Through their apparent denial of the systematic persecution and restrictive policies of Uyghurs, China is refusing to uphold its responsibility to protect all of its population. Instead of honoring their obligation, China is pushing Han Chinese’s superiority over other ethnic Turkic groups.
The International community has a responsibility to intervene and stop the potential genocide of Uighurs by whatever means necessary. Enacting the Responsibility to Protect would potentially save many lives and prevent another failed promise of never again.
After the Holocaust, the international community promised “never again” in the hopes of preventing another genocide. Unfortunately, since then, many atrocities have occurred, and the international community has neglected to intervene, even though they have the necessary tools to prevent potential genocides. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine was created after the Rwandan genocide to allow international intervention in the case that a sovereign nation fails its responsibility of protecting its inhabitants. It states that countries have a responsibility to protect their populations from mass atrocity crimes. If a state fails to do so, the international community should take action.
Currently, the most recent case of genocide lies within the Xinjiang region of China. The Uyghurs are an ethnic Turkic group located in Central and East Asia that live in the Xinjiang autonomous province, under constant surveillance and oppression under Chinese rule. Ever since the region’s incorporation into China in the 1950s, conflicts between Chinese and native Uighurs have risen. Following a violent outbreak in 2009, Chinese officials began to crack down on the Uyghur population heavily. Disturbing invasive surveillance reports, forced sterilization, forced marriages, restrictions almost altogether outlawing significant Islamic religious practices, and unlawful detainment in “re-education” camps have surfaced. It has been reported that an estimated 1 to 3 million Uyghurs are being held. The treatment of Uyghurs has alarmed human rights defenders globally. The United Nations should enact the Responsibility to Protect against the current human rights abuses committed in China. The intent to eradicate the Uyghur ethnic group is clear and the structure of the “re-education” camps solidifies their intentions; detainees are forced to learn Mandarin, attend political indoctrination sessions, swear their allegiance to the communist party, eat pork and drink alcohol (which is forbidden in the Islamic religion), and work in labor factories. Labor factories are home to inhumane working and living conditions, constant monitoring, and extreme abuse from guards and authorities.