|China Views Uighurs In Western As A Problem|
Chinese officials have admitted some citizens guilty of minor offenses were being sent to vocational centers to work. A general consensuses exist that people not charged with crimes can "disappear" in China and their families are left with little or no information as to where they have gone, in the past this has been used to control dissidents, people who oppose official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state, now it is being used to control Uighurs. While China claims Xinjiang faces a threat from Islamist militants and separatists it rejects all accusations of mistreatment and denies mass internment instead it takes the stand these training centers are a preventive measure to combat terrorism. Social stability is viewed as very important to the Chinese government and 22 months without an incident of violent terrorism is enough proof the program has merit in the eyes of officials.
A Chinese delegate from Xinjiang said Chinese authorities are “providing free-of-charge vocational training with a diploma after exams” to those who had been “coerced or lured” by extremist groups. The ruling Communist Party has depicted these "re-education camps" as an attempt to bring the largely Muslim minority into the “modern, civilized” world and to promote what the government calls “ethnic unity,” but in simpler terms the apparent goal is to force detainees to renounce Islam and embrace the Chinese communist party and an effort to fully control the hearts and minds of its population. China has gone so far as claiming Uighur Muslims are grateful to be detained in mass internment camps which make their lives more “colorful.”
|Many Uighurs Are Held In "Re-education Camps"|
More can be learned from a woman who said she was tortured and abused at an internment camp where the Chinese government detained hundreds of thousands of people from religious minorities. In Washington, Mihrigul Tursun, 29, told reporters she was interrogated for four days without sleep, had her hair shaved, was electrocuted and was subjected to an intrusive medical examination following her second arrest in China in 2017. She was arrested three times and each time the treatment grew worse. “I thought that I would rather die than go through this torture and begged them to kill me,” she told journalists at a meeting at the National Press Club.
Since then, reports have noted malnourishment, numerous deaths particularly among the elderly and infirm, and the forced administration of psychiatric drugs. Tursun was raised in China but moved to Egypt to study English, there she met her husband with whom she had triplets. When she traveled back to China to spend time with her family in 2015 she was immediately detained and separated from her infant children. When released three months later she found one of the triplets had died and the other two had developed health problems, she said the children had been operated on. She was arrested for a second time about two years later and she was detained a third-time several months after that. Tursun spent three months in a cramped prison cell with 60 other women, they slept in turns and used the toilet in front of security cameras. Part of their time was spent singing songs praising China’s Communist Party.
Tursun also claims she and other inmates were forced to take unknown medication that made them faint, and a white liquid that caused bleeding in some women and loss of menstruation in others. She said nine women from her cell died during her three months there. One day, Tursun recalled, she was led into a room and placed in a high chair, and her legs and arms were locked in place. “The authorities put a helmet-like thing on my head, and each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently and I would feel the pain in my veins,” she said and added, “I don’t remember the rest. White foam came out of my mouth, and I began to lose consciousness,” Tursun said. “The last word I heard them saying is that you being an Uighur is a crime.” Tursun was eventually released so that she could take her children to Egypt, when ordered to return to China she contacted U.S. authorities and was able to come to America and settled in Virginia.
|Uyghurs Are Often Treated Harshly By China's Government|
China’s Great Fire Wall which is considered the largest, most extensive and most advanced internet censorship tool in the world censors content for a variety of reasons, often because it’s critical of the Chinese government or contrary to Communist Party policy. It is a key part of this suppression and is designed to wall the country off from free access to the Internet. In doing so, China hopes in Xinjiang to halt cultural exchanges with Central Asia such as political satire that could reinforce Uyghurs’ Turkic and Central Asian identity. Crackdowns such as these and forced assimilation are intended to reduce the risk of a flow of ideas and influences through the "open borders" needed for economic development.
It is seen as the only way China can cement the Xinjiang region into its framework of China’s infrastructure-driven Belt and Road initiatives that span Eurasia. Lessons learnt not only from recent Chinese history but also the experience of others indicate forced assimilation through stepped-up repression and intimidation often fails and creates a rather mean backlash, however, that has yet to be seen and only time will tell. While China is "not our monkey and not our circus" it is still important we recognize what is occurring there so that we do not allow ourselves to slip or be pulled into a similar trap.