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Relocation of Uyghur Women in China

The Relocation of Young Uyghur Women in China (Running time: 32 minutes)

In this podcast the issue of the transfer of young Uyghur women in China is discussed. Dr. Michael Dillon, visiting professor at Tsinghua University, Beijing, Omer Kanat, Uyghur Service at Radio Free Asia, Amy Reger, Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and Enver Tohti, chairman of the UK Uighur Association talk about the impact the Chinese government programme is having on the women that have been moved to eastern China from their Uyghur muslim society in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region* of north west China.

Overview

A new People’s Republic of China (PRC) policy recruits young Uyghur women from majority Uyghur areas of East Turkestan1 (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR) and transfers them to work in factories in urban areas of eastern China. Though official propaganda slogans promote the program as an overwhelmingly positive experience for these women, less than two years after the initiation of the policy, it has already left a history of broken promises and shattered families. Local leaders, who are subject to intense pressure from higher levels of the PRC government, have used deception, pressure, and threats in order to recruit women to participate in the program. Under the policy, thousands of Uyghur women have been removed from their families and placed into substandard working conditions thousands of miles from their homes.

This government-sponsored transfer of young Uyghur women must be placed in the broader context of the PRC’s ongoing cultural attacks and human rights abuses against the Uyghur people. Uyghur religion, a moderate form of Sunni Islam that is a vital part of their ethnic identity, has been fiercely suppressed. The legal system is used as a tool of repression, with arbitrary detentions and torture commonly employed against any Uyghur who voices discontent with the government. Charges of “political crimes” and the death penalty have been shown to be disproportionately applied to Uyghurs. Uyghur women suffer from forced sterilizations and abortions, and corvée labor is still used in East Turkestan’s rural areas. In addition, at the same time that PRC authorities are implementing a transfer policy of young women out of East Turkestan in the name of providing economic opportunities, they are also supporting the movement of huge numbers of Han Chinese economic migrants into the region. In light of these facts, the transfer policy can be seen as another aspect of Beijing’s effort to forcibly assimilate the Uyghur people and undermine the distinct Uyghur culture of East Turkestan.

Extract from the Deception, Pressure, and Threats: The Transfer of Young Uyghur Women to Eastern China (UHRP)

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Young Uyghur women in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, 2007. Photo: XUAR government.

Young Uyghur women in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, 2007.

Photo: XUAR government

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Last updated Sep 09, 2011