China has been accused of oppressing and breaching the human rights of the Uyghur people in its western Xinjiang province.
There have been widespread reports of Uyghur people being held against their will in “re-education” centres, undergoing forced contraception and being subjected to a range of other restrictions.
China says the claims are “baseless” and have repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Uyghurs, saying they live in “peace and harmony”.
But who are the Uyghurs – pronounced “wee-gers” – and why might the Chinese state allegedly be targeting them?
Who are the Uyghur people?
The Uyghurs are a group of people who live mostly in the Xinjiang area of China.
They have been living there for at least several hundred years and there is good evidence that they may have lived there in some form for several thousand years.
They are generally regarded as a Turkic people, which means they speak a language related to Turkish and have ancestors who came from the traditional homeland of the Turks – north of central Asia.
But studies of their genetic make-up suggest that they also have ancestors who came from other parts of the world, with European DNA mixed with Chinese, south Asian, Siberian, and central Asian.
What have the Chinese been accused of?
China has been accused of interning one million Uyghurs in “re-education” centres in Xinjiang.
In 2019, leaked documents emerged that contradicted Chinese government claims that the detention camps were voluntary job training centres.
The classified papers appeared to confirm what former detainees had been saying, that the camps were centres for forced ideological and behavioural re-education, or brainwashing.
The Chinese government has been accused of forcing Uyghur women and member of other minorities to take part in birth control as part of a campaign to curb its Muslim population.
Footage has emerged over the last few years purporting to show hundreds of blindfolded and shackled prisoners – who were thought to be from the Uyghur population – being marched by guards in the Xinjiang city of Korla.
Sky News has also found evidence of children of exiled Uyghurs going missing in Xinjiang.
Why might the Chinese oppress the Uyghurs?
Xinjiang, where an estimated 80% of China’s Uyghurs are said to live, is China’s most western province.
It is a politically sensitive region – surrounded by eight other countries.
As the home of a significant proportion of the Silk Road, it has long been used as a thoroughfare along which goods from China have travelled.
Some, possibly most, Uyghurs do not accept that Xinjiang is part of China, citing the evidence that Uyghur people lived in the area before Chinese Han and Tang dynasties set up protectorates.
Xinjiang, as it is now, came under Chinese Qing dynasty rule in the 18th century, but there have been many times in its history when it was not under Chinese control.
In modern times, China has been increasing the number of non-Uyghurs in Xinjiang, so the proportion of Uyghurs in the region is declining.
Some Uyghurs resent that they are becoming, in their view, increasingly marginalised in the land where they have lived for centuries.
What unites the Uyghur people?
The Uyghurs are predominantly Muslim and have been for at least several hundred years.
But they have a rich and complex cultural history, stretching back millennia, with archaeological sites in Xinjiang showing that many in the past adhered to Buddhist beliefs, as well as those of other religions which now have relatively few followers.
Artworks discovered in caves in Xinjiang were made by Buddhist devotees who are believed to have been among some of the ancestors of modern Uyghur people.
They show the diversity of the society at the time, with images dating from the fifth to 14th centuries of Indians, Persians, Chinese and even some resembling Europeans on the cave walls.
Uyghurs are also united by a common language, which is related to Turkish, and by a shared culture of music, dance, food and other traditions.
How long have Uyghurs been in Xinjiang?
The oldest known inhabitants of the Tarim basin, a part of Xinjiang, are the Tarim mummies.
The mummified remains have European features and it has been claimed that the people spoke a language related to European Celtic. They lived about 3,800 years ago.
But there have been many influxes of people since then.
One of the key factors that has influenced who lives in the area is the presence of the Silk Road – the main worldwide trade route from Roman to Medieval times – through Xinjiang along which travelled goods and people.
Some Chinese experts argue that Uyghur people arrived in Xinjiang around the eighth and ninth centuries after the fall of a society further north called the Uyghur Khaganate.
Other experts, however, say that those arrivals were just one of the many waves of immigration into the area, and the modern Uyghur population reflects those past movements of people.
This article was originally published in 2020.
Donald Trump faces criminal charges over alleged hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels
Donald Trump has been indicted on criminal charges arising from an alleged hush money payment to an adult film actress.
A grand jury in New York voted to indict Trump over possible offences related to a $130,000 (£105,000) payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
It was allegedly made in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an alleged sexual encounter she said she had with Trump a decade earlier.
He is the first former US president to face criminal charges in court, even as he makes a bid to retake the White House in 2024.
Trump, a Republican, said he was “completely innocent” and called the indictment “political persecution”, with his lawyers saying they will “vigorously fight” it.
Live updates: Prosecutors launch criminal case against Trump
The Manhattan district attorney’s investigation centred on accusations of money paid to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, whom Trump allegedly feared would go public with claims they had extramarital sexual encounters with him.
Trump, 76, has denied having affairs with either woman.
His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said he co-ordinated with Trump on the payments to Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, and also to McDougal.
Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018 related to the payments and served more than a year in prison.
