“Re-Education Camps.” That’s a fancier, less-harsh sounding way of saying “Internment Camps”. These Internment Camps in China are specifically for Muslims to go through “de-extremization.” What does this mean? This means that China’s government believes that being Muslim means being extremist, and that they need to stop Muslims living in China from believing what they do because they could be potentially dangerous to their country.
China has been facing international criticism for these camps, yet they continue to defend themselves and their decision to set these camps up. In fact, in attempts to lessen the criticism, they explained the purpose of these camps as being “an effort to provide legal education and job-training in humane, people-oriented facilities in a region steeped in poverty and religious fundamentalism.” This quote was taken from an article The Washington Post wrote about the on-going issue.
Now, some people may doubt that the Xinjiang Internment Camp is aimed at causing Muslims to become “less extreme” and potentially even converting them as a result, but it is estimated that China has so far detained up to a million Muslims from ethnic minorities in top-secret branches of the re-education center operating outside the scope of the Chinese courts. In a first-person account of what the camps are really like, Sayragul Sauytbay stated that the camps are said to be “political camps” for citizens to go through, but really they operate more like prisons where the citizens are being held, and treated as prisoners. At least 20 other people say they can attest to this statement, saying they were either formerly part of the camps as well, or know family members who have been forced to go through the camp process.
According to further evidence, the ethnic Uighur Muslims have been the most targeted group, along with Kazakhs residing in China. In these “re-education camps”, these groups are forced to go through indoctrination by the Chinese government. Reading these accounts brings horror to my bones, because the words and phrases used to describe the situation at hand seem to echo those used when recounting the Holocaust.
But how can we stop something that is so obviously illegal, if it’s being acted out by the government, the group of people who are supposed to be making and enforcing the law and preventing illegal acts from occurring?
One former detainee named Mr. Bekali said that he was contemplating suicide after just 20 days in the camp, because that’s how heinous the conditions and indoctrination methods are. I think it’s obvious that these camps need to be shutdown completely, as soon as possible. But how can we stop something that is so obviously illegal, if it’s being acted out by the government, the group of people who are supposed to be making and enforcing the law and preventing illegal acts from occurring? In another quote from The Washington Post, it’s explained that, “People who have recently arrived here from China told of villages with checkpoints and countless security cameras and scanners where those suspected of having foreign ties can be interrogated, held without charge and sent to “re-education centers” indefinitely.” INDEFINITELY. Someone please explain to me how this could possibly be reality? The people who do make it out tell of their days where they had to sing propaganda songs such as “Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China” while stuck in over-packed cells. The online news website, Independent, released an article explaining that some detainees were being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, two things that Muslims typically value not partaking in. This is genuinely and undoubtedly a form of brain-washing, and furthermore, abuse of power, abuse in general, and unequivocally, blatant racism.
Whilst reading their accounts and writing this article, I keep wanting to tell myself that this has to be a joke. That it can’t possibly be reality. One man said that he had been waterboarded. Can you imagine? Prisoners in the re-education camps are being tortured.
These people are innocent. They are being punished for their beliefs. It’s terrifying to me to think that if my family was living in China, that could be me or my sisters. The Chinese government of course, keeps dodging questions from all over the globe. Their latest claim is that the “overall situation of Xinjiang society is stable, the momentum of its economic development is good, and ethnic groups live in harmony.” These words are laughable at best. How they have the audacity to use the word ‘harmony’ in a statement such as this one will never fail to baffle me. Because of these absurd claims, the camps being so secretive, and the government being behind this corruption, it feels like there sadly isn’t much we can do to help.
The more we, as a human race, know about the injustices that take place all over the world, the greater the chances that we are able to band together to stop it in the future, or avert it from beginning in the first place.
What we can do, however, is continue to urge the U.N. to call for China to take action in shutting down these camps. Calling in to our state’s Senates, urging them to call our lawmakers to write to the Trump administration, asking for sanctions on Chinese officials would not be a bad idea, especially since allegedly, that has already made a slight difference in the way these camps are being run and how much they’re able to get away with. We can also continue to educate ourselves on this frightening issue, since not much light is being shed on it because they are being operated behind-the-scenes, so to speak. The more we, as a human race, know about the injustices that take place all over the world, the greater the chances that we are able to band together to stop it in the future, or avert it from beginning in the first place.