Beijing:  Another atrocity on Uighurs Muslims can be seen by the Chinese government when it banned fasting by Muslims civil servants, students and teachers in its Xinjiang province in the Holy month of Ramadan. All the restaurants and food hubs were also allowed to be opened throughout the day.

This is another way of imposing restriction on Chinese Uighurs and this is done every year which receives widespread criticism against China. Uighurs are not free to perform the religious activities in their own land. 

This led to a major violence which killed 20 Uighurs and this whole incident was given a colour of religious extremism by the Chinese authorities. 

There was widespread protest against the Chinese policy against the Uighurs Muslims in Turkey. On July 5, Chinese flags were burnt and anti-China slogans were raised in front of Chinese Consulate by the Turkish Muslim in support of Uighur. Basically, Uighur and Turkish share similar culture and religious background. 

Chinese tourists were also attacked in Turkey following which China warned its travelers from visiting the place.

All these events led to strain in China-Turkey relation. Chinese Ambassador was called at Ankara, Turkey for an explanation on the ban of Muslims fast during Ramadan and violence in Xinjiang.

Who are Uighurs? 

Uighurs are Muslims residing in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, Western province of China. Most of them are Sunni Muslim. They are officially recognized as one of the 56 recognized ethnic minorities. Culturally and ethnically, they regard themselves close to Central Asia. One of the reasons for such resemblance is its neighboring areas. This region borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan come under Central Asian region. This is also proved by the DNA analyses.

Around 80% of Uighurs resides in the Tarim Basin, Southwestern portion of the region. Contemporary scholar put on records that modern Uighurs are the descendants of Mongolites who arrived at Tarim Basin after the fall of the Uyghur Khaganate, Iranian Saka tribes, and other Indo-European who inhabited the Tarim Basin.

Plight of Uighurs

The issues have been pending for long where Uighurs are trying to prove their existence in the region of Xinjiang whereas Chinese authority encouraging Hans population influx into it so that China does not find much difficulty in administrating this area. So, its matter of contention between Uighurs nationalists and the Chinese authority.

A massive influx of Han Chinese population in Xinjiang made Uighurs as minority group in its own region. China always has kept a tight fist in its policy towards this region and against the Uighurs so that Uighurs couldn’t rise for their nationalism. It suppressed in all possible ways under disguise of suppressing the religious extremism. 

During the mid of 700 AD, the Uighurs were capable of establishing their own rule and politics and pronounced it as Eastern Turkestan Republic which was short-lived as Chinese authority quashed it.  But Uighurs maintained its Culture, religious tradition despite of resistance and assimilation of Hans culture and Philosophy in that region. 

It remained an ignorant region in China but at later stage, as development started, it started accelerating which also escalated the split between Hans and Uighurs community in terms of employability and living standard. This led to horizontal movement of Uighurs to Beijing and other parts of China which were suppressed by local population. This brought a violent protest in Urumqi in 2009 leading to death of 200 people and injury of hundreds. This was further escalated by inter ethnic tensions and terrorist attack in Xinjiang. China easily put blame on East Turkestan Islamic Movement and the Turkestan Islamic Party. 

China took it as serious issue and deployed its military to quell Uighurs uprising, instead of safeguarding their rights, China imposed much restriction on Uighurs and they remained as prisoners in their own area and houses. They were stopped from following their religious practices and adopting their dress code. 

Why Xinjiang is so important for China?

Xinjiang is an autonomous region of China which is located in the Northwest of the country. It also contains the disputed territory of Aksai Chin (Which India claims to be its own region) administered by China. It is bordered with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzsatn, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It also bordered to the South by Tibet. 

• It has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region. In 1951, official exploration of oil started in the region and first drilling started in 1955.
• It is one of the easiest ways to build ties with outside world because of its geographical location. China realized its importance for its own use. Urumqi, a city in Xinjiang became the hub for transportation and trade routes from the Russia.
• As borders are porous, there are chances of infiltration of Islamic extremist to this region which can alter the peace of and development of this region and China as whole.

Uighurs, which has become synonymic to Xinjiang, is going to be an apple of discord for China. Due to restricted media coverage in China, many things do not come up rather Chinese authority does not want to bring up the fact to world community. There is going to be pressure from Islamic countries as well for the protection of Uighurs rights and freedom, however, China will definitely put its step forward very carefully as recent incident has strained the relationship between China and Turkey. 

You may contact Shree Shubham on or on twitter @shubhamshree85

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