The Chinese Communist Party is claiming that its re-education camps for Uyghur Muslims, who are targeted to erode their faith, are actually vocational training centers aimed at making their life “colorful.” Almost a million Uyghurs are believed to have been brainwashed through the detention centers and the United States government is mulling sanctions on China for the deplorable treatment of its own citizens.
The re-education camps
According to Chinese officials, the re-education camps teache people how to make clothes, electronic products, footwear, typesetting, etc. so that they can be ready for employment opportunities. Many Uyghurs, who were previously identified as having held extremist beliefs, are said to have given up such views. However, those who have experienced the camps have a far different story to tell.
“People who have witnessed or been interned in one of Xinjiang’s re-education or detention camps have described being shackled and beaten up, and forced to sing patriotic songs about Chinese President Xi Jinping in order to be fed. Some also described being told to renounce their religion, and believe that the Communist Party would take care of them instead,” according to Business Insider.
Uyghurs are reportedly being sent to the re-education camps for reasons as flimsy as knowing someone who went out from Xinjiang. People who set their clocks two hours behind Beijing time have also been detained by the authorities. Chinese officials seem to be hell-bent on stamping out everything Islamic about the Uyghurs and converting them into a Communist-approved version of what a citizen should be.
“Harsh new legal penalties have been introduced to curtail Islamic identity and practice — banning, among other things, long beards and headscarves, the religious instruction of children, and even Islamic-sounding names. The policies appear to mark a fundamental shift in official thinking — separatism is no longer framed as a problem of a few isolated individuals, but as a problem inherent within Uyghur culture and Islam in general,” according to the BBC.
The U.S. has been very vocal about how the Uyghurs have suffered under the Chinese government. Senators Christopher H. Smith and Marco Rubio introduced a bill that seeks to impose sanctions on Chinese leaders so as to stop the persecution of the Uyghur community. Both senators also wrote a letter to the FBI Director asking to help Uyghur citizens in the U.S. from being harassed by Chinese sympathizers.
“Members of the Uyghur diaspora community in the United States have indicated they are unwilling to appear at public events, including congressional hearings, out of fear they will be surveilled and their family members in China punished as a result. This is unacceptable,” according to the letter (The Washington Post).
The propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party has been successful in keeping the public largely unaware of the cruelties happening in Xinjiang. The media is heavily censored to ensure that the detention camps being run for Uyghurs are portrayed as something that is “for their own good.”
However, the United States is giving hope to the people of Xinjiang. Given that China is already in a trade war with the U.S., more sanctions on Beijing can have a disastrous effect on the Chinese economy. This might give America more bargaining power to force the Communist Party to at least soften their attack on the Uyghur Muslim community.