China's Muslim Concentration Camps
By: Hina Haider
Xinjiang is a remote location in west China that is home to 11 million indigenous people. This relatively large district borders Mongolia, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India making it a gateway to central Asia. Xinjiang is abundant in natural resources including oil and natural gas adding to its vitality to the Chinese economy and recently acting as an epicenter of focus for the country’s government.
The native group to this remote region, Uyghurs, make up most of the Xinjiang population despite them being known as the ethnic minority in China. This group is historically known for its distinctly unique culture and its large muslim population. Recently however, Uyghurs have been pushed to rural regions of Xinjiang and now account for less than half the population. This push south has been partially due to the Han population- a group mainly consisting of east Asians- moving to Xinjiang. Their migration to Xinjiang has been heavily influenced by China’s efforts to increase their economy by using this region's abundant natural resources.
Since 2017, over one million Uyghurs have been detained in Chinese concentration camps where they have been subjected to torture, abuse, and overall inhumane treatement because of their Islamic religion. Their human rights are being brutally violated with victims having been forced to denounce themselves of being mulism, coerced into eating pork, and other severe violations of their human rights. Reports have surfaced of women being sexually assaulted and forced to marry Han men while the world remains silent.
Allegations of muslism concentration camps first surfaced years ago which China quickly denied- temporarily shutting down all accusations and halting public suspicion. Later, however, Chinese government officials admitted to having voluntary “vocational training centers'' or what they sometimes refer to as “boarding schools.” Officials have claimed that these “vocational training centers'' hold job workshops, along with Chinese language and law lessons. Contrary to China’s claims, former detainees have begun reaching out to various media outlets in an attempt to inform the world of the horrors muslims face in these camps. Keen on deception, China counters these claims and justify their actions as a way to combat religious extremism and fight islamic terromism. They have increased surveillance throughout the Xinjiang region, making it impossible to go more than 150 feet without identifying a camera. People have said to be abruptly stopped on the street, asked questions, and had an electronic device placed into their cell phones without probable cause by police.
Although having seen these concentration camps, many diplomats have been hesitant to publicly condemn China for fear of losing or suffering withdrawals from China’s economic ties. For reasons also involving economics, the United Nations has turned a blind eye as well causing trade to take precedence over human rights. Being backed up by their economic might, Chinas has been successful at squashing criticism and keeping this genocide from the public.
Despite this, it is our responsibility to hold China accountable. There are far too many parallels between the genocide against Jews and China’s actions against its Muslim citizens. With millions of lives at stake, we cannot allow history to repeat itself. Large strides should be taken to help rid chinese muslims from these domestic prisons and restore their civil liberties. To identify ways to help and support this cause please be sure to check out resources linked below.