Listen Up! Muslims in China are being Mistreated
By Ava Kaminski
There have been leaked documents, photos, and witnesses talking about re-education camps located in northwestern Xinjiang, China. Chinese officials have repeatedly said that these camps are voluntary education and training camps. Leaked documents originally brought to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has evidence that contradicts the Chinese government’s claims about the camps. Those in the camps learn the Chinese language, cultures, and traditions and are stripped of other cultural backgrounds. Comparatively, these camps seem similar to America’s Native American schools in the 1900s, where they stripped natives of their own culture to assimilate them into mainstream American culture.
Due to advances in technology and the presence of satellites in space, new buildings are not always secret. Satellite images taken by Google Earth Pro in March of 2017 show an area full of fields, most likely where crops are being grown. In July of 2017, there were designated buildings, and by November of that year, there was a complete camp. The camps were then surrounded by a large wall, watchtowers, and other security measures.
Those imprisoned in these camps mainly comprise Uyghur, a Turkic native group that originates from Central and East Asia. Chinese government defines the group as an ethnic minority and not an indigenous population. Most of the population currently reside in the Xinjiang state of China, where the camps are located. Many Uyghurs are practicing Sunni Muslims, although they vary in religious practices, and from the Hui Muslims also in the Xinjiang region.
As stated before, Chinese officials have described these camps as a volunteer-based concentration, where people can learn vocational trades and get an education. Testimonies of many survivors relay a completely opposite message. They were subject to inadequate health care, personal hygiene, and were forced to eat pork, which in the Islamic religion is considered Haram, or forbidden. A former teacher, Sayragul Sauytbay, has exposed the government through her personal testimony of how prisoners were treated in the camps. When she initially fled China into Kazakhstan, she was captured by authorities and considered for deportation. "I'm a living witness of these concentration camps. That's why China wants so badly to either get me back or to kill me," Sauytbay said in testimony to a judge in order to stay in the country, originally reported by CNN. Her fight for asylum continues today as her case heads to the nation's supreme court.
"They would punish inmates for everything," Sauytbay told a Business Insider reporter. "Anyone who didn't follow the rules was punished. Those who didn't learn Chinese properly or who didn't sing the songs were also punished," she said. One common punishment was food deprivation, where prisoners were not fed meals. Those without punishment would receive a ladle of rice porridge with a slice of bread, three times a day. Another form of punishment was medical experimentation on prisoners, with injections and pills being forced onto captives. Quite frequently, women and young girls were raped by guards. In one instance reported by the Business Insider, some guards raped a girl in front of a crowd, and then the non-participating guards watched the reactions from bystanders. If onlookers were shocked, looking away, or disgusted then they would be taken away by other guards. Women who were raped and became pregnant were then forced to have abortions as well.
Although this issue is gaining some public view, it is not being taken seriously by all of the world leaders. If this has been upsetting to you, use your voice, social media and anything else you can think of to spread this knowledge. Contact State Representatives and Senators and tell them that you want action to be taken and that this treatment of people will not stand. Be on the side of humanity, and help make that change.