The Chinese government is engaged in systematic persecution of its Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim populations. Its goal appears to be the complete eradication of minority Muslim cultural and religious traditions. The campaign is horrific, including prison camps, torture, rape, forced sterilizations, forced renunciations of faith, and forced labor. Many ethnic-minority Muslims who are not imprisoned are subjected to comprehensive surveillance and family separations. The government has also destroyed thousands of Muslim religious sites, including mosques and cemeteries, primarily in the western part of China, where most of its Muslim population lives.
The Chinese government has detained a million or more Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in up to 85 camps, where prisoners are being held indefinitely and without judicial process. Reportedly many in these prisons have been subjected to “severe physical abuse” as well as psychological mistreatment. Following the publication of satellite pictures in which some of the large camps are readily visible, the Chinese government has acknowledged the camps’ existence. It says that they are for “re-education” and “washing brains.” This is thought to be the largest mass detention of an ethnic group since the Holocaust.
Many Uyghurs and members of other Turkic Muslim minorities who are not imprisoned are reportedly subject to removal from their homes to factories around China. There they manufacture products for international companies, live in confined housing, are closely monitored, and are required to participate in government-led political training. Others who remain in their homes face comprehensive surveillance. In some cases, Han Chinese government agents have moved into Uyghur Muslim homes to monitor the families’ religious practices and other aspects of their daily life. The government has removed some Muslim minority children from their families and sent them to boarding schools, where they are trained to abandon their ethnic and religious traditions and adopt government-supported ideas.
The Chinese government claims that it is merely trying to eliminate political extremism and alleviate poverty. The United States government rejects this account. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 passed Congress nearly unanimously in May 2020 and was signed into law on June 17, 2020. The law condemns “gross human rights violations of ethnic Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang” and calls for “an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities inside and outside China.” It urges U.S. companies and individuals operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Area to ensure that their commercial activities do not contribute to human rights violations. The Biden administration has recently imposed sanctions on two Chinese officials directly involved in the oppression. But much more needs to be done.
Never again means never again for all people.
You can help by:
1) signing the petition of the Council on American-Islamic Relations urging Congress to pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act;
2) signing the Change.org petition urging the International Olympic Committee to require China to close the camps in Xinjiang as a condition of hosting Olympic Games in 2022; and
3) signing the Change.org petition for the immediate release of Uyghur Scholars imprisoned by the Chinese government.