Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it.
The repression of China’s Uighur ethnic minority has been Beijing’s worst-kept secret for years. There have been plenty of reports of crackdowns in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, with this 2012 briefing from WPR just one example. More recently, details of an emerging surveillance state in Xinjiang have been filling Western media outlets. But despite the available information, China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims has largely remained off the international agenda.
It remains to be seen if this will change following last Friday’s convening of a United Nations human rights panel on the issue. Gay McDougall, a member of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said during the opening session that Xinjiang has become “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone.” McDougall cited estimates that 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang were sent to “political camps for indoctrination.”