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China: The Uighur Tragedy

105/91/57 mins   |  Romain Franklin, Francois Reinhardt  |  2022    


A DECOUPAGES, YUZU Productions, ARTE GEIE co-production

With the participation of RTBF, RTS, with the support of the Ile-de-France Region, Procirep-Angoa, CNC

World sales: JAVA FILMS


China's repression of the Uighur population and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is akin to genocide: more than a million people are being arbitrarily detained in camps where they undergo torture, re-education, forced labour, and are banned from speaking their own language. Children are also being re-educated in so-called “orphanages” while women are submitted to forced sterilization. Uyghur culture is being systematically destroyed.


China's policy can be summed up by this instruction given by Xi Jinping during a top secret speech in 2014 to Chinese officials: engage in a "total fight against terrorism, infiltration and separatism" by using "all the tools of dictatorship", and show "absolutely no mercy".


Under the pretext of fighting Islamic radicalism and poverty, the Chinese Communist Party secretly built 1,400 internment camps and set about eradicating Uyghur culture and its entire intelligentsia. It took many years for the international community to start to take notice, but Beijing persists in disguising the reality, claiming to be simply offering the Uyghur population vocational training to combat poverty. 


What are the real reasons behind this relentless repression? Some would like to believe it is limited to China, when in fact the future of democracy and freedom in the world may be at stake. How does the past shed light on the present situation? 


This film, which combines archives, testimonies from survivors of the detention camps, and the reflections of Chinese and foreign experts, gives a detailed account of the facts. It sheds light on the extent and the many methods of this erasure of a people which, arguably, is unprecedented since the Second World War. 


This documentary digs into history in order to show how and why the Chinese Communist Party tries to forcibly assimilate the Uyghurs -- a mainly muslim Turkic-speaking people.

The goal seems to be to make them “disappear” in order to cement the unity of the 56 Chinese ethnic groups around the dominant Han Chinese ethnic group, which represents 92% of the population. For China, forging at all costs this “national unity” is a precondition to becoming a world superpower. 


For the first time, this film brings together all the elements needed to understand the reasons and stakes behind this crime against humanity.


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