One Million Muslims Placed in Chinese Concentration Camps

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One Million Muslims Placed in Chinese Concentration Camps

Photo taken from The Telegraph

Photo taken from The Telegraph

Photo taken from The Telegraph

Photo taken from The Telegraph

Jessica Townsend, Editor

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In Xinjiang, China, there lies a huge building with a 2km-long exterior wall, punctuated by 16 guard towers. Satelites show 44 of these facilities across the country. It is labeled as a re-education center, “combating extremism, through a mixture of legal theory, work skills and Chinese language training.” However, this doesn’t seem to be true. BBC news held a lengthy investigation interviewing victims and sending corespondents to China, and their discoveries were eerily familiar to some other “re-education” camps.

State-run television has shown many videos rifled with propaganda. In the films, the camp appears to be a clean, glossy school, with well-behaved students. In the videos, none of the female students are wearing headscarves, suggesting a prejudiced dress code. One student says, “I have deeply understood my own mistakes, I vow to be a good citizens when I return home.”

Most of the “students” in these camps are Uighurs, who despite technically living in China, often only speak turkish. The area is known for frequent riots and violence. Xinjiang became independent a few short times before China’s communist rule took over.

The truth of these schools is very different from the videos. Officials appear to be looking for any excuse to lock up Uighurs.  Abdusalam Muhemet was detained for reciting an Islamic verse at a funeral. Ali, who was too frightened to give his real name, was detained for having a picture of a woman wearing a niqab on his phone. He says “one old lady was there for having made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and an old man for not paying his water bill on time.” Citizens of all ages are brought to these re-education centers without trials.

One victim, Ablet Tursun Tohti, says that detainees were forced to run after being woken up. He says, “there was a special room to punish those who didn’t run fast enough. There were two men there, one to beat with a belt, the other just to kick.” Instead of toilets, they were given bowls. They had to recite laws, and would be beaten if they said them wrong. They were also forced to sing ‘Without the Communist Party There Can Be No New China’. Tohti was only detained for a month in 2015, but in the past two years, nobody has been released. He has taken refuge in Turkey, but his grandfather and eight siblings are still inside.

According to the BBC investigation, “Xinjiang has been the target of some of the most restrictive and comprehensive security measures ever deployed by a state against its own people. These include the large-scale use of technology – facial recognition cameras, monitoring devices that read the content of mobile phones and the mass collection of biometric data.” The government has also censored Muslims identities. They have banned headscarves, long beards, Islamic names, and the religious teaching of children. Uighur government officials are not allowed to attend mosque,  fast during Ramadan, or practice Islam.

There are smaller detainment facilities in other Chinese cities as well. On some of the padlocked doors, there is a notice instructing people how to respond to questions about where their family members have gone. It says to tell people that they’re being “looked after for the good of society and their families.”

The Chinese government has not commented of any of these allegations.

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