By Uyghur Times Staff
01 October 2021
In a move that has raised concerns, China has appointed a new governor for the region of Uyghurstan (also known as Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region), where the government has faced accusations of human rights abuses and genocide against Uyghur and other Muslim minority communities.
Erkin Tuniyaz, the acting governor, replaces Shohrat Zakir, who served as governor for seven years and whose resignation was accepted by the standing committee of the 13th People’s Congress of the region.
Tuniyaz, 59, is the only Uyghur member of the Communist Party in Uyghurstan and will hold the second-highest position in the province. Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party secretary, is considered the most powerful official in the region but has been criticized for his alleged involvement in mass detentions and is under sanctions by the United States.
Tuniyaz, who has a background in economics and law, has been known for staunchly defending Beijing’s policies and pushing back against allegations of human rights violations. The Chinese government has been accused of using detention facilities for members of minority communities under the guise of vocational training and deradicalization. However, Tuniyaz claimed in a video address to the UN that all trainees had graduated from these facilities by October 2019 and were leading normal lives.
Reports suggest that millions of Uyghurs and individuals from other Turkic minority communities have been detained in the region. China has enforced assimilation measures, including forced sterilizations and abortions, against the Uyghurs. The actions of the Chinese government have been deemed as genocide by the United States State Department, as well as the parliaments of Canada and the Netherlands, based on international law. Detention centers have reportedly been expanded with more permanent facilities, and individuals in the camps have been subjected to extrajudicial trials and transferred to high-security prisons for their religious activities and international connections.