Uighurs, The: The History and Legacy of the Turkic Muslim Minority Group in Asia

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Synopsis

For the most part, the Uighurs are based in East Turkestan, more commonly referred to as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. This prodigious plot of land boasts a total land area of over 1.665 million km², or 640,000 mi², and is, as China puts it, the largest administrative division in the country. The pro-independence inhabitants of East Turkestan, on the other hand, have been fighting for decades to regain sole control of their motherland – as of now, to no avail.

The Uighurs' active pursuit for independence is not an isolated phenomenon. It is reminiscent of the ongoing friction between Taiwan and China, as well as Hong Kong and China, the independence-seekers of the former states struggling to sever its ties with the Red Dragon. That being said, unlike Taiwan, which is managed by an entirely separate constitutional democratic government, and Hong Kong, classified as a special administrative region run by a Chief Executive and Executive Council with its own judicial system, Xinjiang, though technically autonomous, is still very much under the Chinese yoke. 

Even more alarming, insiders say its people are imperiled, and this once thriving culture itself is no longer inching, but hurtling towards extinction. An untold number of Uighurs have, and continue to vanish without a trace. The Chinese government claims that the 13,000 or so imprisoned (and executed) since 2014 were radical separatists and “murderous devils” with poisonous vendettas.

A fraction of the Uighurs have been connected to violent acts of terrorism, but the often flimsy and incomplete evidence presented to defense teams certainly warrants some pause for thought. On top of the countless others supposedly snatched off the streets for speaking their minds, fostering their customs, or simply being kin to Uighurs who fled and turned refugee, over a million have been bussed to so-called “re-education camps.”

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