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9 Laws 1 (2020)

handle is hein.journals/laws9 and id is 1 raw text is: 

        laws                                                                      MDPI


The Uyghur Minority in China: A Case Study of

Cultural Genocide, Minority Rights and the

Insufficiency of the International Legal Framework in

Preventing State-Imposed Extinction

Ciara Finnegan
Department  of Law, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, Ireland; ciara.finnegan.2014@mumail.ie

Received: 28 November 2019; Accepted: 7 January 2020; Published: 11 January 2020

Abstract: Raphael Lemkin, the man who founded the term 'genocide,' did so with a view to protecting
not  only physical beings from systematically imposed extinction, but also protecting their cultures
from  the same fate. However, in the wake of the atrocities and bloodshed of WWII, cultural genocide
was  omitted from the 1948 Genocide Convention, and as a result, does not constitute an international
crime.  This omission has left a lacuna in international law which threatens minority groups. Not
a  threat of loss of life but rather loss of the culture that distinguishes them and identifies them as
a  minority. Powerful States with indifferent attitudes towards their international obligations face
no  significantly harsher punishment for cultural genocide than they do for other human rights
transgressions. Consequently, cultural genocide continues as minority cultures are rendered extinct at
the  hands of States. The Case Study of this article investigates the present-day example of the Uyghur
minority  in China and analyzes whether this modern cultural genocide can pave the way for the
recognition of cultural genocide as an international crime or whether the Uyghur culture will become
a  cautionary tale for minorities in the future.

Keywords:   uyghur; uighur; minority rights; cultural genocide; raphael lemkin; china; china human
rights; china counter-terrorism; vocational education centres; international law

1. Introduction

     A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without
     -Marcus Garvey

Garvey illustrates in this quote the importance of culture to current and future generations of minority
peoples. Culture and knowledge of cultural heritage anchor a minority firmly within their identity
and allow them to carry out their lives as a community distinct from a majority population, be it due to
their ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics.
    Therefore, if this core culture is stripped from a minority people, in the sense that they are left to
physically survive but their culture has been forcibly destroyed, they are essentially a shell of their
former selves. This practice, known as cultural genocide, is often employed by States' governments,
representative of the majority, in order to extinguish the minority cultures and create a culturally
homogenous  State. This is currently the situation of the Uyghur minority in China, which will form
the case study of this article.

1  While paraphrased by Garvey, the quote originated in (Seifert 19338, p. 5).

Laws 2020, 9, 1; doi:10.3390/laws9010001


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