The Chinese government is reportedly holding tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslims, including some foreign citizens, in mass “internment camps” where they are brainwashed and forced to give up their identity.
The camps, which are dubbed “re-education” centers when they are on rare occasion discussed by Chinese authorities, are used to torture Muslims in hopes that they will forsake their religion and family. The detainees are forced to go without food, disavow their beliefs, criticize themselves and those they love, and even give thanks to the ruling Communist Party.
The Associated Press report focuses on Omir Bekali, a Muslim from Kazakhstan who was apparently seized by China’s security agencies and detained for several months.
“The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking — your own ethnic group,” said Bekali, who broke down in tears as he described the camp. “I still think about it every night, until the sun rises. I can’t sleep. The thoughts are with me all the time.”
Since last spring, Chinese authorities in the heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese — and even foreign citizens — in mass internment camps. This detention campaign has swept across Xinjiang, a territory half the area of India, leading to what a U.S. commission on China last month said is “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”
This is something we should all be aware of, yet there’s little-to-no news coverage describing the horrors that these people are forced to go through. The main reason for that is that everyone has remained quiet about the camps, only vaguely justifying the actions by saying they will prevent extremism.
I’m sorry to break it to you, Chinese government, but your actions on this meet the very definition of extremism.
Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.
The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.
This behavior has no place in the 21st century. This is how dangerous cults treat their followers – it shouldn’t be how governments treat their people.
With as many as one million people being held against their will in these camps, and the government touting it as “re-education” and a “permanent cure” to extremism, it’s time to put this to an end. It has been kept quiet for too long, and now is when the world should speak out.