China has rejected claims one million of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority are being held in internment camps, while it has also insisted “there are no such things” as re-education centres.
The country responded to concerns, raised by a member of a UN human rights committee, that its Xinjiang region has been turned into “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone”.
Human rights expert Gay McDougall, a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, last week highlighted reports that more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities are being held in counter-extremism centres, the UK Times reports.
Another two million “have been forced” into re-education camps for “political and cultural indoctrination”, Ms McDougall had claimed, as she cited the work of rights groups.
However, a Chinese official hit back at the allegations in an appearance before the committee on Monday, insisting all Xinjiang citizens, including Uighurs, “enjoy equal freedom and rights”.
Ma Youqing, among 50 high-level Chinese officials to answer questions from the committee, said:
“The argument that one million Uighurs are detained in re-education centres is completely untrue.”
He added: “There is neither deliberate targeting at a particular ethnic minority, nor suppressing or restricting the rights or the freedom of religious belief of the Uighur people.”
Responding on Monday, Ms McDougall claimed China “didn’t quite deny” that re-education programmes are taking place.
“You said that was false, the one million. Well, how many were there? Please tell me,” she asked.
“And what were the laws on which they were detained, the specific provisions?”
China has long been running a “strike hard” campaign in Xinjiang, which it says is a counter-terrorism programme aimed at combating ethnic violence.
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper insisted on Monday the tough security measures had stopped Xinjiang from turning into “China’s Syria” or “China’s Libya”.
However, Human Rights Watch has claimed the programme “is in practice far broader, and encompasses anyone suspected of political disloyalty, which in Xinjiang could mean any Uighur, particularly those who express, even peacefully, their religious or cultural identity”.
Muslims face regulations banning beards and veils as well as the distribution of unauthorised Korans.
China’s constitution guarantees the freedom of religious worship but the ruling Communist Party is officially atheist and keeps tight restrictions on religious activities.
Officials in Weizhou, in China’s northern Ningxia region, delayed the demolition of an £11m mosque after thousands demonstrated to stop its destruction.
The word “mosque” was reportedly banned on Chinese social media at the weekend, while internet and 4G mobile phone service was said to have been cut off from the local area in an apparent bid to stop the sharing of videos.
It is well known that Hillary Clinton mentioned putting her political opponents in indoctrination camps back in March, 2015 while on the campaign trail, so it’s no surprise that the Chinese are doing it, given that both love Communism.
Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.
When Bekali, a Kazakh Muslim, refused to follow orders each day, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.
“The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp to ABC News. “I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can’t sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”
Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese — and even foreign citizens — in mass internment camps. This detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a U.S. commission on China last month said is “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”
Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.
The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.
The recollections of Bekali, a heavyset and quiet 42-year-old, offer what appears to be the most detailed account yet of life inside so-called re-education camps. The Associated Press also conducted rare interviews with three other former internees and a former instructor in other centers who corroborated Bekali’s depiction. Most spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their families in China.
The detention program is a hallmark of China’s emboldened state security apparatus under the deeply nationalistic, hard-line rule of President Xi Jinping. It is partly rooted in the ancient Chinese belief in transformation through education — taken once before to terrifying extremes during the mass thought reform campaigns of Mao Zedong, the Chinese leader sometimes channeled by Xi.
“Cultural cleansing is Beijing’s attempt to find a final solution to the Xinjiang problem,” said James Millward, a China historian at Georgetown University.
Rian Thum, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, said China’s re-education system echoes some of the worst human rights violations in history.
“The closest analogue is maybe the Cultural Revolution in that this will leave long-term, psychological effects,” Thum said. “This will create a multigenerational trauma from which many people will never recover.”
Asked to comment on the indoctrination camps, China’s Foreign Ministry said it “had not heard” of the situation. When asked why non-Chinese had been detained, it said the Chinese government protects the rights of foreigners in China and they should also be law-abiding. Chinese officials in Xinjiang did not respond to requests for comment.
However, bits and pieces from state media and journals show the confidence Xinjiang officials hold in indoctrination methods that they say work well to curb religious extremism. China’s top prosecutor, Zhang Jun, urged Xinjiang’s authorities this month to extensively expand what the government calls the “transformation through education” drive in an “all-out effort” to fight separatism and extremism.
In a June 2017 paper published by a state-run journal, a researcher from Xinjiang’s Communist Party School reported that most of 588 surveyed participants did not know what they had done wrong when they were sent to re-education. But by the time they were released, nearly all — 98.8 percent— had learned their mistakes, the paper said.
Transformation through education, the researcher concluded, “is a permanent cure.”
So while you may think that Muslims need to be reeducated, the facts are clear as seen in the video above. America’s Communist-Democrats would jump at the chance to force patriotic Americans into camps to “correct” their love of the United States, and don’t let them ever convince you otherwise.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 14th, 2018