More than a million people, for no reason other than their ethnicity or religion, are held in concentration camps in what Beijing calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and what traditional inhabitants of the area, the Uighurs, say is East Turkestan. In addition to Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs are also held in these facilities.
Families in this troubled area, shown on maps as the northwestern portion of the People’s Republic of China, are being torn apart. The children of imprisoned Uighur and Kazakh parents are “confined” to “schools” that are separated from the outside by barbed wire and heavy police patrols. They are denied instruction in their own language, forced to learn Mandarin Chinese. The controls are part of a so-called “Hanification” policy, a program of forced assimilation. “Han” is the name of China’s dominant ethnic group.
Because Uighurs and Kazakhs are dying in the camps in considerable numbers, Beijing is building crematoria to eradicate burial traditions while disposing of corpses.
More than a million people, for no reason other than their ethnicity or religion, are held in concentration camps in what Beijing calls the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Picture: Chinese police clash with ethnic Uighur women during a protest in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, on July 7, 2009. (Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images)
The camps, a crime against humanity, are spreading. China is now building similar facilities, given various euphemistic names such as “vocational training centers,” in Tibet, in China’s southwest.
At the same time, Beijing is renewing its attempt to eliminate religion country-wide. Christians have come under even greater attack across China, as have Buddhists. China’s ruler, Xi Jinping, demands that the five recognized religions — official recognition is a control mechanism — “Sinicize.” The Chinese, as a part of this ruthless and relentless effort, are destroying mosques and churches, forcing devout Muslims to drink alcohol and eat pork, inserting Han officials to live in Muslim homes, and ending religious instruction for minors.
These attempts, which have antecedents in Chinese history, have been intensified since Xi became the Communist Party’s general secretary in November 2012.