What is happening to the uyghurs in China?

Despite a crackdown on foreign journalism and a string of denials from the Chinese government, camera footage, satellite footage, leaked documents, whistleblowers and testimonials from escapees all point to the conclusion that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)  is perpetrating a genocide against the people of East Turkistan, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region by the CCP. This has been corroborated by the Holocaust Museum report, U.S. atrocity determination, Canadian genocide report, the Uyghur Tribunal, the UN report, Uyghur Tribunal and many others. The genocide determination verdict by The Uyghur Tribunal was made on December 9th, 2021 marking it as Uyghur Genocide Recognition day

The Uyghurs are a cultural and ethnic group in East Turkistan, actively targeted by the government through the use of technology, under the guise of preventing terrorism. The CCP has ordered the reduced population growth rate across the two largest prefectures by 84%, with some counties approaching 90 and even 100%. The reports of Dr. Adrian Zenz and reports from the Investigative Consortium Investigative Journalists are some of the most extensive. 

As of 2016, China has employed an initiative called the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP). Reverse engineering by Human Rights Watch shows the use of surveillance cameras, facial recognition software, and mobile user data to monitor and categorize individuals. These policies give global tech companies a platform to test their programs by experimenting on human subjects in the real world, and the Chinese government the ability to build databases of demographic, medical, and genetic information

Once imprisoned, Uyghur people are subject to inhumane practices. Uyghur children, taken from their parents, are subject to indoctrination against their culture and heritage, in favor of the CCP. 

The CCP has been using Uyghur forced labor to pick cotton in East Turkistan, and have been sending Uyghurs into China to work in manufacturing facilities. These Uyghurs, under the guise of “re-education” and “vocational skills”, have been forced to work in camps under coercion. The CCP uses coercive tactics, ordering re-education courses for those who refuse along with the implicit threat of detention in concentration camps. There may be over one million Uyghurs who are subject to a forced labor program. 

These programs consist of two systems; rural transfers, where local Uyghurs are forced to pick cotton, mine quartz, or otherwise engage in local, seasonal activities, and larger detainee transfers, where victims of China’s concentration camps are sent in labor transfers to work in resource extraction or manufacturing. Men are grouped together for forced labor, producing everything from face masks to consumer goods for global brands like Nike, Apple, and Volkswagen. These brands are actively exploiting slave labor. These products include: apparel, solar panels, processors, batteries, PVC flooring, lithium, medical equipment, and more.

Testimonies from those who have escaped and leaked data show that Uyghurs in these camps face physical torture, rape, medical manipulation, forced labor, and murder. In addition to the camps, recent records show increasing construction of cremation facilities nearby – while Uyghurs do not practice cremation as a matter of faith.

While China refers to them inconsistently as ‘Re-education’ camps, and more recently as ‘Vocational training centers,’ experts speculate that a million to as many as three million people are being kept in these open-air prisons.

The CCP has censorship power on both state and international media, and has employed media blackouts, intimidation of the global Uyghur diaspora, and restricted access to international journalism. They also have been launching disinformation campaigns calling the Uyghur genocide “Western propaganda,” causing genocide denial worldwide. A common argument is that the CCP is not committing genocide since there have been no reports of mass killings. It is important to note, the definition of genocide goes beyond mass killing.

This technology is being exported to other countries while China is investing in their economies and technology infrastructure. This perpetuates violence and keeps international bodies from holding China accountable. In a joint statement to the High Commissioner of the United Nations, 22 nations criticized Beijing for “disturbing reports of large-scale arbitrary detentions” and “widespread surveillance and restrictions.” A day later, 37 other countries jumped to Beijing’s defense, with their own letter praising China’s human rights record, and dismissing the reported detentions. 

Muslim-Majority countries have been siding with The Chinese Government when it has come to vote for resolutions or debates at the UN. The  Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has mostly been silent on the issue and at times endorsed the regime by inviting China’s foreign minister Wang Yi as ‘special guest’ in the 48th Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC in Pakistan on 22 and 23 March this year.

The UN released its report on the matter saying that China could potentially be committing crimes against humanity, but after a vote in October at the UN, to see whether the report’s findings could be discussed further, this was rejected as all Muslim-majority states abstained from voting or voted with China, except Somalia. 

It is the opinion of CFU that if China is not held accountable now, the Uyghur Genocide tactics can be replicated in different areas of the world. Genocide will become more efficient and more difficult to stop. 

Additional Resources

What is Genocide? 

The Xinjiang Data Projec

  • The Xinjiang Data Project documents the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing program of human rights abuses and tech-enhanced authoritarianism and draws upon open source data including satellite imagery, Chinese government documents, official statistics and a range of authoritative reports and academic studies. 

Leaked Documents 

Reports/Atrocity Determinations (not comprehensive) 


Surveillance and Facial Recognition 

Human Rights Watch


Anti-Muslim & Minority Chinese State Media 

Camera footage

Concentration camps 

Crackdown on Uyghur Culture


Forced Labor

Forced marriage

History of East Turkistan


Intimidation of the Diaspora

Mining of genomic data 

Mining of data by AI companies 

Pair up and become “family”

Responses from other countries: 

Satellite Imagery of Camps