Report from The Center for Global Policy: “Coercive Labor in Xinjiang: Labor Transfer and the Mobilization of Ethnic Minorities to Pick Cotton”
The following is taken from an Center for Global Policy brief on December 15, 2020. "New…
The following is taken from an Uyghur Human Rights Project press release on June 3, 2020. Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) +1 (202) 790-1795, +1 (703) 217-7266
The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) has released a new report, Kashgar Coerced: Forced Reconstruction, Exploitation, and Surveillance in the Cradle of Uyghur Culture. The report documents the Chinese government’s campaign to stamp out tangible aspects of Uyghur culture, using the ancient city of Kashgar as the most emblematic case.
On the one hand, Kashgar is regarded as the “cradle of Uyghur culture,” lying on the ancient Silk Road route, with significant historical importance as a crossroads between empires and civilizations. On the other hand, Kashgar has been at the front lines of the most aggressive, high-tech surveillance campaign of the 21st century. It is the target of a vast and totalizing anti-historical “modernizing” reconstruction project.
UHRP Executive Director Omer Kanat said of the report: “It is difficult to overstate the importance of Kashgar for the Uyghur people. It has been horrifying to watch the city being decimated. Even worse, it is a deliberate government policy. Kashgar was the living heart of our culture. It is not something that we can get back.”
The Chinese government announced its intention in 2009 to raze up to 85 percent of Old City, unique for its centuries-old, interwoven, fractal mud-brick buildings. In response, a host of international organizations voiced their grave concern at the potential loss of priceless architectural heritage, including UNESCO, the European Parliament, Saving Antiquities for Everyone, and the Global Heritage Network. Large-scale demolitions went ahead nonetheless.
UHRP’s report finds that it is precisely because of Kashgar’s uniqueness and its profound degree of cultural significance for Uyghurs that the Chinese government has gone to extraordinary lengths to co-opt the city’s symbolic heritage. Kashgar’s reconstruction, exploitation, and surveillance have been mutually reinforcing, producing a new breed of totalitarian “smart city” optimized for ethnic repression.
The current use of mass internment camps and forced labor build upon longer histories of forced reconstruction, economic exploitation, and surveillance that have been systematically reshaping the city since the early 2000s. Through such an unprecedented urban experiment conducted in the heart of Uyghur culture, the Chinese government has been able to impose its own coerced version of Uyghur society in the service of cultural genocide.
In this sense, Kashgar can act as a prism through which to better understand current forms of Chinese government control over the Uyghur population and its unprecedented campaign of forced assimilation.
UHRP makes the following recommendations to the Chinese government and the international community:
To the Chinese government:
To the international community:
In collaboration with UHRP, Save Uighur is helping to increase access to their reports.