Uyghur Outcry Over ‘Broken Promises and Shattered Families’ in Xinjiang

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Uyghur advocates have renewed their outcry over a Chinese government program they say forcibly transfers Uyghur young women from southern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or East Turkestan, to work in urban China’s factories.

This has been detrimental to the Muslim minority group, according to a report issued Feb. 8 by the Uyghur Human Rights Project:

Though official propaganda slogans promote the program as an overwhelmingly positive experience for these women, less than two years after the initiation of the policy, it has already left a history of broken promises and shattered families.

Under the policy, thousands of Uyghur women have been removed from their families and placed into substandard working conditions thousands of miles from their homes. At the same time that the PRC government implements the transfer policy in the name of providing economic opportunities for these young women, it also provides support for the movement of large numbers of Han Chinese migrants into East Turkestan.

“This transfer policy can be seen as another aspect of Beijing’s effort to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people and undermine the distinct Uyghur culture of East Turkestan,” said Uyghur democracy leader Rebiya Kadeer. “Continuation of the policy will only further marginalize the Uyghur people and deepen Uyghurs’ mistrust of PRC officials, leading to even greater tensions in East Turkestan.”

Kadeer, whose activism earned her five years in a Chinese jail and then exile to the United States, is president of the Uyghur American Association, based in Washington, D.C. It launched the affiliate UHRP in 2004 to improve rights conditions for Uyghurs and other indigenous groups in Xinjiang.

The full report, Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China, is available for download.

More reporting from Xinjiang on this issue, especially as it has affected young girls, can be found at Radio Free Asia.

February 12, 2008 9:29 AM
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Categories: Human Rights, Politics