In March 2017, China’s government launched a mass crackdown against the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group who live primarily in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, as well as other Turkic Muslim minorities in the region. The crackdown, allegedly a counter-extremism measure, includes implementation of a widespread arbitrary detention policy with the aim of “re-educating” the Uyghurs. An estimated 1 million people are being detained in these internment camps for minor violations, without formal charges or access to legal representation.
According to Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on the issue, there may be as many as 1,200 camps – at least one for every township and county in Xinjiang. While authorities in Beijing call the camps “vocational training centers,” claiming that detainees are taught language, culture and vocational skills, reports of political indoctrination and physical torture suggest a different narrative. For example, reports have claimed inmates are forced to study Communist propaganda and chant slogans in praise of Xi Jinping in order to earn a meal.
Repression of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region stems from longstanding ethnic tensions, mainly between the Han Chinese, the Uyghurs and the government. Factors such as the mass state-sponsored migration of Han Chinese, suppression of a unique Uyghur identity and violent handling of Uyghur separatism have resulted in a surge in violence in recent years. While the Chinese government argues that the crackdown is a necessary security measure, its arbitrary detention of the Uyghurs, reported use of torture and other human rights violations against detainees, and the transformation of Xinjiang into a surveillance state violate international law.
Thousands of Uyghurs have sought refuge in Turkey after escaping Beijing's brutal crackdown against them. Ethnic and religious ties between Turkey and the Uyghurs have made building new lives in Istanbul easier for them. However, they are aware that back at home, oppression against Uyghurs continues. They do not know the whereabouts of their familie or even if they are alive, but they believes Chinese authorities detained them. The crackdown against Uyghurs targeted their families for years but that it worsened after they fled
Thus, while we do not have access to the detention camps in China, ICNA Relief Canada is serving Uyghur community in Turkey through following 3 programs:
We are also trying to bring some Uygur families to Canada through our Settlement and Refugee Sponsorship (SRS) Program.
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