THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
August 13, 2018
The Intercept

One Million Muslim Uighurs Have Been Detained by China, the U.N. Says. Where's the Global Outrage?

How is this not anything other than one of the biggest, and most underreported, human rights crises in the world today?

by Mehdi Hasan

IT WAS ON September 16, 2001, five days after the 9/11 attacks, that President George W. Bush declared his now-infamous "war on terrorism." Other governments around the world followed suit -- but few matched the speed, intensity, and sheer cynicism with which the autocrats in Beijing aligned themselves with the Bush administration.

Dogged by protests and revolts from a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority called the Uighurs in the vast and autonomous Central Asian border region of Xinjiang -- or East Turkestan, as it is historically referred to by the Uighurs -- the Chinese spotted an opportunity. In the weeks and months after 9/11, Beijing began submitting documents to the United Nations alleging that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, or ETIM -- a group that few people had ever heard of, or could even confirm the existence of -- was a "major component of the terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden" and "an important part of his terrorist forces." By September 2002, both the U.N. and the United States had listed ETIM as a "terrorist organization" -- throwing the Uighurs under the geopolitical bus.

One. Million. People. There are around 11 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang, which means that almost one in 10 of them has been detained.

Fast forward 17 years: On Friday, a panel of U.N. human rights experts said Uighurs in Xinjiang were being treated as "enemies of the state" and announced that it had received credible reports about the "arbitrary and mass detention of almost 1 million Uighurs" in "counter-extremism centers."

One. Million. People. It's an astonishingly high number. In the context of the Uighur population as a whole, it's even more shocking: There are around 11 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang, which means that almost one in 10 of them has been detained, according to the U.N. How is this not anything other than one of the biggest, and most underreported, human rights crises in the world today? . . .

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