China Faces Accusation of Erasing Uyghur Culture Through Renaming

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is raising alarm over China’s renaming of villages in Xinjiang, BBC reported in an article recently.

The group alleges CCP has carried out a systematic effort to erase Uyghur Muslim culture through name changes.

Their report, analyzing Chinese government data from 2009 to 2023, claims hundreds of villages with Uyghur historical, religious, or cultural references were renamed. Words like “sultan” and “shrine” are being replaced with generic terms like “harmony” and “happiness” or those reflecting Chinese Communist Party ideology.

Researchers found that while over 3,600 villages in Xinjiang (out of 25,000) changed names during this period, roughly 630 specifically removed Uyghur references. This translates to about one-fifth of all name changes erasing Uyghur identity.  China denies the accusations, but HRW’s report adds to concerns about potential human rights abuses against Uyghurs.

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