The Roots of Cultural Genocide in Xinjiang ($)

China’s actions against the Uyghur people over the last four years recall the cultural genocides carried out by other settler colonial powers in previous eras. Much like indigenous peoples in the Americas and Australasia, Uyghurs have faced mass incarceration and internmentthe destruction of cultural sites and symbols, displacement, family separation, and forced assimilation. Beijing’s recent policies in Xinjiang represent the culmination of a long and gradual colonization of the Uyghur homeland.


China Has Chosen Cultural Genocide in Xinjiang—For Now

Some members of the Uighur community say the abuse goes further. They allege that China is committing a cultural genocide. Cultural genocide means the elimination of a group’s identity, through measures such as forcibly transferring children away from their families, restricting the use of a national language, banning cultural activities, or destroying schools, religious institutions, or memory sites. Unlike “physical” genocide, it doesn’t have to be violent. Uighur activists point to the forced separation of families, the targeting of scholars and other community leaders for detention and “reeducation,” the bans on Uighur language instruction in schools, the razing of mosques, and the onerous restrictions on signifiers of cultural identity such as hair, dress, and baby names as evidence that China is trying to eradicate the Uighur identity.

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