North Korea and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Grim parallels in two of the most repressive parts of the world

On 3 March the China-focused information platform SupChina published translated extracts from a 16-hour discussion in a “room” on the app Clubhouse called “Is there a concentration camp in Xinjiang?” The room attracted an incredible 4,000 participants, but the truly remarkable thing about the conversation was that it brought together Uyghurs and Han Chinese people – both inside and outside China – in a space momentarily beyond government restrictions.

Reliable information about what is happening to the Uyghurs is heavily censored in China; the only news about the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is from state media, which paints Uyghurs as either potential terrorists or grateful recipients of the government’s “re-education” programme.

Before it was banned, Clubhouse briefly provided a brand-new channel for open discussion of one of the most sensitive issues in China today. SupChina described the conversation as “historic,” and it was; historic, moving, tragic and illuminating.

Continue reading “North Korea and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Grim parallels in two of the most repressive parts of the world”

Together for Uyghurs: Many beliefs, one voice

“I’m here not as a professional activist or a scholar but as a daughter and as someone directly affected by the atrocities that are being discussed today against Uyghurs – and as part of this week to remember one of the worst stains on human history, the Holocaust. I’m one of those who understand deeply how this horror must inform our response to present events.”

Ziba Murat, daughter of retired Uyghur doctor Gulshan Abbas who was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Every year on 27 January, the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day, remembering the millions killed under Nazi persecution, as well as in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It is a day to honour the memories of those who lost their lives and to re-commit to never allowing such crimes to happen again.

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“No lo compraré, China”: El costo de la “Fast Fashion” para las minorías religiosas y étnicas en la región China de Uigur

Una nueva sudadera de algodón llegó a mi casa esta semana, con tres palabras en la etiqueta que hizo que mi mente diera vueltas: ‘Hecho en China’. ¿Pero en qué parte de China? ¿Se hizo en la región de Uigur? ¿Era esta sudadera un producto del trabajo forzado? ¿Yo era parte de este problema; aunque sin saberlo, alimentaba una industria que sabía que estaba arraigada en la difícil situación de las minorías religiosas y étnicas de China?

¿De dónde viene el algodón de China?

China es uno de los mayores productores de algodón del mundo y la mayor parte de su algodón se produce en la Región Autónoma Uigur de Sinkiang (la región de Uigur), conocida por muchos uigures como “El Turquestán Oriental”. Informes fiables afirman que la región de Uigur produce el 84% de la producción de algodón de China, y es el principal proveedor y exportador de algodón de prendas de vestir y productos textiles a las fábricas chinas e internacionalmente.[1] La Coalición para Poner Fin al Trabajo Forzoso de Uigur cree que el 20% del algodón del mundo proviene de la región de Uigur.

Continue reading ““No lo compraré, China”: El costo de la “Fast Fashion” para las minorías religiosas y étnicas en la región China de Uigur”

“I’m not buying it, China”: The cost of fast fashion for religious and ethnic minorities in China’s Uyghur region

A new cotton jumper arrived in my post this week, with three words on the label that sent my mind spinning: ‘Made in China.’ Whereabouts in China? Was it made in the Uyghur region? Was this jumper a product of forced labour? A token of a part I had played – albeit unknowingly – in fuelling an industry which I knew to be entrenched in the plight of China’s religious and ethnic minorities?

Where does China’s cotton come from?

China is one of the world’s largest cotton producers and most of its cotton is produced in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Uyghur Region), referred to by many Uyghurs as ‘East Turkestan.’ Credible reports claim that the Uyghur Region produces 84% of China’s cotton output, and it is the main supplier and exporter of cotton, apparel, and textile products to Chinese factories, within China and internationally.[1] The Coalition to End Uyghur Forced Labour believes that 20% of the world’s cotton comes from the Uyghur Region.

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Language matters: What is terrorism?

Academic and terrorism researcher David Tucker once wrote: “Above the gates of hell is the warning that all that enter should abandon hope. Less dire but to the same effect is the warning given to those who try to define terrorism.”[1] Today, his words still aptly describe the continuing search by states and international bodies for a definition of terrorism.

A search for consensus

The United Nations (UN) has made several attempts to provide a general definition of terrorism, in contrast to describing specific acts of terrorism. It had a degree of success in the 1990s, with some progress made towards a general definition. In 1994 the non-binding ‘Declaration on Measures to Eliminate International Terrorism,’ endorsed by the UN General Assembly, defined terrorism as  “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes.”

This was followed by a 1996 General Assembly Resolution 51/210, which established an ad hoc Committee to find a Draft Comprehensive Convention. However, when the Committee presented its report, the proposed definition was met with controversy and disquiet in the ad hoc Committee.

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