36 Facts About Uyghurs


Uyghurs, alternatively spelled Uighurs, Uygurs or Uigurs, are a Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia.

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The Uyghurs are recognized as native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China.

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The Uyghurs are recognized by the Chinese government as a regional minority and the titular people of Xinjiang.

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Uyghurs have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert within the Tarim Basin.

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The Uyghurs gradually started to become Islamized in the 10th century and most Uyghurs identified as Muslims by the 16th century.

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The largest community of Uyghurs living in another region of China are the Uyghurs living in Taoyuan County, in north-central Hunan.

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Significant diasporic communities of Uyghurs exist in other Turkic countries such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkey.

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Since 2014, the Chinese government has subjected Uyghurs living in Xinjiang to widespread abuses that include forced sterilization and forced labor.

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Scholars estimate that at least one million Uyghurs have been arbitrarily detained in the Xinjiang internment camps since 2017; Chinese government officials claim that these camps, created under CCP general secretary Xi Jinping's administration, serve the goals of ensuring adherence to Chinese Communist Party ideology, preventing separatism, fighting terrorism, and providing vocational training to Uyghurs.

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Uyghur activists identify with the Tarim mummies, remains of an ancient people inhabiting the region, but research into the genetics of ancient Tarim mummies and their links with modern Uyghurs remains problematic, both to Chinese government officials concerned with ethnic separatism and to Uyghur activists concerned the research could affect their indigenous claim.

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Study based on autosomal DNA shows that average Uyghurs are closest to other Turkic people in Central Asia and China as well as various Chinese populations.

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The analysis of the diversity of cytochrome B further suggests Uyghurs are closer to Chinese and Siberian populations than to various Caucasoid groups in West Asia or Europe.

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Uyghurs'story of the Uyghur people, as with the ethnic origin of the people, is a matter of contention.

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Many contemporary Western scholars do not consider the modern Uyghurs to be of direct linear descent from the old Uyghur Khaganate of Mongolia.

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Uyghurs who founded the Uyghur Khaganate dispersed after the fall of the Khaganate, to live among the Karluks and to places such as Jimsar, Turpan and Gansu.

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The Uyghurs were originally Tengrists, shamanists, and Manichaean, but converted to Buddhism during this period.

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The Chagatai Khanate split into two in the 1340s, and the area of the Chagatai Khanate where the modern Uyghurs live became part of Moghulistan, which meant "land of the Mongols".

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In Beijing, a community of Uyghurs was clustered around the mosque near the Forbidden City, having moved to Beijing in the 18th century.

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Uyghurs joined with Uzbeks, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz and successfully declared their independence on 12 November 1933.

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Uyghurs turned the Second East Turkistan Republic into the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, and appointed Saifuddin Azizi as the region's first Communist Party governor.

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The name Xinjiang was changed to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where Uyghurs are the largest ethnicity, mostly concentrated in the south-western Xinjiang.

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Mindful not to take sides, Uyghur "leaders" such as Rebiya Kadeer mainly tried to garner international support for the "rights and interests of the Uyghurs", including the right to demonstrate, although the Chinese government has accused her of orchestrating the deadly July 2009 Urumqi riots.

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In Xinjiang, the Chinese government has expanded police surveillance to watch for signs of "religious extremism" that include owning books about Uyghurs, growing a beard, having a prayer rug, or quitting smoking or drinking.

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Authorities in Dubai and other Islamic countries received extradition requests from Beijing, as per which many exiled Uyghurs were detained, separated from their families and deported to China.

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Older Uyghurs disapprove of this, especially elders at the mosques in Changde and they seek to draw them back to Islamic customs.

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The majority of modern Uyghurs are Sunnis, although additional conflicts exist between Sufi and non-Sufi religious orders.

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Uyghurs noted that the people of Khotan did not know Turkic well and had their own language and script .

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Literary works of the ancient Uyghurs were mostly translations of Buddhist and Manichaean religious texts, but there were narrative, poetic and epic works apparently original to the Uyghurs.

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However it is the literature of the Kara-Khanid period that is considered by modern Uyghurs to be the important part of their literary traditions.

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Uyghurs have local muqam systems named after the oasis towns of Xinjiang, such as Dolan, Ili, Kumul and Turpan.

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Russian scholar Pantusov writes that the Uyghurs manufactured their own musical instruments, they had 62 different kinds of musical instruments, and in every Uyghur home there used to be an instrument called a "duttar".

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Early in the communist era, Uyghurs had a choice of two separate secular school systems, one conducted in their own language and one offering instructions only in Chinese.

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Many Uyghurs linked the preservation of their cultural and religious identity with the language of instruction in schools and therefore preferred the Uyghur language school.

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However, many Uyghurs are employed in the mining, manufacturing, cotton, and petrochemical industries.

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Some Uyghurs have been given jobs through Chinese government affirmative action programs.

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Since the arrival of Islam most Uyghurs have used "Arabic names", but traditional Uyghur names and names of other origin are still used by some.

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