By Jaya Pathak
“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in." This quote by Eliezer Yudkowsky, an American artificial intelligence researcher, has been more widely circulated on social media than ever before due to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests all around the world. Another event which has shown us how collective responsibility is a sum of each individual effort to take accountability for our words and actions is the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 has been a reminder that the world is a whole lot better if we all do our bit. So it is with this mindset, that we discuss the plight and genocide of the Uighur Muslim Turkic-speaking minority in China, and have a duty to ask the question on many people’s minds: Why have the leaders of our international community stayed silent for so long? Why are they not taking action?
The Uighurs are an ethnic group predominantly based in the Xinjiang region of Western China. With a deep-rooted history, they are recognised as native to the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, however, the Chinese government has rejected calling Uighurs a Chinese indigenous group. The “autonomous” region is, in practical terms, not very autonomous at all. Since 2014, the Uighurs have been affected by restricted religious and cultural freedom, arbitrary detention and invasive surveillance at the hands of the Chinese government. Examples of what the Chinese government deemed inappropriate include owning books about Uighurs, growing a beard, having a prayer rug, and refraining from smoking or drinking alcohol. This knowledge alone is enough to be aware that the Communist Party of China (CPC) are actively trying to erase the Uighurs’ cultural identity.
In 2017, Human Rights Watch referred to the unlawful “political education” centres in Xinjiang that Uighurs had been detained in, calling for the Chinese government to immediately free Uighur people from detention. In 2018, a BBC exposé released further evidence through physical satellite imagery of the rapid expansion of these internment camps. Victims were interviewed and those fortunate enough to escape have been telling the world their stories in a bid to raise awareness about what is going on. Various organisations, including the