Dynamics of Violence in a Global Society: Uyghurs


Dynamics of Violence in a Global Society

Ramses R. M. Nestor

New York Institute of Technology


    The following study’s purpose is to expose the mechanism of violence in social and group psychology regarding third world issues like genocide, terrorism, separatism, and religion extremism. The matters of violence will be researched from a racial, ethnical, political, and historical point of view. The principal concentration of the paper will include China’s oppression over the Uyghur community.


Serious accusations have lately been brought to the Chinese Government as the issue of Uyghur people is rapidly taking up the stage in exposure of “re-education camps”. The Government explains that measures were taken for avoiding separatism violence in the region of Xinjiang, China.

The Uyghurs are a Turkic muslim minority that originates, and at the same time affiliates, from the area of Central and East Asia. They are legally recognised as one of the 55 ethnic minorities of China, as well as natives to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. However, religious and cultural discrepancies, as well as “religious extremism” soon made the Chinese Government construct huge “re-education camps” that are holding Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. Estimates for camp populations range from 500,000 to over a million”(Nithin, 2018). The so-called re-education camps were incorporated in the justice system by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government and its China Communist Party committee, serving the purpose of countering extremism and terrorism and promoting Sinicization. Powers of the world, including the United Nations, have taken into consideration the abuses conducted because of cultural and racial issues. The treatments applied to minorities that end up in camps are the ultimate validation of violence and human rights violations, the detainees ultimately being “forced to go through ‘political reeducation’ aimed at cultivating loyalty to the communist party, and in some cases, face maltreatment. As an extrajudicial procedure, these measures deny basic human rights such as the right to liberty and security, thus violating international law” (Soliev, 2019). The background reason for the entire situation is economic, with the area of Xinjiang being rich with coal, oil and gas deposits; therefore, the conflict consists of China taking control of movements that could undermine Chinese authority over the exploitation of the resources. The fight for political and economical power was brought to the minorities with violence, repressing them since ten years ago, starting with the notable riots that have broken out in the capital Urumqi, in July 2009. “Around 200 people died, including many Han Chinese, and thousands of troops were brought in to militarize the region. Some Uyghurs turned to violence in response, leading to a spate of attacks in China, most notably a knife attack in the southwest city of Kunming in 2014” (Nithin, 2018). Since then, “at least 1 million Uyghurs have been interned” (Wood, n.d.) in more than 85 identified camps within Xinjiang. Not only that China denies the existence of many of these camps, but it also deprives the muslim communities of basic human rights such as the right to liberty and security, thus violating international law once again. All this, for a good period of time, secret information surfaced once the international communities became alarmed by the inequitable character of the trials the minorities received from the Chinese justice system, claiming that the processes of condemnation were terribly arbitruous and sending Uyghurs to the rehabilitation facilities for indefinite amount of time, or even worse, without even standing trial, another act of political violence that disposes mostly innocent people of the basic right to justice. However, the Chinese Government absolutely denies the maltreatment applied to the Uighurs in the concentration camps, declaring that the rehabilitation character of the camp consists of “a system that they describe as ‘vocational education and training institutions’ represents broader ‘de-extremification efforts’”(Soliev, 2019). In fact, these declarations are absolute manipulations of the current situation. While Chinese officials argue that people affected by extremism are being detained in such facilities to improve their Chinese language and improve legal knowledge and vocational skills, the Government actually uses the Uyghur community in a slavery-like manner, “training [including] making clothes and shoes, food processing, assembling electronic products, typesetting and printing, hairdressing and e-commerce. Through such procedures, Uyghurs are expected to ‘experience ideological emancipation’ and have better employment opportunities”(Soliev, 2019).

Though the Chinese Government’s intentions towards maintaining peace and order among extremist people were true, the actions taken have backfired, and not surprisingly leading to “a people’s war,” as mister Zhang (the Communist Party secretary of Xinjiang region) has asserted himself. The violent nature of the entire conflict emerged from accusations from both sides. On one side, the Uyghur community accuses the Government of suppression, use of terror, and breaking fundamental human rights, all of these enumerated being religion and cultural based. On the other hand, Chinese authorities are holding the minority responsible for bloodshed and riots against the Government, threatening national security. Indeed, “rioters were armed with primitive weapons, mostly knives, and many foreign experts have said that much of the ethnic violence in Xinjiang is spontaneous discontent that does not show the hallmarks of international planning and support”(Jacobs, Buckley, 2013). As a response, secretary Zhang assumes that the Chinese authority must “fully grasp that violent terrorist activities [that] have become a real and major threat to stability in Xinjiang.” Resulting from a recent investigation, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) also asserts that a considerable number of Uyghurs are gaining separatist combating skills in Syria and then orchestrating violent activities on the territory of Xinjiang, which they call East Turkestan and their independent homeland. Evidence concerning these accusations are reflected in the report the Syrian ambassador in Beijing made public, saying that “at least 30 Uighur militants had traveled to Syria from the Afghanistan-Pakistan borderlands via Turkey”(Jacobs, Buckley, 2013), and inferring connections to ISIS and Al-Qaeda terrorist groups.

    It is clear by now that the Asian conflict’s nature is one of identity, culture, and territory. It is also known that China’s cultural and religious identity involves tradition, respect, and most importantly obedience. On the other hand, the Uyghur minority is tremendously different, having a muslim tradition and incredibly different values. Nonetheless, these two communities happened to clash on the same territory, that is China’s (Xinjiang). The Uyghurs’ desire for autonomy matches China’s demand for compliance to the country’s background, leading to violent reactions from both parties: China using force over the minority, and the minority fighting back with violence. Even though the issues have many sources, there are approaches that could turn the violent dynamic of the conflict to a less aggressive or even a peaceful one. The main solving of the current situation is better communication between the two communities in terms of expectations from one another. Since the Uyghurs are settled on a legal Chinese territory, they should be more comprehensive of the Chinese culture and show respect to the authorities. On the other hand, the Chinese Government should show the same amount of respect for the culture and religion of the minority, respecting their human rights and giving them a fair chance at justice. Obviously, the re-education camps apply severe and illegal measures to problems that might not be true, like an Uyghur detainee that ended up in such a facility on an unfounded background resulting from an unfair justice system.

Nevertheless, conflicts as such have always come up along history, many of them resulting in violence. Today we live in a modern world. We should find modern approaches to long-existing issues. Approaches like the world powers and peace organizations taking action and standing up for what is right and true, contributing to the conservation of nations, cultures, religions, and lessening violence and hatred.


Coca, Nithin. (2018). CHINA UYGHUR PLIGHT. New Internationalist, (516),

      8. http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.arktos.nyit.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=12&sid=a3f8d5c2-b6e1-43f7-8f06-3142e595e7a9%40sdc-v-sessmgr01

Soliev, N. (2019). UYGHUR VIOLENCE AND JIHADISM IN CHINA AND BEYOND. Counter        Terrorist Trends and Analyses, 11(1), 71-75. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/26568580

Wood, B. (n.d.). What is happening with the Uighurs in China? Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/features/uighurs/

Jacobs, A., & Buckley, C. (2013, July 3). As violence flares in Xinjiang, foreign link is alleged; State-run paper suggests Uighurs visited Syria to hone fighting techniques Citation metadata. Retrieved September 26, 2020, from https://go-gale-com.arktos.nyit.edu/ps/i.do?p=STND

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: