Xinjiang re-education camps

  (Redirected from Xinjiang concentration camps)

The Xinjiang re-education camps, officially called Vocational Education and Training Centers by the government of the People's Republic of China,[9][10][11] are internment camps that have been operated by the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region government for the purpose of indoctrinating Uyghurs since 2017[3] as part of a "people's war on terror" announced in 2014.[12][13] The camps were established under General Secretary Xi Jinping's administration[13][14] and led by party secretary, Chen Quanguo. These camps are reportedly operated outside the legal system; many Uyghurs have reportedly been interned without trial and no charges have been levied against them.[15][16][17] Local authorities are reportedly holding hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs in these camps as well as other ethnic minority groups, for the stated purpose of countering extremism and terrorism and promoting sinicization.[18][19][20][21][22][23]

Xinjiang re-education camps
Internment camps, indoctrination camps, re-education camps
Xinjiang Re-education Camp Lop County.jpg
Detainees listening to speeches in a camp in Lop County, Xinjiang, April 2017.[1][2]
Other namesVocational Education and Training Centers
LocationXinjiang
Built byCommunist Party of China
Operated byXinjiang government
CommandantChen Quanguo
(party secretary)
OperationalSince 2017[3]
Number of inmatesUp to 1.5 million (2019 Zenz estimate)[4]

1 million – 3 million over several years (2019 Schriver estimate)[5][6]

~497,000 minors in special boarding schools (2017 government document estimate)[7]
Re-education camps
Uyghur name
Uyghurقايتا تەربىيەلەش لاگېرلىرى
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese再教育[8]
Simplified Chinese再教育
Vocational Education and Training Centers
Simplified Chinese职业技能教育培训中心
Traditional Chinese職業技能教育培訓中心

As of 2018, it was estimated that the Chinese authorities may have detained hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic Turkic Muslims, Christians as well as some foreign citizens such as Kazakhstanis, who are being held in these secretive internment camps which are located throughout the region.[24][25][26][27][28][29] In May 2018, Randall Schriver of the United States Department of Defense claimed that "at least a million but likely closer to three million citizens" were imprisoned in detention centers in a strong condemnation of the "concentration camps".[5][6] In August 2018, a United Nations human rights panel said that it had received many credible reports that 1 million ethnic Uyghurs in China have been held in "re-education camps".[30][31] There have also been multiple reports from media[32][33][34][35][36][37], politicians[38][39] and researchers[40][41][42][43][44][45][46] comparing the camps to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

In 2019, the United Nations ambassadors from 22 nations, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom[47][48] signed a letter condemning China's mass detention of the Uyghurs and other minority groups, urging the Chinese government to close the camps.[49][50][51] Conversely, a joint statement was signed by 37 states commending China's counter-terrorism program in Xinjiang, including Algeria, the DR Congo, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Egypt, Nigeria, the Philippines and Sudan.[52][47][53][48][53]

BackgroundEdit

Xinjiang conflictEdit

Various Chinese dynasties have historically exerted control over parts of what is modern-day Xinjiang.[54] The region came under modern Chinese rule as a result of the westward expansion of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, which also conquered Tibet and Mongolia.[55] After the 1928 assassination of Yang Zengxin, the governor of the semi-autonomous Kumul Khanate in east Xinjiang under the Republic of China, Jin Shuren succeeded Yang as governor of the Khanate. On the death of the Kamul Khan Maqsud Shah in 1930, Jin abolished the Khanate entirely and took control of the region as warlord.[56] In 1933, the breakaway First East Turkestan Republic was established in the Kumul Rebellion.[56][57][58] In 1934, the First Turkestan Republic was conquered by warlord Sheng Shicai with the aid of the Soviet Union before Sheng reconciled with the Republic of China in 1942.[59] In 1944, the Ili Rebellion led to the Second East Turkestan Republic with dependency on the Soviet Union for trade, arms, and "tacit consent" for its continued existence before being absorbed into the People's Republic of China in 1949.[60]

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the government sponsored a mass migration of Han Chinese to the region, policies promoting Chinese cultural unity, and policies punishing certain expressions of Uyghur identity.[61][62] During this time, militant Uyghur separatist organizations with potential support from the Soviet Union emerged, with the East Turkestan People's Party being the largest in 1968.[63][64][65] During the 1970s, the Soviets supported the United Revolutionary Front of East Turkestan (URFET) to fight the Chinese.[66]

In 1997, a police roundup and execution of 30 suspected separatists during Ramadan led to large demonstrations in February 1997 that resulted in the Ghulja incident, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) crackdown that led to at least nine deaths.[67] The Ürümqi bus bombings later that month killed nine people and injured 68 with responsibility acknowledged by Uyghur exile groups.[68][57] In March 1997, a bus bomb killed two people with responsibility claimed by Uyghur radicals and the Turkey-based Organisation for East Turkistan Freedom.[69][70][57]

In July 2009, riots broke out in Xinjiang in response to a violent dispute between Uyghur and Han Chinese workers in a factory and result in over one hundred deaths.[71][72] Following the riots, Uyghur radicals killed dozens of Han Chinese in coordinated attacks from 2009 to 2016.[73][74] These included the August 2009 syringe attacks,[75] the 2011 bomb-and-knife attack in Hotan,[76] the March 2014 knife attack in the Kunming railway station,[77] the April 2014 bomb-and-knife attack in the Ürümqi railway station,[78] and the May 2014 car-and-bomb attack in an Ürümqi street market[79] Several of the attacks were orchestrated by the Turkistan Islamic Party (formerly the East Turkestan Islamic Movement) which has been designated a terrorist organization by several countries including Russia,[80] Turkey,[81][82] the United Kingdom,[83] and the United States,[84] in addition to the United Nations.[85]

Strategic motivationsEdit

Some analysts have suggested that Xinjiang is viewed as a key route for China's Belt and Road Initiative and that the ruling Communist Party perceives its local population as a potential threat to the success of the Belt and Road Initiative.[86][87][88]

Policies from 2009 to 2016Edit

 
Number of re-education related government procurement bids in Xinjiang according to the Jamestown Foundation[89]

Both prior to and until shortly after the July 2009 Ürümqi riots, Wang Lequan was the Party secretary for the Xinjiang region, effectively the highest subnational role; roughly equivalent to a governor in a Western province or state. Wang worked on modernization programs in Xinjiang, including industrialization, development of commerce, roads, railways, hydrocarbon development and pipelines with neighboring Kazakhstan to eastern China. On the other hand, Wang constrained local culture and religion, replaced the Uyghur language with Standard Mandarin as the medium of education in primary schools, and penalized or banned among government workers (in a region in which the government was a very large employer), the wearing of beards and headscarves, fasting and praying while on the job.[90][91][92] In the 1990s, many Uyghurs in parts of Xinjiang could not speak Mandarin Chinese.[93]

In April 2010, after the Ürümqi riots, Zhang Chunxian replaced Wang Lequan as the Communist Party chief. Zhang Chunxian continued and strengthened Wang's repressive policies. In 2011, Zhang proposed "modern culture [to the exclusion of Uyghur tradition] leads the development in Xinjiang" as his policy statement and started to implement his modern culture propaganda.[94] In 2012, he first mentioned the phrase "de-extremification" (Chinese: 去极端化) campaigns and started to educate "wild Imams" (野阿訇) and extremists (极端主义者).[95][96][89]

In 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative was announced, a massive trade project at the heart of which is Xinjiang.[97] In 2014, Chinese authorities announced a "People's war on terror" and local government introduced new restrictions and banned "abnormal" long beards, the wearing of veils in public places and naming of children to exaggerate religious fervor (including names such as Muhammad or Fatimah)[98][99][100] as a campaign against terrorism and extremism.[101][102] In 2014, the concept of "transformation through education" began to be used in contexts outside of Falun Gong through the systematic "de-extremification" campaigns.[103] Under Zhang, the Communist Party launched its "Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism" in Xinjiang, leading to many remands, detentions, arrests, and incarcerations.[citation needed]

In August 2016, Chen Quanguo, a well-known hardline Communist Party leader in Tibet,[104] took charge of the Xinjiang autonomous region. Chen was branded as responsible for a major component of Tibet's "subjugation" by critics.[105]

Following Chen's arrival, local authorities recruited over 90,000 police officers in 2016 and 2017 – twice as many as they recruited in the past seven years,[106] and laid out as many as 7300 heavily guarded check points in the region.[107] The province has come to be known as one of the most heavily policed regions of the world. English-language news reports have labelled the current regime in Xinjiang as the most extensive police state in the world.[108][109][110][111]

Sinicization and antireligious campaigns in ChinaEdit

The government of the People's Republic of China officially espouses state atheism,[112] and it has conducted antireligious campaigns in order to accomplish this end.[113] Since 2014, the Chinese Communist Party has shifted its policies in favor of outright sinicization of ethnic and religious minorities.[22] The trend accelerated in 2018 when the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the State Administration for Religious Affairs were placed under the control of the United Front Work Department.[114]

HistoryEdit

Beginning in 2017, local media generally referred to facilities as "counter-extremism training centers" (去极端化培训班) and "education and transformation training centers" (教育转化培训中心). Most of those facilities were converted from existing schools or other official buildings, although some were specifically built for "reeducation" purposes.[3]

The heavily policed region and thousands of check points assisted and accelerated the detention of locals in the camps. In 2017 the region constituted 21% of all arrests in China despite comprising less than 2% of the national population, eight times more than previous year.[108][115] The judicial and other government bureaus of many cities and counties started to release a series of procurement and construction bids for those planned camps and facilities.[89] Increasingly, massive detention centers were built up throughout the region and are being used to hold hundreds of thousands of people targeted for their religious practices and ethnicity.[116][12][117][105][118]

Victor Shih, a political economist at the University of California, San Diego, claimed in July 2019 the mass internments were unnecessary because "no active insurgencies" existed, only "isolated terrorist incidents". He suggested that because a great deal of money was spent setting up the camps, the money likely went to associates of the politicians who created them.[119]

According to the Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye in December 2019, all of the "trainees" in the centers have graduated and have gradually returned to their jobs or found new jobs with government assistance.[120] Cheng also called reports that one million Uyghurs had been detained in Xinjiang "fake news" and that "what has been done in Xinjiang has no ... difference with what the other countries, including western countries, [do] to fight against terrorists."[120][121]

New York Times and ICIJ leaksEdit

On 16 November 2019, The New York Times released an extensive leak of 400 pages of documents, sourced from a member of the Chinese government hoping that Xi Jinping is held accountable for his actions. The New York Times stated that the leak suggests discontent inside the Communist Party relating to the crackdown in Xinjiang. The anonymous government official who leaked the documents did so with the intent that the disclosure "would prevent party leaders, including Mr. Xi, from escaping culpability for the mass detentions".[13]

We must be as harsh as them and show absolutely no mercy. — Xi Jinping on the terror attacks in 2014, (translated from Mandarin Chinese)[13]

One document was a manual aimed at communicating messages to Uyghur students who were returning home and would ask about their missing friends or relatives who had been interned in the camps. It said that government staff should acknowledge that the internees had not committed a crime and that "It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts."[13][122]

The New York Times stated that speeches obtained show how Xi views risks to the party similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which The New York Times stated Xi "blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership."[13] Concerned that violence in the Xinjiang region could damage social stability in the rest of China, Xi stated "social stability will suffer shocks, the general unity of people of every ethnicity will be damaged, and the broad outlook for reform, development and stability will be affected."[13] Xi encouraged officials to study how the US responded following the September 11 attacks.[13]

The China Daily reported in 2018 that communist party official Wang Yongzhi was removed for "serious disciplinary violations."[13][123] The New York Times obtained a copy of Wang's confession (which the report noted was likely signed under duress) and stated that The New York Times believed he was sacked for being too lenient on Uyghurs, for example his release of 7000 detainees. Wang had told his superiors that he was concerned that the actions against the Uyghurs would breed discontent and thus result in greater violence in the future. The leaked documents stated, "he ignored the party central leadership's strategy for Xinjiang, and he went as far as brazen defiance...He refused, to round up everyone who should be rounded up".[13] The article was discreetly shared on the Chinese platform Sina Weibo, where some netizens expressed sympathy for him.[124][122] In 2017, there were more than 12,000 investigations into party members in Xinjiang for infractions or resistance in the "fight against separatism", which was more than 20 times the figure in the previous year.[13]

