Mass detention of Uyghurs by Chinese govt 'egregious form of settler colonialism': Expert

ANI
Washington Updated: Feb 19, 2022, 03:52 PM(IST)

File Photo Photograph:( Reuters )

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Terror capitalism is a system that justifies oppression by branding Uyghurs a security threat to generate state investment in policing and surveillance technologies to monitor and control them, said Byler in an interview with RFA

Highlighting that the Chinese government has detained about 1.8 million Uyghurs since 2017, an anthropologist said that the mass detentions are part of China's settler colonialism and resource extraction in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Nuriman Abdurashid, writing in Radio Free Asia (RFA) said that an anthropologist Darren Byler, assistant professor of international studies at Canada`s Simon Fraser University, in his book terror capitalism: Uyghur dispossession and masculinity in a Chinese city examined how China's settler colonisation of muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang`s capital Urumqi.

Terror capitalism is a system that justifies oppression by branding Uyghurs a security threat to generate state investment in policing and surveillance technologies to monitor and control them, said Byler in an interview with RFA.

Byler's ethnographic fieldwork in Urumqi shows how the Chinese government's imposition of ethnic majority Han Chinese values along with efforts to increase the number of Han settlers in the area have perpetuated Uyghur dispossession and expulsion from the city.

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He focused on young Uyghur men, the main target of state brutality, and their development of tight social bonds as a protective measure, said Abdurashid. Byler`s other book on Xinjiang, In the Camps: China`s High-Tech Penal Colony, also published in 2021, examines China`s pervasive surveillance network in Xinjiang.

Terror Capitalism is focused on the rise of an economic form of a kind of security-industrial complex where the state has hired over 1,000 contractors - private companies - to build forms of surveillance that will begin to sort through Uyghur and Kazakh behaviour and diagnose who is potentially a criminal, said Byler. The Chinese counterterrorism laws define things as terrorism that are not terrorism.

It is things like having WhatsApp on your phone, using a VPN, and having relatives who live abroad and sending them money.

The first three chapters of Terror Capitalism focus on processes of enclosure devaluation and dispossession, which are all of the ways in which Uyghurs have been systematically targeted by this system, Byler wrote in RFA.

Two of the last three chapters focus on ways that Uyghurs survive and how they find where to live even as these things are being done to them, he added.

Talking about the expectation of the readers, Byler said that he wants readers to know about what`s happening to the Uyghurs is similar to and related to older forms of settler colonialism that occurred in other places like in North America where native Americans were colonised.

The global war on terror is being utilised as a tool to put those colonial systems in place. The same thing is happening in northwest China. That's what I want readers to take away from this.. The decimation of Uyghur society is the most egregious form of settler colonialism that`s in the world right now, said Byler. 

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