06 July 2009
Not to be Confused with "Wiggers"
So who are these Uighurs and why are they in such an uproar that dozens of them have died in rioting in China over the weekend? I knew them to be Muslims, and I remember that at least one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations twenty years ago was a Uighur. I knew that the U.S. had been holding some at Guantanamo and that there was an issue over whether they should be delivered to China. But this was an informative article that indicates that the Uighurs are getting the same treatment as the more popular Tibetans. Their land is getting settled by Han Chinese, the majority population, in an alleged effort to end the territory's minority-majority demography, and Uighurs are being encouraged to move outside their traditional territory to find work in what's seen as an attempt to disperse the population. Their religion is under tight government regulation as is that of the Tibetans and the country's Catholics. Basically a lot of Uighurs see themselves as a subject population, fundamentally different from the Han, who ought to have their own country or at least more autonomy within their present country. But because they're Muslims instead of shiny happy Hollywood-friendly Buddhists they don't get the time of day from Americans otherwise eager to point out the outrages of Chinese tyranny. They picked the wrong week to get America's attention this time, but perseverance may pay off in the future.