On 24 November 2019, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the China Cables, consisting of six documents, an "operations manual" for running the camps and detailed use of predictive policing and artificial intelligence to target people and regulate life inside the camps.[125][126]

Shortly after the publication of the China Cables, leaker Asiye Abdulaheb went on to provide Adrian Zenz with the "Karakax list", allegedly a Chinese government spreadsheet that tracks the rationale behind 311 of the internments at a "Vocational Training Internment Camp" in the seat of Karakax County in Xinjiang.[127] The purpose of the list may have been to coordinate judgments on whether an individual should remain in internment; in some entries, the word "agree" was written beside a judgment.[128] Records detail how subjects dress and pray, and how their relatives and acquaintances behave. One subject was interned because she wore a veil years ago; another was interned for clicking on a link to a foreign website; a third was interned for applying for a passport, despite posing "no practical risk" according to the spreadsheet. In general, the subjects on the Karakax list all have relatives living abroad, a category that reportedly leads to "almost certain internment". 149 subjects are documented as violating birth control policies. 116 of the subjects are listed without explanation as "untrustworthy"; for 88 of these, this "untrustworthy" label is the only reason listed for internment. Younger men, in particular, are often listed as "untrustworthy person born in a certain decade". 24 subjects are accused of formal crimes, including six terrorism-related allegations. Most of the subjects have been released, or scheduled for release, following the end of their one-year internment term; however, some of these are recommended for release into "industrial park employment", raising concerns about possible forced labor.[129][130]

Camp facilitiesEdit

In urban areas, most of the camps are converted from existing vocational schools, communist party schools, ordinary schools or other official buildings, while in suburban or rural areas the majority of camps were specially built for the purposes of re-education.[131] These camps are guarded by armed forces or special police and equipped with prison-like gates, surrounding walls, security fences, surveillance systems, watchtowers, guard rooms and facilities for armed police etc.[132][133][134][135]

In November and December 2018, the magazine Bitter Winter released three videos it claimed had been shot inside two camps in the Yining area. The videos show jail-like features and the magazine claimed they proved that the camps are detention facilities rather than "schools".[136][137][138] According to Business Insider, the second "Bitter Winter’s video... matches the descriptions of former detainees and witnesses of other detention facilities in Xinjiang."[139]

While there is no public, verifiable data for the number of camps, there have been various attempts to document suspected camps based on satellite imagery and government documents. On 15 May 2017, Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based institute, released a list of 73 government bids related to re-education facilities.[89] On 1 November 2018, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's (ASPI) International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) reported on suspected camps in 28 locations.[140] On 29 November 2018, Reuters and Earthrise Media reported 39 suspected camps.[141] The East Turkistan National Awakening Movement has reported larger numbers of camps.[142][143]

Boarding schools for children of detaineesEdit

The detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities has left many children without their parents. The Chinese government has held these children at a variety of institutions and schools colloquially known as "boarding schools", although not all are residential institutions, that serve as de facto orphanages.[144][145][146] In September 2018, The Associated Press reported that thousands of boarding schools were being built.[145] According to the Chinese Department of Education children as young as eight are enrolled in these schools.[147]

According to Adrian Zenz and BBC in 2019, children of detained parents in boarding schools have been forced to learn Mandarin Chinese and prevented from exercising their religion.[148][149][150][151] In a paper published in the Journal of Political Risk, Zenz calls the effort a "systematic campaign of social re-engineering and cultural genocide."[152] Human Rights Watch has claimed that the children detained at child welfare facilities and boarding schools are held without parental consent or access.[153][154] In December 2019 The New York Times reported that approximately 497,000 elementary and junior high school students were enrolled in these boarding schools. They also reported that students are only allowed to see family members once every two weeks and that they were forbidden from speaking the Uyghur language.[147]

Camp detaineesEdit

BackgroundEdit

Many media reports said that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, as well as Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other ethnic minorities,[155][156][157] are being detained without trial in "re-education camps" in the province.[citation needed] Radio Free Asia, a site funded by the US government, estimated in January 2018 that 120,000 members of the Uyghurs are currently being held in political re-education camps in Kashgar prefecture alone.[158] In 2018, local government authorities in Qira County expected to have almost 12,000 detainees in vocational camps and detention centres and some projects related to the centres outstripped budgetary limits.[159]

