For a Uyghur scholar, the daily reality in Xinjiang-East Turkestan is far worse than what recently released documents show. Confucians see those who are "different" as traitors. China’s Communist Party also ostracises Tibetans, Mongols, Christians, Falun Gong and foreigners. The international community has been paralysed by Beijing’s threats.
Ankara (AsiaNews) – “The conditions of the Uyghur people are much more tragic than what has been described so far” in the international media, said Abdulreşit Celil Karluk, a Uyghur sociologist at Haci Bayram Veli University in Ankara, speaking to AsiaNews.
For the expert on ethnic issues in China, “Beijing has managed to paralyse the action of the international community through threats and corruption.”
According to the United Nations, more than a million Uyghurs (out of a population of nearly 10 million) and other Turkic Islamic minorities are held arbitrarily in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in western China.
For Beijing, these are educational and training centres to fight terrorism, separatism and Islamic extremism. But for human rights groups and many governments, including the United States and the European Union, these are internment camps.
In a report made public on 1 March, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) claims that more than 80,000 Uyghurs are working in factories outside Xinjiang as part of the government's "re-education" programme.
According to the study, these Chinese citizens are subjected to "forced labour", exploited by 83 major global brands, including Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Mitsubishi, Siemens, Sony, Nike, Adidas and LaCoste as well as Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
The ASPI report comes shortly after the publication of documents that shed light on the bureaucratic aspects of the ongoing ethnic-religious repression in what the Uyghurs call "Eastern Turkestan". What follows is the full interview with Karluk.
Prof Karluk, new documents and information on the repression endured by the Uighurs in Xinjiang have come out. Do you think they are reliable?
What has recently been published does not fully reflect the reality in which the Uyghurs find themselves in their own land. According to the bureaucratic tradition of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), orders and directives in writing do not correspond to what is actually implemented. Therefore, the conditions of the Uyghur people are much more tragic than what has been described so far. Local Party leaders, especially in Xinjiang and Tibet, take repressive measures to please their superiors and achieve career advancements.
Many observers argue that the CCP wants to erase Xinjiang’s Islamic traditions because they pose a threat to China's socio-political stability. Is this the goal of Communist authorities?
The goal of the Party is not to massacre or uproot the Uyghurs because they are Muslims. [However,] The philosophy of the Han Chinese, China’s majority ethnic group, does not accept diversity and coexistence between different cultures. There is an old Confucian saying: "Those who are excluded from my clan are traitors". The CCP has the same hostile attitude towards Tibetans, Mongols, Christians, members of Falun Gong and, in general, all foreigners.
In Confucian tradition, differences are a threat. The CCP's thinking is more authoritarian than the Confucian one and sees the Uyghurs as a danger because they are a "different" nation, ready to build their own modern state, with its own cultural reference system. In China, the Hui are also Muslim, but the Party does not consider them dangerous because they have adhered to Confucian principles and accepted their "sinisation".
Do you believe that the international community, in particular Turkey, is doing enough to stop repression in Xinjiang?
Beijing has managed to paralyse the action of the international community through threats and corruption. The same is true for Turkey, which, due to ethnic, linguistic and cultural affinities, should have the fate of the Uyghur people at heart. Ankara and the rest of the world should do more to end the crackdown against the Uyghurs in China, which should be considered a crime against humanity.