The Plight of the Uyghurs: Mass Internment in Western China

November 20, 2019
poster for 11/13/19 panel on Uyghur internment

Rushan AbbasFounder and Director, Campaign for UyghursAaron L. FriedbergProfessor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton UniversityAdrian ZenzSenior Fellow in China Studies, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

Moderated by F. Flagg TaylorAssociate Professor of Political Science, Skidmore College

The Chinese Communist Party has reportedly detained between one and three million Uyghurs in Xinjiang in what the Party calls "Vocational Skills Education Training Centers" to "fight against terrorism and extremism." The Party has also placed tens of thousands of surveillance cameras around the region, installed surveillance apps on people's phones, and built a database of DNA samples and other biometric data. In fact, it could be said that Xinjiang has been turned into a panopticon where the Party seeks not only to control people's hearts and minds, but also to profit from this control. As the center of the Belt and Road Initiative, Xinjiang has become an ideal place for the fashion industry to build factories. This panel will provide an overview of the current status of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, sorting the facts from fictitious CCP talking points.

Rushan Abbas is the Founder and Director of Campaign for Uyghurs, which she founded in 2017 to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for Uyghurs and to mobilize the international community to act to stop the human rights atrocity in East Turkistan. She was a co-founder and the vice president of the Uyghur Overseas Student and Scholars Association and has served as vice president of the Uyghur American Association. When Radio Free Asia launched Uyghur service in 1998, Ms. Abbas was the first Uyghur reporter broadcasting daily to the Uyghur region. She has over 15 years of experience in global business development, international relations, and government affairs throughout the Middle East, Africa, CIS regions, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, and Latin America. She also has extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, State, Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies. She began her activism as a student, participating in the pro-democracy demonstrations at Xinjiang University in 1985 and 1988. 

Aaron L. Friedberg is Professor of Politics and International Affairs and Co-Director of the Woodrow Wilson School’s Center for International Security Studies at Princeton University. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a Senior Advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research. He is the author or co-editor of several books including A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia (2011), which has been translated into Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. His articles and essays have appeared in a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Commentary, The National Interest, The American Interest, The Weekly Standard, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, Survival, and International Security. In 2001-02 he was selected as the first occupant of the Henry A. Kissinger Chair at the Library of Congress. He has been a research fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Harvard University's Center for International Affairs. He has served as Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in the office of the Vice President, on the Defense Policy Board, and on the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Democracy Promotion. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Council on Foreign Relations. He received his A.B. and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. 

Adrian Zenz is Senior Fellow in China Studies for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and supervises Ph.D. students at the European School of Culture and Theology, Korntal, Germany. His research focus is on China’s ethnic policy and public recruitment in Tibet and Xinjiang. He is author of Tibetanness under Threat (2013) and co-editor (with Jarmila Ptackova) of Mapping Amdo: Dynamics of Change (2017). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and a M.A. in Development Studies from the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

F. Flagg Taylor is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Honors Forum at Skidmore College. He teaches courses on the history of political philosophy, totalitarianism and dissent, and executive power and constitutional law. He is co-author of The Contested Removal Power, 1789-2010 (2013) and editor of The Long Night of the Watchman: Essays by Václav Benda, 1977-1989 (2018), Totalitarianism on Screen: The Art and Politics of The Lives of Others (2014, with Carl Eric Scott), and The Great Lie: Classic and Recent Appraisals of Ideology and Totalitarianism (2011). He is a member of the Academic Council of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and was a 2018-19 James Madison Program Visiting Fellow. A graduate of Kenyon College, he received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Fordham University.

Location:

Maeder Auditorium, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment

Cosponsored by:

  • The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation