Who are the Uyghurs?

The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group descended from different groups living in Central Asia, Mongolia, and East Turkistan (now officially referred to by China as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region). They are located primarily in Western China, although there is a large diaspora, with the largest population outside of East Turkistan existing in Kazakhstan, and with significant populations also living in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, Pakistan, Russia, most of the European countries, Canada, the United States, and Japan.

After a long and somewhat tumultuous history, the Republic of East Turkistan was first established in Kashgar in 1933, and again a second time in 1944 in Ghulja, only to be annexed by China’s Communist State in 1949. Since being established as a so-called autonomous region the idea of any sort of independent proceedings from the Communist Party has proved to be a farce, as the Chinese Communist Party has maintained tight control over every individual’s life in addition to all government proceedings, and to this point has completely removed the right to any autonomy at all, to the point that the government is currently conducting genocide against Uyghurs in the region with sprawling concentration camps holding around 3 million innocent men, women, and children. The entire East Turkistan is a police state with unprecedented, heavy-monitoring surveillance systems.

What language do the Uyghur speak?

Uyghur, a Turkic language closely related to modern Turkish. It is written using Arabic script, although outside of China a Uyghur Latin and Uyghur Cyrillic alphabet are also used.

What are the current issues surrounding the Uyghur community?

In addition to the current genocide being carried out by the Chinese government against Uyghurs in East Turkistan, Uyghurs may often be separated from their families due to travel abroad. The Chinese government will often refuse to issue passports or allow Uyghurs to leave China, and in addition, Uyghurs who have been abroad may be also denied entry. Uyghurs in diaspora are also suffering as they are cut off from being able to contact their families and are often harassed by the Chinese government even while living abroad. The recent Covid19 pandemic has caused even greater difficulties for Uyghur refugees working abroad as they may struggle even more to provide for themselves and their families.