The Uyghur genocide worsens in China

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‘Re-Education’ camps for Muslims in China have caused outcry from the international community.

Since 2017, at least two million Uyghurs have been interned in more than 85 concentration camps within Xinjiang, China. The Chinese government has stripped away the religious and other freedoms of the Uyghurs, in an oppressive system of mass surveillance, detention, indoctrination, and forced sterilization.

The Uyghurs are a primarily Muslim Turkic minority group that number about 11 million in Xinjiang in northwestern China. The province borders Kazakhstan and is also home to ethnic Kazakhs.

The U.S. government in August 2020 defined that China is performing genocide and crimes against Uyghur Muslims and ethnic and religious minority groups who live in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Protests against the oppression of the Uyghur population have been seen globally.

“Since at least March 2017, local authorities dramatically escalated their decades-long campaign of repression against Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups, including ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz,” said former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement issued on the last full day of the Trump administration.

According to Amnesty International those who resist or fail to show enough progress in the  “re-education camps” face penalties ranging from “verbal abuse to food deprivation, solitary confinement, beatings, and use of restraints and stress positions.” There have been various reports of deaths inside the facilities, including suicides of those helpless to the abuse.

“You forget to think about life outside the camp. I don’t know if they brainwashed us or if it was the side effect of the injections and pills, but you can’t think of anything beyond wishing you had a full stomach. The food deprivation is so severe,” said Tursunay Ziawudun, who spent nine months inside China’s network of internment camps, in an interview with BBC.

First-hand accounts from inside the internment camps are rare due to intense surveillance, but several former detainees and guards have spoken out about their experiences and brought evidence of an organized system of mass rape, sexual abuse, and torture.

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the U.S., said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

“There were many people in those cells who lost their minds,”  Ziawudun said.

Mohammad Ahmadi, senior, describes how the reports and eye-witness accounts coming out about the Uyghur situation in China are painful to hear especially as a Muslim.

“Countries around the world, especially Muslim-majority ones, must put human rights above economic interests and take a firm but careful approach to dealing with the Chinese government regarding this crisis. And as individuals, we can do our part by spreading awareness and putting pressure on our politicians to take urgent and robust action to help the Uyghur people.”

If you want to help the Uyghurs and learn more about their situation, click here.