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The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs according to Hannah Arendt’s “Right to Have Rights”: Analytical Essay

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Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to present a more inclusive definition of human rights through Hannah Arendt’s “right to have rights”. It first introduces the criticisms, recommendations, and a general analysis of the common responsibility of international, domestic, and individual actors, and proceeds to view these criticisms, recommendations, and analyses through the Right to Have Rights Framework. The chapter concludes with reconfiguring the normative concept of human rights and viewing these on the basis of natality and common responsibility, therefore partaking in the possible improvements of policies, concepts, and, ultimately, the human rights situation of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China.

1 Introduction

The normative definition of human rights revolves around the concepts of citizenship, governments, and the laws provided to citizens to protect said rights. Such was the case of Hannah Arendt during the time of the Holocaust when the Jews were removed from their citizenship through law and were identified as strictly Jews (Arendt, 1951). By this definition of human rights, the rights of the people are bound to be removed once their citizenship is denied.

According to Isin and Turner (2007), the rights of citizens are created by states. These rights, together with the liberties these bring, are better protected by the state where an individual belongs to, with citizenship as the determining factor of one’s life in a state (Isin and Turner, 2007). Following the normative definition of human rights, rights are and should be, protected and upheld by governments and their laws as these are the governments’ responsibilities to their citizens.

During the start of the Nazi state, the Jews were removed from their citizenship through law and were identified as strictly Jews, leading to rights being denied and millions being killed. Given that they were considered as the underclass or the inferior race, the Government did not recognize them as citizens and resorted to invalidating their passports until they presented it to the Government to have the letter “J” stamped on it to signify that they were of the Jewish population and were separate from the other Europeans. They released anti-Semitism propaganda in order to gain support and to validate the actions that they were about to undertake (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2020).

Hannah Arendt, being one of those who experienced the actions of the Nazi state, concluded that human rights are dependent on one’s citizenship. As experienced by her and the other Jews, the Third Reich quickly became a regime where basic rights were unacknowledged (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2020). Camps were built and people were sent to gas chambers to be killed. It was not until Hannah Arendt moved to the United States and was recognized as a citizen was she able to fully enjoy her inherent rights (Arendt, 1951).

2 Normative Perspective

2.1 Official Government Perspectives

The PRC acknowledges the existence of the rights of its citizens. It repeatedly refers to its Constitution when dealing with human rights, and is using this to argue that the State upholds human rights when faced with criticisms. The situation of human rights used to be very difficult and harsh for the old Chinese (Information Office of the State Council Of the People’s Republic of China, 1991). After the founding of what is known now to be the PRC, the Government and its people spared no effort to safeguard human rights and steadily improve their human rights situation. The Government acknowledges the UDHR as the first international human rights document that has laid the foundation for the practice of human rights in the world arena (Information Office of the State Council Of the People’s Republic of China, 1991), which follows the normative definition of human rights.

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The rights of the people are found in the Constitution, and it is through this that the Government both grants and denies rights. According to the Information Office of the State Council Of the People’s Republic of China (1991), Chinese human rights have three salient characteristics: extensiveness, equality, and authenticity. The first characteristic explains that the Government pays attention to the rights of the entire Chinese citizenry. The human rights enjoyed by the Chinese citizenry encompass an extensive scope, including not only survival, personal and political rights, but also economic, cultural, and social rights (Information Office of the State Council Of the People’s Republic of China, 1991). The second characteristic shows that the PRC, after adopting a socialist system, ensures that all the citizens enjoy civic rights equally irrespective of money and property status as well as of nationality, race, sex, occupation, family background, religion, level of education, and duration of residence (Information Office of the State Council Of the People’s Republic of China, 1991). The third characteristic mentions that the State provides guarantees in terms of system, laws, and material means for the realization of human rights.

The normative perspective on the human rights of the PRC is best reflected in the fact that it views and provides rights based on the Constitution and the Government. It is through these that the Chinese are given the right to freedom of person alongside their other rights. It is also through these that citizens are denied rights and are punished if the individual fails to do what the Constitution requires one to do or does anything illegal as per the Constitution.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), since its establishment in September 1969, is the second-largest intergovernmental organization with a total of 57 Member States across four continents around the globe (Organization of Islamic Cooperation, 2019). Having branded itself as “The Collective Voice of The Muslim World”, the OIC aims to protect and uphold the interest of the Muslim world while promoting international peace and harmony (ibid.).

As stated in its Charter, one of the main objectives of the OIC is to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, children, youth, the elderly, and people with special needs (ibid.). In order to oversee these objectives, the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) is established as one of the principal organs of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (IPHRC, 2019). The rights of women and children, the right to education and human rights education, the right to development, Islamophobia and Muslim minorities, and Palestine are identified by the IPHRC as its key areas of priority (ibid.).

The OIC and the PRC have established friendly ties over the years through multiple dialogues and friendly interactions. For instance, in June 2010, PRC’s Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Wu Bangguo met up with the OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu in an attempt to push for friendly relations with the Islamic World (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Australia, 2010 & Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2010). During the meeting, Wu Bangguo also briefed Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on China’s national and religious policies as well as the social and economic situation of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (ibid.).

The PRC has also been consistently supportive of Palestine and its cause (The State Council of the People’s Republic of China, 2015). In fact, PRC’s permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun openly stated in the General Assembly debate that ‘China is a sincere and good friend, partner and brother of the Palestinian people. It firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights’ (Xinhua, 2019).

Amidst claims of Uyghur oppression based on multiple reports released by international organizations, the OIC, is an organization whose aim is to “safeguard the rights, dignity and religious and cultural identity of Muslim communities and minorities in non-Member States” (Organization of Islamic Cooperation, 2008), has adopted a resolution in March 2019 which explicitly states that the OIC (2019) “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens”. With the OIC’s relaxed response to China, international pressure over the PRC’s discriminating policies toward Uyghurs in Xinjiang is at risk of further diminishing. Without significant international pressure on the PRC, human rights violations against the Uyghurs will persist and their overall situation is invalidated.

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The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs according to Hannah Arendt’s “Right to Have Rights”: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-human-rights-situation-of-the-uyghurs-according-to-hannah-arendts-right-to-have-rights-analytical-essay/
“The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs according to Hannah Arendt’s “Right to Have Rights”: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-human-rights-situation-of-the-uyghurs-according-to-hannah-arendts-right-to-have-rights-analytical-essay/
The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs according to Hannah Arendt’s “Right to Have Rights”: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-human-rights-situation-of-the-uyghurs-according-to-hannah-arendts-right-to-have-rights-analytical-essay/> [Accessed 2 Feb. 2023].
The Human Rights Situation of the Uyghurs according to Hannah Arendt’s “Right to Have Rights”: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 2]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-human-rights-situation-of-the-uyghurs-according-to-hannah-arendts-right-to-have-rights-analytical-essay/
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