The Chinese government is cracking down on the Muslim Uighur community, locking up thousands in its ‘re-education camps’ (the western media calls it internment camps) in the western region of Xinjiang.
China maintains that these camps are in fact ‘special vocational schools’ which combat terrorism and religious extremism. Moreover, an ‘anti-halal campaign’ has been launched.
Besides being pressured to denounce their religion, being forced to attend Chinese language classes, repeat slogans praising the Chinese leader and the communist party, the Muslim Uighur are being forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Sources say that new laws might force them to replace the halal products and food with non-halal. This part of China’s efforts to stop Islam from penetrating ‘secular life’ and increasing ‘extremism’. Beijing is trying to suppress the minority Muslim Uighur, similarly to Myanmar’s attempts with the Rohingya Muslims but much worst per se.
Who are the Uighurs?
The Uighurs live in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. They are culturally and ethnically close to the Central Asian nations. They have their own language – Asian Turkic which is similar to Uzbek. The Uighur community practices a moderate form of Sunni Islam.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the Uighur people are subjected to intense surveillance and are made to give DNA and biometric samples. Those with relatives in 26 ‘sensitive’ countries have reportedly been rounded up, and presently about a million or so have been detained.
China in Denial
The United Nations panel recently cited credible reports from the detainment region of China’s atrocities. But the Chinese UN delegate Hu Lianhe dismissed the reports as ‘completely untrue’. But he acknowledged that the government determined some Uighurs be deceived by religious extremism ‘have been assisted through resettlement and education’. In other words, China itself has stated that the findings are indeed true. The Uighurs are being detained and indoctrinated.
According to a James Millward, a Professor of Chinese History at Georgetown University ‘religious belief is seen as a pathology’ in China. “Beijing often claims religion fuels extremism and separatism. So now they are calling re-education camps ‘hospitals’ meant to cure thinking. It’s like an inoculation, a search-and-destroy medical procedure that they want to apply to the whole Uighur population, to kill the germs of extremism.”
Furthermore, China has for long feared that the Uighurs will attempt to establish their own national homeland in Xinjiang. This is similar to their Tibet fear. China’s ruling party – ‘the Chinese Communist Party’ has no tolerance for dissent from ethnic minorities.