Genocide in China: Han Chinese and Uyghurs Ethnicity

 Genocides happen when an expansive number of individuals are killed in an “ethnic, national, racial, or religious group”. These mass killings are usually in an attempt to wipe out either an entire or a certain extent of this specific group's existence. Genocides lead to grave injuries and harm to a group of people both mental and bodily. The period of time is not only where the mass killings take place, but numerous people lose family members, are forced to leave their homes, and are raped, and tortured. This is something very horrifying that people have to go through and it is devastating to learn that this is the reality of the world. There are 10 stages that genocide develops into. Learning about the 10 stages of genocide will help us as individuals know that if something like this seems to be arising we could link it to these stages to find out whether it could possibly be a genocide. After distinguishing this we have the opportunity to prevent it from arising by altering the consequences with preventive measures.

The first stage is classification when different cultures are classified into different groups depending on their “ethnicity, race, religion or nationality”. An example of this stage is the Rwandan genocide that had a conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, these ethnic groups had the same religion and language, however, they classified themselves according to their appearance. The second stage is symbolization, this is when symbols or names are used to classify each of the groups, for example during the Holocaust one of the groups wore a yellow star this symbolized the Jews that were under the rule of the Nazis. The third stage is Discrimination when a superior group tries to undermine the inferior group using “law, custom and political power”. The fourth stage is Dehumanization, one group belittles the human rights of the other, an example of this is also during the Rwandan genocide when the media referred to the Tutsis by describing them as cockroaches on media. The fifth stage is Organization this is when the genocide is planned and arranged according to what will happen next. The sixth stage is Polarization, extremist groups make the groups hate each other by using propaganda and terrorism. The seventh stage is Preparation this when the particular group actually executes the arrangement of killing the targeted group. The eighth stage is Persecution this is when the targeted group has no human rights as a result of a change in the law and justice system. Last but not least there is the ninth stage that is Extermination, this is the point of the genocide where there are mass killings and the majority of the people of a group are swept away. The tenth stage is the last stage that genocide develops into and it is Denial, denial is when evidence of the genocide is hidden in attempts to cover up the occurrence of the event.

The west side region on China is called Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, this is because about 45% of its population are Uyghurs. They are a Muslim community in China whose ethnicity and culture are central Asian. Activists say that the government attempts to gradually get rid of “Uygur’s religious, commercial and cultural activities”. China's largest ethnicity is Han Chinese. There is discrimination in employee recruitment towards the Han that has caused an uprising of many riots against them. In the year 2009 in Urumqi, about 200 people were killed and numerous others were killed through other random violent acts. China declared that it was Xinjiang that lived outside the country that was at fault for all the lack of peace. The Chinese authorities are prejudiced toward the Muslims, making assumptions that their religion means they have ties to extremist groups like al-Qaeda. Ever since there has been an ongoing conflict. The Chinese government claim to secure the country however, these are only acts of discrimination. Their security measures involve keeping Xinjiang on virtual lockdown, having more than about 7,300 police stations to monitor the surroundings, they took away passports of many Uyghurs, and in some areas, parents were not allowed to give their children Muslim names. Around the year 2017, August all the people were obliged to download an app, a surveillance app that notified the authorities for any illegal files. Human rights organizations say that more than about 1 million Uyghurs and Muslims are sent to camps located in Xinjiang were they are manipulated into adapting non-religious Chinese beliefs. China claims that they are doing this because it is beneficial for the country's safety.

Due to the fact that the conflict in China is showing similarities between the 10 stages of the genocide, in my opinion, it may bring about genocide. After linking all of these points to the stages of the genocide the situation most resembles the first stage classification and the third stage discrimination. Although the people live in the same country they are classified into different groups like the Uyghurs and the Han Chinese due to the division between their ethnicity and belief systems. Unfortunately, discrimination can happen often and has been the starting point of many difficult struggles throughout history. A few examples of points in this conflict that I think discrimination was portrayed could be when the Chinese authorities were making assumptions that their religion means they have ties to extremist groups like al-Qaeda, therefore, they made numerous sorts of security and claimed it was for the safety of the country. About more than 1 million Uighurs the Muslims are sent to camps where they are manipulated to go against Islam in several different ways. “There are media reports of inmates being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, which is forbidden to Muslims, as well as reports of torture and death”. They even “recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day”. At first, the Chinese authorities denied that there were ever any camps but then later agreed and claimed that they are political re-education camps. There are several different camps that are hidden. Most of the Uyghurs are cramped in these detention camps and are living in horrible conditions. “Every household, every family had three or four people taken away, said Omer Kanat, executive committee chairman of the World Uyghur Congress, an umbrella group for the Uyghur diaspora”. It is mostly men that are taken to these camps.

After genocides from the past history, we are able to identify whether a particular conflict is a genocide or not through the different stages. Overall I think the stages of the genocide could not always be helpful as when we are linking it to the Xinjiang conflict, there do seem to be similarities from both the first and third stage but doesn’t have a lot of the same stages and does not exactly follow the 10 stage model. From this, we know that the Xinjiang conflict has passed the classification and discrimination stage and after looking at past genocides we can tell that there are several possibilities for the future outcome but there is a high chance that if this continues it will end in violence. The genocide stages are definitely useful because they show the different steps that genocide could develop into and I think this really helps an individual learn about the possible outcomes of what it may be like.    

07 July 2022
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