The Chinese government has ordered the closing of 160 organisations studying and teaching Uyghur culture, seemingly with an aim of eliminating the culture.
As per ANI, Uyghur scholar Kasimjan Abdurehim says, “This policy of elimination by the Chinese government – or, in China’s own words, this ‘war on terror’ – is a war against the Uyghurs.” Abdurehim, who lives in the United States, revealed that the campaign against Uyghurs began four years ago. “This is proof,” he added. “We can see the cancellation, the elimination, of these Uyghur-run schools and organisations on the list as one small piece of evidence that the policies of the Chinese government continue to operate at ever-new highs.”
According to Chinese media reports, information on the websites of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and the Urumqi municipal government, ‘revocation of registration certificates and seals of social organizations’ was announced by the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on February 22.
Among the 160 organisations that will be closed are the Uyghur Classical Literature and Muqam Research Association, Dolan Farmer Painters’ Association, Atlan Vocational Training School, Intil Language School, and Miraj Vocational Training School, as reported by Radio Free Asia. The majority of the organisations on the list were founded by Uyghurs, according to the ANI report. As far as the repression of Uyghurs is concerned, Communist Party Secretary of Xinjiang, Ma Xingrui, will follow in the footsteps of previous Chinese leaders in the region.
As part of this effort, China is also targeting relics of Uyghur culture, including the Uyghur muqam, a musical mode and set of melodic formulas that guide Uyghur improvisation and composition, among other repertoires across Europe. A Uyghur muqam performance was given by the European Uyghur Ensemble. Several members of the troupe criticised the shutting down of the Muqam Research Society as a further indication of the culture’s continuing eradication.
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Xinjiang’s Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities have been oppressed in China through forced labour, displacement, and cultural obliteration. The Uyghur society has been purged of intellectuals, prominent businessmen, and cultural and religious figures, many of whom have been imprisoned in internment camps as part of a campaign to prevent religious extremism and terrorist activity. These actions have also been declared as genocide and crimes against humanity by the US Congress and other Western countries.