The Uighurs and the Chinese Government: History of Persecution

The Uighurs are a largely Muslim ethnic group based mainly in the Xinjiang autonomous region in northwestern China. Over 10 million Uighurs live in Xinjiang, which is about 45 percent of the region’s population of 24 million, and less than 1 percent of China’s total population. Uighur communities can also be found in Central Asia, particularly in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Uighur language is a part of the Turkic group of Altaic languages and shares similarities with Uzbek, Mongolian, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz languages. Faith is an important part of Uighurs’ culture and identity, as most of them practice a moderate form of Sunni Islam.