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Argumentative Essay: Uighur Genocide Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 14th, 2022

Introduction

Genocide is a crime that is punished by international law. The United Nations (UN, n.d.) defines genocide as any acts committed to destroying a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group by killing, seriously harming, or inflicting conditions aimed at the destruction of the group. Additionally, preventing birth or forcibly transferring children of one group to another is also considered a form of genocide. A total of 149 nations, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China, ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UN, n.d.).

This implies that all these nations agreed to avoid, prevent, and punish genocide by implementing necessary internal and external policies (UN, n.d.). It appears that having all major countries ratify the convention would eliminate genocide from the world. However, many researchers agree that policies against the Uighurs imposed by the Chinese government can be considered a form of genocide (Fallon, 2019; Finley, 2020; Finnegan, 2020). Indeed, the situation in Xinjiang is peculiar due to the unfair treatment of the local cultural minority.

The region of Xinjiang, China’s Uighur Autonomous Region, has high economic, political, and strategic importance for China for a wide variety of reasons. Its reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil account for roughly a quarter of all Chinese natural resources (Fallon, 2019). Additionally, the area is a crucial region of the “One Road, One Belt Initiative,” which is a project to link the economies of China and other countries of Eurasia (Fallon, 2019).

However, the local population, a Turkic Muslim nation of Uighurs, has been trying to gain independence from China for the last century, which causes much disturbance to the region (Fallon, 2019). To subdue the nation to Chinese rule, the government implemented a series of measures, including forced abortions and sterilization, unlawful imprisonments, and discrimination on the basis of culture (Finley, 2020). The present paper claims that even though China presents the oppression against Uighurs as part of an anti-separatism campaign, it should be considered genocide that is to be prosecuted.

Policy of Exclusion

The Chinese government is trying to exclude Uighurs from society under the veil of the anti-extremism, anti-separatism, and anti-terrorism campaigns. After the events of September 11, 2001, the Chinese government launched its own war on terror. According to Chung (2002), the Chinese government started to label all the people that fight for the independence of Xinjiang as terrorists. The Chinese government claimed that the cultural group received funds from Al Qaeda, which made the group potentially dangerous (Chung, 2002).

As a result, China started to profile all Uighurs as potential terrorists, requiring them to provide DNA and biometric samples (Fallon, 2019). The rhetoric also helped to control separatism and extremism in the region through arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and summary executions (Chung, 2002). Thus, the War on Terrorism declared by the US helped the Chinese government to implement a series of questionable policies that raise the concern of international observers.

Numerous investigations confirmed that there were no signs of excessive danger of extremism and terrorism in the region. The separatism moods were common for the region since the start of the twentieth century (Fallon, 2019). However, after the fall of the Soviet Union, when many Islamic states received their independence, separatism became a common idea among Uighurs (Finley, 2020). As a reaction to these moods, the Chinese government started a policy of mass colonization of the region with Han Chinese representatives to reduce the percentage of Uighurs in the area (Fallon, 2019). The idea of the government appeared simple – to replace the unwanted Uighurs with loyal Han Chinese.

The events of September 11 helped the Chinese government to further enforce the policy using the global fear of terrorism to its advantage. International investigations revealed no signs of Uighurs being financed by Al Qaeda (Chung, 2002). Moreover, it is not legal or sensible to view all people of a cultural group as potential terrorists on the basis of the possible connection between some Uighurs and Al Qaeda.

Thus, even though the Chinese government is trying to represent the situation in Xinjiang as a war on terrorism, it is a clear attempt to deprive people of the cultural group of their rights. This can be seen as “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction,” which can be considered genocide according to the UN’s definition (UN, n.d., para. 4). Therefore, the policy that excludes Uighurs from society by depriving them of their rights should be considered genocide.

Birth Control

Uighurs are being massively forced to have sterilizations and abortions, which is a step towards eliminating the national group. Uighur women were reported to have been massively taken to camps, where numerous crimes were committed against them (Finley, 2020). In particular, Uighur women reported forced insertions of intrauterine devices, repeated hits in the stomach, forced abortions, and pregnancy prevention injections inside these camps (Finley, 2020).

Some women were tortured into confessing birth control crimes and self-inflicted abortions (Finley, 2020). Data demonstrates that, in 2016, China invested tens of millions of dollars into sterilization programs, which resulted that 30% of women of child-bearing age in some Uighur-dominated areas reported being sterile (Finley, 2020). Thus, data demonstrate evident crimes that can be classified as “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” (UN, n.d., para. 4). These measures are considered a sign of genocide against Uighurs.

