Uighurs in China – Severe Monitoring and Segregation

Our world has lovely stories which people love hearing about, right? Then, there are the other stories which you never want to hear about, the stories of war, discrimination, crime, not to mention all the things that go around the Dark Web. In some countries or cities of our world, there are various such stories which you don’t really want to hear, but once you do, you cannot unhear them.

But on a more serious note, let’s discuss some of these dark stories. In China, the Uighurs are being treated quite poorly, even though their region can be considered liberated and sort of improved. But at what price? That of severe monitoring and separation. Following is more on that subject.

Xinjiang Province Liberation Gone Bad

The Xinjiang province in China has an interesting and turbulent history. Populated mostly by Uighurs, who are also, interestingly enough, Muslim, the territory was assimilated by China in the 2000s. That being said, they were slowly but surely integrated into China during that decade. They got 3G antennas and internet access in 2011, built by the Chinese government. Not long after, cheap smartphones were available to everyone. The Uighurs apparently had internet access and a way to chat and talk with each other, apparently being the key word. It was soon clear that they were censored much more than regular Chinese citizens and that they had more restrictions in the way they used the internet.

Online Protests and Early Days of the Internet for Uighurs

Given that their briefly independent country was liberated, or rather, assimilated by China, the Uighurs weren’t happy, just as many people who lose their independence aren’t. They protested online, in forums who only those who speak Uighur could understand, which meant a lot of people, but very few, if any of them were the Chinese authorities.

There were plenty of protests in Uighur forums and lots of memes regarding their situation at the time. The problem arose from online Islamic teachers which paved a way for multiple people starting to pray much more often. The problem wasn’t in people praying, but rather China linking incidents to Uighur Talibanization, as they called it. That is when things got a bit more restrictive.

IDs and Smartphones – A Restrictive Liberation

Given what happened in mainland China, incidents which were, of course, linked to the Uighurs, the government started a surveillance network, designed specifically to follow the Uighurs. They started collecting all sorts of data on the Uighurs, from voice scans, images to DNA. special software was developed to track and scan the Uighurs’ smartphones, to determine whether they had any data which could potentially be harmful for the country. This way, they found untrustworthy people and sent them to camps, where they were monitored at all times. The Uighur internet merged with the Chinese one, but things have changed. They were constantly monitored, but also discouraged from using their native language, as well as celebrating their own history and culture.

Freedom is a word not to be taken lightly. Some people earn their freedom, others are liberated, but that freedom is a prison. Such is the world of the Uighurs in China. They have internet access but have to carry IDs and smartphones with them at all times. Their smartphones are often scanned and people found untrustworthy would be sent to internment camps. Not all freedoms are alike.