by Sean R. Roberts
Princeton University Press
How China is using the US-led war on terror to erase the cultural identity of its Muslim minority in the Xinjiang region
Within weeks of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the Chinese government warned that it faced a serious terrorist threat from its Uyghur ethnic minority, who are largely Muslim. In this explosive book, Sean Roberts reveals how China has been using the US-led global war on terror as international cover for its increasingly brutal suppression of the Uyghurs, and how the war's targeting of an undefined enemy has emboldened states around the globe to persecute ethnic minorities and severely repress domestic opposition in the name of combatting terrorism.
Of the eleven million Uyghurs living in China today, more than one million are now being held in so-called reeducation camps, victims of what has become the largest program of mass detention and surveillance in the world. Roberts describes how the Chinese government successfully implicated the Uyghurs in the global terror war--despite a complete lack of evidence--and branded them as a dangerous terrorist threat with links to al-Qaeda. He argues that the reframing of Uyghur domestic dissent as international terrorism provided justification and inspiration for a systematic campaign to erase Uyghur identity, and that a nominal Uyghur militant threat only emerged after more than a decade of Chinese suppression in the name of counterterrorism--which has served to justify further state repression.
A gripping and moving account of the humanitarian catastrophe that China does not want you to know about, The War on the Uyghurs draws on Roberts's own in-depth interviews with the Uyghurs, enabling their voices to be heard.
"Sophisticated, nuanced, and deeply informed. Roberts offers broad insights into the ways the global war on terror has enabled authoritarian regimes around the world to repress minority populations." --Michael E. Clarke, author of Xinjiang and China's Rise in Central Asia--A History
This is the backstory behind one of the biggest stories in China--the incarceration of more than one million Uyghurs in a dystopian network of what are claimed to be reeducation camps. Who the Uyghurs are and how they came to be classified as terrorists is a story authoritatively told by Sean Roberts, who has spent three decades studying the Uyghurs and speaks the language. The publication of The War on the Uyghurs could not be more timely. --Barbara Demick, former Beijing bureau chief, Los Angeles Times, author of Nothing to Envy
About the Author:
Sean R. Roberts is associate professor of the practice of international affairs and director of the International Development Studies Program at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. He lives in Washington, DC.