Authoritarianism, human rights and securitization. The securitization of the Uyghurs in the People’s Republic of China

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Nobel, Cecilie Seidelin
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This thesis will research the differences in the measures used to deal with security threats between democratic and authoritarian states. Such extreme security practices have been studied extensively through the framework of securitization. However, while the theory explains how security is constructed and why different actors can justify measures beyond the ordinary rules of society, it has not included the variable regime type and thus cannot account for how it affects the scope of the measures implemented. This is due to the development of the theory based almost exclusively on democratic countries. Therefore, this research will investigate how authoritarianism as a regime type affects the scope and intensity of extraordinary security measures used to deal with a securitized issue, through the securitization of the Uyghur minority population in the Xinjiang Autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, which occurred primarily in the year following 9/11. The analysis is based on a source critical, comparative, discourse analysis of primary source material in original language, substantiated by existing academic literature in the field. It is concluded that authoritarianism as a regime type permits a widening of the scope and intensity of the extraordinary measures used to deal with securitized issues, which is due to the power dynamics in the speaker-audience relationship, leading to a larger threshold for audience rejection and the lack of counterbalancing influence and de-securitizing power afforded to functional actors. Both are affected by the authoritarian regime type.
Second semester University: University of Tartu
authoritarianism, democracy, human rights, security, minority groups, China