A report released by Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project has accused UNESCO of violating its own standards by failing to acknowledge Beijing’s actions towards Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in China, US-based Voice of America (VOA) reported.
These actions by Beijing include “destroying built heritage and desacralizing religious traditions, criminalizing grassroots cultural practices while using their staged representations to promote China’s chosen political narratives.”
UNESCO, which stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, “continues to acknowledge China as a protector of Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz heritage in the Uyghur region,” says the report co-authored by Rachel Harris and Aziz Isa Elkun, according to VOA.
The Uyghur Human Rights Project report accuses China of “strategic cultural cleansing,” defined as the targeting of specific individuals and groups based on their cultural, ethnic or religious identity, and the act of intentionally and systematically destroying the cultural heritage of specific people.
The rights organization’s report accuses China of “strategic cultural cleansing,” defined as the targeting of specific individuals and groups based on their cultural, ethnic or religious identity, and the act of intentionally and systematically destroying the cultural heritage of specific people.
Beijing has repeatedly denied the allegations and said the measures taken in the region are for countering extremism, terrorism and separatism, according to the rights organisation’s report.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to VOA’s questions about China’s treatment of Uyghur cultural heritage in Xinjiang.
The country continues to stand by its response in any discussion about Xinjiang, home to a majority of Uyghurs.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin in response to a question at a news conference this week said: “We have made clear our position on Xinjiang-related issues on multiple occasions. The so-called ‘violation’ or ‘repression’ of human rights is the lie of the century propagated by anti-China forces and has long been debunked by facts.”
Wang added, “We once again urge parties concerned to look at Xinjiang’s strong socioeconomic development in an objective light, stop using Xinjiang-related issues for political manipulation and stop meddling in China’s internal affairs.”
According to VOA, the Uyghur Human Rights Project report examines five aspects of Uyghur heritage, including music, oral history and storytelling, which have been recognized by UNESCO. It details how China has used those cultural practices to promote revisionist history and exploited them for economic profit and government control.
The Chinese government has according to the report, destroyed large numbers of mosques, shrines, graveyards and historic books and restricted the use of Uyghur and other indigenous Turkic languages. Additionally, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz intellectuals and cultural leaders have been imprisoned. (ANI)