Uighurs living in Afghanistan are torn between the dangers of living in terror after the Taliban takeover of the country and the potential reprisals they could face in China if extradited because of their status as Chinese migrants.
As reported by the BBC, a group of Uighurs they came into contact with met in a house in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif to discuss how to escape Afghanistan. They made several calls without favorable responses that would give them hope.
One Uighur elder lamented, saying, “We have no one to help us right now. We are terrified. Everyone is terrified.”
The BBC further reported that many of the Uighurs they spoke to fear that if China occupies the vacuum left by the United States, they could be attacked, as their Afghan identification documents still say “Uighur” or “Chinese refugee.”
One Uighur man in his 40s recounted that since the Taliban terrorists took over, his family had not left their home. “We are afraid the Taliban will help China control our movements, or they will arrest us and hand us over to China,” he said.
“We are like a living dead people now,” said another Uighur in Kabul. “Too scared even to go outside.”
The 12 million Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have been the target of an extermination campaign by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 2017, through birth control and forced sterilization. They are also subjected to forced labor and mass incarceration in concentration camps.
The same treatment is received in China by other ethnic minorities and people of faith, such as the severe persecution and genocide suffered since 1999, by practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual discipline, reported earlier by The BL.
According to RFA reports, Mamat, a Uighur born in Afghanistan to parents who had migrated there from China in the 1960s, said the 80 or so Uighur families in Kabul live in fear of their lives under the Taliban and lamented that they are not receiving help.
“Kazakhstan is taking Kazakhs out of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan is taking Uzbeks out, Turkey and all the other countries are taking their own citizens away, but no one is even asking about how we’re doing. No one is helping us,” Mamat added.
About this, Sean Roberts, a professor at George Washington University and author of “The War on the Uighurs,” said, “This is a community without state representation of any sort.” A fact that could make them more vulnerable than other groups potentially at risk under Taliban rule.
The Chinese regime’s terror of the Uighurs is not new, as in recent years, it has intensified its repression of this ethnic minority even beyond its borders, using tactics to silence them, detain them and return them to Xinjiang, where they are heavily persecuted.
According to June’s Uyghur Human Rights Project data, at least 395 Uighurs have been deported, extradited, or handed over to China since 1997, although the figure could be much higher.
“China has invested heavily and established close diplomatic relations with states in central Asia, and the result is Uyghurs in those countries being targeted by local police and Chinese agents,” said Uighur activist in Canada, Mehmet Tohti.
Meanwhile, the CCP, through its propaganda apparatus celebrated the conquest of the Islamic extremist group and quickly offered its “friendship and cooperation” to it. Although according to reports from a China expert, the Chinese regime’s assistance to the Taliban goes back a long way. He claimed that for decades it provided them with weapons and logistics.
According to experts, one of the biggest interests of the CCP is in its economic megaproject of the Belt and Road in Afghanistan, and with the Taliban regime, it can more easily achieve its purposes through ‘exchange of favors’ and using minorities for ‘bartering.’
On this, Bradley Jardine, an analyst who has been studying China’s economic and political presence abroad, said, “China’s belt and road project has given it a lot of economic leverage over countries with which it cooperates, and in exchange Uyghurs are often scapegoated.”
“The Taliban will be hoping for economic concessions and much needed investment from China, and Afghanistan’s Uyghurs could, to put it crudely, end up a bargaining chip,” Bradley sentenced.