Federal prosecutors said Cohen acted at Trump’s direction.
Trump said: “The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable – indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference.”
“Never before in our nation’s history has this been done.”
He added: “I believe this witch-hunt will backfire massively on Joe Biden.”
Trump says investigations ‘straight out of Stalinist Russia horror show’
Who is Stormy Daniels?
How many investigations is former US president facing?
Trump was expected to surrender to authorities next week.
He has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly attacked the investigation by district attorney Alvin Bragg.
His office has spent nearly five years investigating Trump and the grand jury has been hearing its evidence since January.
Trump son hits out at indictment
On Twitter, one of Trump’s sons, Eric, wrote: “This is third world prosecutorial misconduct. It is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year.”
Amid speculation in recent weeks that the former American leader was due to be indicted, Trump urged his supporters to protest against the authorities if he was detained.
He published a long statement describing the investigation as a “political witch-hunt trying to take down the leading candidate, by far, in the Republican Party”.
“I did absolutely nothing wrong,” he said, before criticising a “corrupt, depraved and weaponised justice system”.
Other ongoing cases Trump faces include a Georgia election interference probe and two federal investigations into his role in the 6 January 2001 insurrection at the US Capitol.
Donald Trump indicted: Who is Stormy Daniels and what is former president accused of doing?
Donald Trump has been indicted by a grand jury in New York, making him the first ex-president to face criminal charges.
The case against him centres on a $130,000 (£105,000) payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Live updates – Prosecutors launch first ever criminal case against former president
What is Trump accused of doing?
Ms Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006, which the former US president denies.
In 2016 when he was running for president, she offered to sell her story to the press.
Mr Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen was notified of her plans, resulting in a $130,000 (£105,000) payment being made to keep Ms Daniels quiet.
Once he was elected, Mr Trump reimbursed Mr Cohen by paying him more than double the original amount. He continued to deny the affair, however.
New York investigators have been looking into the former president’s finances for years – originally led by former District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
But when he was replaced with Alvin Bragg in 2022, Mr Bragg decided to drop the grand jury investigation into claims the Trump empire fraudulently inflated its real estate value.
Instead he decided to focus on the hush money case last summer, impanelling a grand jury (one assembled in secret to determine whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute) in January.
Soon after Mr Cohen, who was jailed on several counts in 2018, was summoned by prosecutors.
According to court documents, Mr Trump falsely listed his former lawyer’s reimbursement as “legal services”.
What charges could Trump face?
It is not yet known what Mr Trump will be charged with.
But among the options for prosecutors is an accounting fraud charge over the payment made to Mr Cohen.
They could also decide to indict him on campaign fraud charges – as silencing Ms Daniels’s claims could have helped propel him to power.
Mr Trump has described the investigation as a politically motivated “witch hunt”.
Donald Trump indicted: Former president will want circus of New York court appearance as he claims he is the victim
In the midst of a comeback, it is quite the comedown.
The courthouse in New York’s Bowery district – aka ‘Skid Row’ before its gentrification – has seen its share of society’s sad cases through the years.
A former president could hardly fall any further.
And yet its to this setting that Donald Trump will be brought for the common criminal treatment, notwithstanding a break with common criminal procedure.
Follow live updates as Trump reacts to indictment
Who is Stormy Daniels and what is Trump accused of?
The court process in lower Manhattan will include the taking of personal details and fingerprints. There will also a photograph taken, the ‘mugshot’ of the Donald in the frame for a felony, potentially.
Trump is said to welcome the prospect of a New York appearance.
He wants the circus, believing it will cast him as the victim in an act of political aggression before an audience that’s sufficiently sympathetic.
It’s already worked for him. When he announced, prematurely, news of his arrest on his social media platform, his fundraising surged to more than $1.5 million.
Trump being Trump stirs his support base, without doubt. But what he carries in close support he drops in those more distant.
The moderate Republicans and swing voters who turned their back on him in 2020, and at the recent mid-term elections, won’t necessarily be turned round by a candidate who is criminally-adjacent on a number of fronts.
Don’t forget that this particular case is the least serious that he faces, compared with investigations into the January 6th insurrection, the handling of classified documents and alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election result in the state of Georgia.
Trump’s claims of a political witch-hunt have found an echo among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Some of the party’s House committee chairmen have called for the prosecuting district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to explain before Congress what they call “a politically motivated prosecutorial decision.”
It is the mood music that plays in parallel to this New York case and, they might hope, the others. If Donald Trump can shake it off – and a number of legal experts believe it will be difficult to prosecute – he will undoubtedly portray that as supporting evidence of an overall effort by a weaponised justice system to target him politically.
It is the politics of justice and everyone, it seems, is having a say. In laying criminal charges, justice has begun to speak for itself.
In the meantime, America lives through history as it happens. Serious media organisations publish articles on the practicalities of a felon running the country, chin-stroking on how a conviction could impact on the operational capacity of the leader of the free world.
He is the unprecedented president, as ever.
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