Uyghur politician Rebiya Kadeer, who has been in exile since 2005, has had as many as 30 relatives detained or disappeared, including her sisters, brothers, children, grandchildren, and siblings.[160][161] It is unclear when they were taken away.[162][163]

According to his brother, in February 2018, Ablajan Awut Ayup, a Uyghur rapper, was detained and sent to a re-education camp.[164][165][166]

On 13 July 2018, Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national and former employee of the Chinese state, appeared in a court in the city of Zharkent, Kazakhstan for being accused of illegally crossing the border between the two countries. During the trial she talked about her forced work at a re-education camp for 2,500 ethnic Kazakhs.[167][168] Her lawyer believed that if she is extradited to China, she would face the death penalty for exposing re-education camps in Kazakh court.[169][168] Her testimony for the re-education camps have become the focus of a court case in Kazakhstan,[170] which is also testing the country's ties with Beijing.[171][172] On 1 August 2018, Sayragul Sauytbay, who fled one of the Chinese re-education camps, was released with a six-month suspended sentence and direction to regularly check in with police. She applied for asylum in Kazakhstan to avoid being deported to China.[173][174][175] Kazakhstan refused to grant her asylum. On 2 June 2019 she flew to Sweden where she was then given political asylum.[176][177]

Gene Bunin created the Xinjiang Victims Database[178] to collect public testimonies on people detained in the camps. Each page lists basic demographic information including dates and suspected cause of detention, location, in addition to supplementary videos, photos and documents.

Writing in the Journal of Political Risk in July 2019, independent researcher Adrian Zenz estimated an upper speculative limit to the number of people detained in Xinjiang re-education camps at 1.5 million.[4] In November 2019, Adrian Zenz estimated that the number of internment camps in Xinjiang had surpassed 1,000.[179] In November 2019, George Friedman estimated that 1 in 10 Uyghurs are being detained in re-education camps.[180]

TreatmentEdit

In January 2018, Abdurahman Hasan, a Uyghur businessman from Kashgar, was interviewed by BBC News in Turkey and rhetorically asked the reporters to shoot his 68-year-old mother and 22-year-old wife after talking of the abuse conducted in one of the camps in Kashgar.[109] Kayrat Samarkand, a Kazakh citizen who migrated from Xinjiang, was detained in one of the re-education camps in the region for three months for visiting neighboring Kazakhstan. On 15 February 2018, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the same day as Kayrat Samarkand was freed from custody.[181] After his release, Samarkand claimed that he faced endless brainwashing and humiliation, and that he was forced to study communist propaganda for hours every day and chant slogans giving thanks and wishing for a long life to Xi Jinping, current General Secretary of the Communist Party of China.[182]

Mihrigul Tursun, an Uyghur woman detained in China, after escaping one of these camps, talked of alleged beatings and torture. After moving to Egypt, she traveled to China in 2015 to spend time with her family and was immediately detained and separated from her infant children. When Tursun was released three months later, one of the triplets had died and the other two had developed health problems. Tursun said the children had been operated on. She was arrested for a second time about two years later. Several months later, she was detained a third time and spent three months in a cramped prison cell with 60 other women, having to sleep in turns, use the toilet in front of security cameras and sing songs praising China’s Communist Party.

Tursun said she and other inmates were forced to take unknown medication, including pills that made them faint and a white liquid that caused bleeding in some women and loss of menstruation in others. Tursun said nine women from her cell died during her three months there. One day, Tursun recalled, she was led into a room and placed in a high chair, and her legs and arms were locked in place. "The authorities put a helmet-like thing on my head, and each time I was electrocuted, my whole body would shake violently and I would feel the pain in my veins," Tursun said in a statement read by a translator. "I don’t remember the rest. White foam came out of my mouth, and I began to lose consciousness," Tursun said. "The last word I heard them saying is that you being an Uyghur is a crime." She was eventually released so that she could take her children to Egypt, but she was ordered to return to China. Once in Cairo, Tursun contacted U.S. authorities and, in September, came to the United States and settled in Virginia.[183]

