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What’s happening in Xinjiang, Tibet is part of Chinese colonisation process, says UN expert

Thu, 18 Apr 2024   |  Reading Time: 3 minutes

New York [US], April 18 (ANI): The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, in collaboration with the World Uyghur Congress and Uyghur Human Rights Project, organised a conference in New York titled ‘Beyond Concentration Camps: Forced Assimilation and China’s Colonial Boarding Schools” to address the cultural assimilation of the Uyghur community in East Turkestan.
The speakers included social activists, human rights advocates, representatives and delegates from the World Uyghur Congress, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, a social organisation from the US.
During the press conference, Fernand De Varennes, former UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, raised China’s deliberations to strategically destroy the Uyghur civilization and culture under its forceful policy of residential schools.
In his statement, De Varennes mentioned that “Sometimes I get the impression that we should name what is occurring in China, in Xinjiang, and also in Tibet, as this is not only a phenomenon of a series of massive violations of human rights, but something much bigger, in fact, much more systematic. And the name of the process is colonisation, erasure, and elimination of a civilization and a people in China”.
He further said, “I would say that what is occurring with Tibetans, with Uyghurs, and perhaps also with few other minorities, is a form of Han nationalism, adopting a series of measures that involve massive violations of international human rights”.

While highlighting the efforts made by the UN on the issue of cultural destruction, the former UN Special Rapporteur said, “A number of independent experts of the United Nations, including the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have issued a number of reports, communications, and responses to allegations of massive violations. Many of us are quite disturbed by the scale of what is happening, but also the level of atrocity and grave violations of human rights involved.”
“We all know of the massive internment of between one and two million Uyghurs, as well as some other minorities, in large-scale arbitrary detention. And this is probably the largest detention of civilian populations since the Second World War. it is about or was about 10 or 20 per cent of the adult population, I think, in Xinjiang at the time,” he added.
While elaborating on the issue and quoting the work of Tomoya Obokata, a Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, De Varennes further mentioned that ” In Tibet and Xinjiang, Chinese authorities had put in place systems which subjected Tibetans and Uyghurs to forced labor, which, because of its involuntary nature, and extent of the powers, exercised on them, not only as individuals but also as communities could amount to a modern form of slavery. In this day and age, this may be occurring in such a massive scale, which is absolutely shocking.”
While raising the issue of state-run schools by China destroying Uyghur culture and identity, UN Special Rapporteur, “Xinjiang’s state-run boarding school system, which has been mentioned, fails to provide education in a child’s mother tongue, but most importantly, separates thousands, perhaps even 800,000 mainly Uyghur children from their families. And to me, this is quite surprising, shocking, and unacceptable. until a few decades ago, one would have thought that that period of inhumane cultural genocide was resolved, was finished, but we’re seeing it today in a more modern form, but in a very systematic way”.
According to the former UN Rapporteur, “What is going, what is happening in Xinjiang and in Tibet is not just a series of massive violations of human rights. It’s part of the intentional direction, of the colonisation process. There are claims of sterilisation of Uyghur and other minority women, the banning of certain Muslim names, restrictions on the teaching of Islam to new generations, and books focusing on the Uyghur homeland and the ancient Uyghur literature have been banned for decades.”
“Even books of poetry are dangerous if published in Uyghur, as is the destruction of mosques and historical sites and even of cemeteries, and that’s one of the methods to erase the presence of the people on a territory. You get rid of the cemeteries. This is not an accident. This is part of a systematic approach to erasing a civilization and a people and its history and presence on a territory,” an expert added. (ANI)



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