against release of UN Uyghur report

In a letter, China is urging U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet not to release a report on human rights violations in Xinjiang. During her visit to China in May, Bachelet was accused of being soft on China regarding its Uyghur policy. She plans to step down from her post at the end of August.

In brief

Xi’s visit to Xinjiang and his speeches signal new measures to assimilate local Turkic ethnic groups such as Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Kirghiz into a Han-Chinese-centric identity. According to experts, Xi’s second visit to the Uyghur region as president is the start of a new era for cultural and ethnic eradication of local ethnic groups.

Quote of note

Where the words are banned to be said
The flowers are not allowed to blossom
And the birds cannot sing freely

— Gulnisa Imin, a Uyghur-literature teacher and an acclaimed poet who was among the roughly 1 million Uyghurs sent to China’s internment camps in 2018. A year later, she was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, according to The Atlantic.