The Uighur Persecution

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The Uighur Persecution

Ethan Ramchandani, Writer

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Xi Jinping has been perpetuating Mao Zedong’s “war on religion” started half a century ago. Jinping fears all religions challenge the legitimacy of the CCP. While this targets every creed, leaked documents from the CCP to major news outlets in the United States outline the harassment that the party enacts on believers. Among other things, Jinping’s administration has been burning holy texts, rewriting parts of the Bible, and banning religious expression for minors. However, none of these compare to the plights of the Uighur and other Muslims in the country.

Xi’s distaste for religious life can be traced back to 2015 when he encouraged religious life not to interfere with secular life. This includes forbidding Muslim daycares, Mosques, and other religious institutions or organizations from teaching the faith in an effort to prevent it from spreading. Further than that, the government has restricted the display of Arab characters in general, opting to replace them with Mandarin symbols. Stores that prepare meat to Muslim standards are not allowed to have the word “Halal” on the storefront. With the mass closing or destruction of mosques, believers are being forced to worship in government made mosques that proudly display the Chinese flag more than any other religious symbol. Xi’s administration is only second to Mao Zedong in the oppression of the Muslim faith.

Documents confirmed about one million Uighur Muslims have been arrested, but there is reason to believe that the number may be up to three million. Chinese officials have stated that these camps are not punishment, but rather a preventative effort for future terrorism. The biggest problem with this excuse is that there has not been a major terrorist attack in the area for years now. These ‘re-education’ camps are just arbitrary imprisonment and torture.

NBC was given access to three of these facilities, where they found barely furnished dorms and barren classrooms. The re-education of the “students” entails shopkeep- ing, animal husbandry, e-commerce, and other subjects in that vein. Among more serious things, watching an illegal religious video or wearing religious clothing (more specifically, Muslim religious clothing) can warrant time in these camps. To end a term, the ‘prisoners’ must pass exams to prove their ‘de-radicalization’ which just means denouncing their religion, heritage, and identity. Accounts from people who have had family members detained reveal that contact in and out of the camps is restricted.

Some who have managed to escape these persecutions have detailed abuse by those in charge of the ‘re-education’ camps making what was revealed to NBC to be a sort of front. One woman testified in front of US politicians that she had been detained a total of three times. Each of those three times, Chinese officials had her in an electric chair, singing songs praising China, and renouncing her faith as second to the CCP.

In between arrests, she had been blacklisted, and her documents had been seized. “Police would check my card and approve every step I take,” she recounted as she spoke about the black dot on her ID card that went off every time she tried to use a pharmacy, hospital, or even bus. The conditions of her detainment, according to her testimony, were deplorable. She saw nine women alone die during her time there.

China has not only been persecuting Muslims, but spiritual practitioners of a meditation called Falun Gong. They receive the same treatment as their Muslim prisoners’ counterparts and have been the subject of multiple hidden cam videos of their awful conditions. Many are overweight and dying due to torture, yet the party covers it up by claim- ing these deaths were natural. These practitioners are being persecuted for the same reasons that the Muslims are. The CCP sees its organization as a threat to the government’s power.

As media coverage slowly grows, people online and on social media are beginning to compare China’s treatment of the Muslim population to Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jewish population, with most going as far as to call this a second Holocaust. A picture of a starving prisoner in one of these camps got leaked by his family member and is now circulating the internet. This picture has sparked a lot of online buzz and inciting the anger of the public.

The international community recently responded as the issue finally was discussed at the UN. However, the decision was split. Fifty-four countries, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, defended China’s imprisonment of Uighur Muslims far outnumbering the 23 condemnations from countries like the USA, Britain, France, Germany, and Sweden. Belarus went so far as to call the accusations against China as baseless due to a lack of evidence. China herself defended the camps by citing they have been beneficial to the region.

The majority support in the UN likely stems from the fact that China is a financial beneficiary of many Eurasian and African countries. China is responsible for funding the infrastructure and thus facilitating the growth of these nations. In a sense, China is likely buying these countries off.

The persecutions in China are tragic and have been sparking protests across America as people try to make the government aware of these atrocities. They want to discover a way to help the people who have been harmed by these despicable camps, but find that the US government is not doing enough to solve the problem. One can only hope that the governments around the world, including the USA, will step in and that we will see a swift end to the suffering of Muslims and Falun Gong practitioners in China.