Being part of an ethnic minority group is hard. There exists so many different forms of prejudice and injustice against them. However, the Muslim ethnic minorities living in China have a new battle to face, one where there’s constant surveillance on them, and one where they risk losing their cultural identity in the end.
The Xinjiang region in China is home to many ethnic minority groups, and many of these groups, such as the Turkic Uighur, are taken into vocational training camps to help train them for jobs.
Xinjiang was annexed by the Chinese government in 1949, and since then has been trying to control the people living there, as they had viewed them as dangerous in some ways. The Chinese government claims that they had given Xinjiang autonomous rule, but the increase of surveillance cameras throughout the region and the creation of a police state make one think otherwise. “Because China is very powerful both politically and military, it’s hard for other countries to intervene,” said Ms. MacEnulty, a social studies teacher at Bronx Science. Similarly, Anika Thapar ’21, said “I do not know much about this, but I do know that the countries supporting China, such as Russia, mainly share the same ideologies as China.”
Ms. MacEnulty believes that the reason why ethnic minority groups like the Uighur are targeted is because China is a primarily atheist country. Due to this, only a few religions are tolerated, and Islam is not one of them. Since China does not tolerate Islam, some of their polices forces the Uighur to stop or break some of their religious habits. For example, Muslims have been forced to stop reading the Quran and have been forced to eat pork, which is against their religion. At the end of the day, the Chinese government also wants to maintain its political power, as it fears that people in Xinjiang will establish their own autonomous region. Thapar also believes that the Chinese government also may be targeting the Uighurs due to their history of conflict as stated before.
The actions that the Chinese government have committed may have caused different reactions, but for Ms. MacEnulty and Anika Thapar, it is one of disgust. Ms. MacEnulty’s reaction is “one of dismay. The idea that people are being rounded up and put into camps simply because of who they are is frightening.” For Thapar, she “was disgusted.” She continues,“the Chinese government has no right to incarcerate innocent people due to their religious beliefs.”
Thapar also feels that there should be an increase on some sort of coverage for this issue on social media. “Disappointingly, I have not seen much media coverage on what’s occurring in Xinjiang, nor have I seen much outrage on social media. While it’s not always reliable, social media is a core aspect of spreading awareness on different issues. By using social media, people can be informed on what’s happening in Xinjiang, and a difference can be made.”
“Disappointingly, I have not seen much media coverage on what’s occurring in Xinjiang, nor have I seen much outrage on social media. While it’s not always reliable, social media is a core aspect of spreading awareness on different issues. By using social media, people can be informed on what’s happening in Xinjiang, and a difference can be made,” said Anika Thapar ’21.