The Chinese government refutes the accusation of birth control by saying that Uighurs were subject to forced sterilization and abortion no more than other ethnical groups. In 2001, China implemented a policy under which each Han Chinese family was allowed to have only one child, while racial minorities were allowed two children (Finley, 2020). Everyone not obeying the law was fined, which motivated many women to have abortions or to be sterilized (Fenley, 2020). Indeed, China’s n National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) implemented policies to control the entire population rather than the minority group (Fallon, 2019).

However, evidence published by the Associated Press in June 2020 demonstrated that there was a major disproportion between the number of sterilized Uighur women and the number of sterilized women from other cultural groups (Finley, 2020).

Data from open-source data provided by the Chinese government shows that “over the past four years, hundreds of thousands of Turkic Muslim women have been subjected to mandatory pregnancy checks, forcible insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs), and forced sterilizations and abortions” (Finley, 2020, p. 10). These practices fell sharply in other regions apart from China’s Uighur Autonomous Region (Finley, 2020). This demonstrates that the claims made by the Chinese government that birth control measures toward Uighur women were similar to those taken towards all women are untrue. Therefore, mass abortions and sterilization of Uighurs should be considered genocide.

Cultural Genocide

The Chinese government is trying to erase the culture of Uighurs, which is a sign of cultural genocide. The culture of Uighurs is associated with religious beliefs, customs, traditions, and language spoken by the group. The Chinese government is trying to erase the cultural identity of Uighurs through threats and forced re-education. According to Finnegan (2020), numerous Uighurs are being put in high-security camps without significant reasons.

These re-education camps aim at removing religious beliefs from the minds of Uighurs, as the racial minority is being repeatedly punished for practicing their faith (Finnegan, 2020). Additionally, representatives of Uighur culture are forced to sing praise to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), memorize and cite rules applicable only to the cultural group, and speak only Mandarin Chinese (Fallon, 2019). In other words, Uighurs are being punished for not abandoning their cultural identity and accept the ideology of communism.

The Chinese government is denying the idea that these camps are forced to oppress the Turkic minority group. The authorities claim that these camps are re-education camps, where Uighurs are reintroduced to society (Finnegan, 2020). According to the official explanation, the re-education camp help Uighurs to acquire the necessary skills to become valuable members of Chinese society (Finnegan, 2020). Government reports demonstrate that the majority of detainees entered the workforce after re-education and became happier (Finnegan, 2020).

Interviews with detainees and ex-wardens of these camps demonstrate that these claims are far from reality (Fallon, 2019; Finley, 2020; Finnegan, 2020). The interviews demonstrate that Uighurs in these camps are tortured, beaten, and psychologically pressured to abandon their beliefs (Finnegan, 2020). Thus, the described actions should be considered cultural genocide, as Uighurs are forced to give up their cultural identity.

The problem is that there is no official term for cultural genocide. The Genocide Convention of 1948 omitted cultural genocide as a term, which implied that only the physical being of minority groups was protected (Finnegan, 2020). The punishments for crimes against cultural identity are minimal, which makes people around the world unprotected from cultural genocide (Finnegan, 2020). The example of the oppression of Uighurs should become a sign for international organizations to revisit the definition of genocide.

Conclusion

The steps made by the Chinese government to destroy Uighurs as a cultural group are the signs of genocide, which should not be allowed in the modern world. The Chinese government is trying to exclude the Uighurs from society by depriving them of the right to self-determination. The Chinese authorities control the reproduction of Uighurs through forced sterilization and abortion. Moreover, China uses re-education camps to force the representatives of the minority group to abandon their cultural identities.

The UN nations should trial and prosecute the individuals responsible for these crimes against humanity, which is feasible according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. If China does not cooperate, countries can impose political and economic sanctions, which proved their effectiveness in international practice (Fallon, 2019). The UN should prosecute genocide to prevent future cases from happening.

References

Chung, C. (2002). China’s “War on Terror”: September 11 and Uighur Separatism. Foreign Affairs, 81(4), 8-12. Web.

Fallon, J. E. (2019). China’s crime against Uyghurs is a form of genocide. Fourth World Journal, 18(1), 76-88.

Finley, J. (2020). Why scholars and activists increasingly fear a Uyghur genocide in Xinjiang. Journal of Genocide Research, 23(3), 348-370.

Finnegan, C. (2020). The Uyghur minority in China: a case study of cultural genocide, minority rights and the insufficiency of the international legal framework in preventing state-imposed extinction. Laws, 9(1), 1-20.

United Nations. (n.d.). . Web.

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