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Author: Sean R. Roberts

This book explores the reasons and justifications for the Chinese state’s campaign to erase Uyghur identity, focusing, in particular, on how China’s manipulation of the US-led Global War on Terror (GWOT) has facilitated this cultural genocide. It is the first book to address this issue in depth, and serves as an important rebuttal to Chinese state claims that this campaign is a benign effort to combat an existential extremist threat. While the book suggests that the motivation for this state-led campaign is primarily China’s gradual settler colonization of the Uyghur homeland, the text focuses on the narrative of the Uyghur terrorist threat that has provided international cover and justification for the campaign and has shaped its ‘biopolitical’ nature. It describes how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was able to successfully implicate Uyghurs in GWOT and, despite a lack of evidence, brand them internationally as a serious terrorist threat within the first year of the war. In recounting these developments, the book offers a critique of existing literature on the Uyghur terrorist threat and questions the extent of this threat to the PRC. Finding no evidence for the existence of such a threat when the Chinese state first declared its existence in 2001, the book argues that a nominal Uyghur militant threat only emerged after over a decade of PRC suppression of Uyghur dissent in the name of counterterrorism, facilitating a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ that has served to justify further state repression and ultimately cultural genocide.

2 HOW THE UYGHURS BECAME A ‘TERRORIST THREAT’ Uyghurs were classified as a ‘terrorist threat’ in the early 2000s, not because of anything Uyghurs did; they were classified as such through a politically motivated process initiated by the PRC and, after intensive lobbying, reified by the US. While this classification only branded one small and little-known Uyghur exile group in Afghanistan as a ‘terrorist organization,’ it has subsequently had major ramifications for all Uyghurs everywhere and especially in China. This classification was unquestionably pursued by

in The war on the Uyghurs
Ablimit Baki Elterish

Introduction Uyghurs living outside China began to lose contact with their loved ones in Xinjiang 1 from towards the end of 2016. By July 2017, many thousands in the Uyghur diaspora have been made to be unable to communicate with families in China. Phone calls are unanswered. Text messages are rejected – a clear indication that the senders are blocked or phone contacts of loved ones have been deleted. Many Uyghurs whose calls are answered have been asked not to call again

in The Xinjiang emergency

3 MYTHS AND REALITIES OF THE ALLEGED ‘TERRORIST THREAT’ ASSOCIATED WITH UYGHURS On a snowy February day in 2019, I found myself in a courtroom in Oslo, Norway arguing about acronyms and the alleged Uyghur-led ‘terrorist organizations’ to which they supposedly referred. I was an expert witness for a Uyghur refugee who had gone to Syria to fight for a paramilitary group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) believing he was being trained for a war of liberation, in his homeland. He was now facing charges of ‘terrorism’ in Norway as a result. Given the ways

in The war on the Uyghurs
Chien-peng Chung

Introduction Covering an area of 1.66 million square kilometres, Xinjiang (Uyghur) Autonomous Region is the largest provincial-level unit in the People's Republic of China (PRC). It contains some 23 million people, about 60 per cent of whom are from ethnic groups other than the Han-Chinese, who are the predominant people of China (An 2017 ). About 45 per cent of Xinjiang's population is constituted by the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking people who mostly practise Sunni Islam and are the largest ethnic group in the region; 10

in Armed non-state actors and the politics of recognition
Exploring the causes and consequences of China’s mass detention of Uyghurs
Editor: Michael Clarke

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is the site of the largest mass repression of an ethnic and/or religious minority in the world today. Researchers estimate that since 2016 one million people have been detained there without trial. In the detention centres individuals are exposed to deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress, while outside them more than ten million Turkic Muslim minorities are subjected to a network of hi-tech surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring. Existing reportage and commentary on the crisis tends to address these issues in isolation, but this groundbreaking volume brings them together, exploring the interconnections between the core strands of the Xinjiang emergency in order to generate a more accurate understanding of the mass detentions’ significance for the future of President Xi Jinping’s China.

5 THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY AND THE ‘PEOPLE’S WAR ON TERROR,’ 2013–2016 On 29 October 2013, an SUV with a black flag bearing the Shahadah waving outside one of its back windows drove recklessly towards the Forbidden City in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, struck numerous people, and caught fire near the palace that has long symbolized Chinese power. It turned out that a Uyghur family had been inside the vehicle, including a man, his wife, and his mother. Five people were killed, including those in the car and two tourists, and thirty-eight were injured in the

in The war on the Uyghurs

4 COLONIALISM MEETS COUNTERTERRORISM, 2002–2012 During the summer of 2000, I took my last fieldwork trip to the Uyghur homeland. The region had an ominous feeling to it that seemed to foretell its future direction. I had returned to Ghulja for the first time in about three years; the city, which was one of the few Uyghur urban centers in the north, felt as if it had lost its Uyghur characteristics and become much more of a generic small Chinese urban space. Urumqi was a mass of construction, as the PRC was already aspiring to make it a commercial hub for

in The war on the Uyghurs
Abstract only

CONCLUSION What is happening to the Uyghurs inside China is a blatant act of cultural genocide and a human tragedy. It is neither the first of its kind in history nor perhaps even the worst of the human tragedies that have occurred thus far in the twenty-first century. However, it is a tragedy of global proportions that begs for a global response. In concluding this book’s account of how this tragedy has unfolded through a combination of colonialism and ‘counterterrorism,’ which together have amounted to a full-out state-led war on the Uyghurs, I will try to

in The war on the Uyghurs

1 COLONIALISM, 1759–2001 One of the reasons it is so devastating to be labeled a ‘terrorist’ in the context of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) is that the war has successfully characterized its enemy as lacking in legitimate grievances – motivated instead by an irrational ideology based on an extreme and intolerant interpretation of Islam. In the case of the Uyghurs, this effectively strips them of their historical grievances with modern Chinese states, which are more important to understanding the present conflict between the PRC and Uyghurs than is a

in The war on the Uyghurs