The Chinese government is placing Uighur Muslims, a minority group within Xinjiang*, into what can only be described as concentration camps. Horrific human rights violations are occurring in Xinjiang, China. Unfortunately, these atrocities are nothing new; humans have treated each other with such cruelty all throughout history. While it’s uncomfortable and heavy on the heart to learn about these topics, it is still essential to be aware of these occurrences.
China is persecuting Uighurs because of their alleged extremist views. In 2017, Xinjiang passed laws prohibiting long beards and veils which are predominant aspects of their religion and culture. Additionally, dozens of mosques have been destroyed in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has failed to acknowledge their human right abuses. Instead, they’re calling the camps “reeducation” and vocational training centers.
At least 1 million Muslims have been placed into camps since 2017. A 2020 report from the BBC estimates that there are about 380 camps within Xinjiang. Within these facilities, they have forced sterilization on women and exploited Uighurs for cheap labor. There was also a report of 13 tons of weaves made from forcibly removed human hair coming from the Xinjiang camps. Uighurs have allegedly been forced to eat pork and drink alcohol which goes against their religion. The have also been reports torture, rape and killing of Uighur Muslims. The Chinese government wants Uighur Muslims to repent from their religion; in doing so, they are subjecting them to gross human rights violations.
The U.S placed sanctions on Chinese officials, but many question their effectiveness. The sanctions only target Chinese assets held outside of China, but not many officials hold assets outside of China. Additionally, President Trump has considered changing the sanctions after trade negotiations came up. Some members of the EU have granted automatic asylum for Uyghur refugees, but no other serious action has been taken. The events occurring in Xinjiang do meet the United Nations’ classifications for genocide, but it hasn’t been officially declared as such by the United Nations.
It’s disheartening to learn about these topics, but what’s even more disappointing is the lack of action from national powers. The U.S took the economic route in addressing this atrocity whereas only some members of the EU are allowing Uighur Muslim refugees. Neither of these methods have stopped the genocide of Uighur Muslims. While it’s easy to feel helpless in a situation like this, the most important thing a WHS student can do is raise awareness. By shedding light on topics such as this, we are opening the door for action.
*Xinjiang is an autonomous territory in China, a region independent from the formal government.