Some detainees reportedly endure physical and mental torture to suppress dissident religious beliefs and separatist movements. Former inmates claim that they are "forced to study communist propaganda for hours and give thanks to the general secretary (paramount leader) by chanting 'Long live Xi Jinping'",[184] as well as learn to sing the national anthem of China and communist songs. Punishments, like being placed in handcuffs for hours, waterboarding, or being strapped to "tiger chair" (a metal contraption) for long periods of time, are allegedly used on those who fail to follow.[185][186]

According to detainees, they were also forced to drink alcohol and eat pork, which are forbidden in Islam.[29][185][184] Some reportedly received unknown medicines while others attempted suicide.[187] There have also been deaths reported due to unspecified causes.[188][189][190][191][192][193][194][195] Detainees have alleged widespread sexual torture, including forced abortions, forced use of contraceptive devices, compulsory sterilization, and rape.[196] It has been reported that Han officials have been assigned to reside in the homes of Uyghurs who are in the camps.[197][198] Rushan Abbas of the Campaign for Uyghurs claims that the actions of the Chinese government amount to genocide according to United Nations definitions which are laid out in the Genocide Convention.[199]

According to Time, Sarsenbek Akaruli, 45, a veterinarian and trader from Ili, Xinjiang, was arrested in Xinjiang on 2 November 2017. As of November 2019, he is still in a detention camp. According to his wife Gulnur Kosdaulet, Akaruli was put in the camp after police found the banned messaging app WhatsApp on his cell phone. Kosdaulet, a citizen of neighboring Kazakhstan, has traveled to Xinjiang on four occasions to search for her husband but could not get help from friends in the Communist Party of China. Kosdaulet said of her friends, "Nobody wanted to risk being recorded on security cameras talking to me in case they ended up in the camps themselves."[200]

According to Time, former prisoner Bakitali Nur, 47, native of Khorgos, Xinjiang on the Sino-Kazakh border, was arrested because authorities were suspicious of his frequent trips abroad. He reported spending a year in a cell with seven other prisoners. The prisoners sat on stools seventeen hours a day, were not allowed to talk or move and were under constant surveillance. Movement carried the punishment of being put into stress positions for hours. After release, he was forced to make daily self-criticisms, report on his plans and work for negligible payment in government factories. In May 2019, he escaped to Kazakhstan. Nur summarized his experience in jail and under constant monitoring after his release saying, "The entire system is designed to suppress us."[200]

According to Radio Free Asia, Ghalipjan, a 35 year old Uyghur man from Shanshan/Pichan County who was married and had a five-year old son, died in a re-education camp on 21 August 2018. Authorities reported his death was due to heart attack, but the head of the Ayagh neighborhood committee said that he was beaten to death by a police officer. His family was not allowed to carry out Islamic funeral rites.[201]

According to a 2018 report in the New York Times, Abdusalam Muhemet, 41, who ran a restaurant in Hotan before fleeing China in 2018, said he spent seven months in prison and more than two months in a camp in Hotan in 2015 without ever being criminally charged. Muhemet said that on most days, the inmates at the camp would assemble to hear long lectures by officials who warned them not to embrace Islamic radicalism, support Uyghur independence or defy the Communist Party.[202]

Forced laborEdit

Scholar Adrian Zenz and others have reported that the re-education camps also function as forced labor camps in which Uyghurs and Kazakhs produce various products for export, especially those made from cotton grown in Xinjiang.[203][204][205][206]

In 2018, the Financial Times reported that the Yutian / Keriya county vocational training centre, among the largest of the Xinjiang re-education camps, had opened a forced labour facility including eight factories spanning shoemaking, mobile phone assembly and tea packaging, giving a base monthly salary of ¥1,500 ($220). Between 2016 and 2018, the centre expanded 269 percent in total area.[207]

Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories, a company first registered at the Lop County Beijing Industrial Park (洛浦县北京工业园区) in 2018, employed 5,000 new workers in its first year of business, making 159 international shipments. The Lop County Beijing Industrial Park has been associated with re-education camp photographs.[208]

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute reported that from 2017-19 more than 80,000 Uighurs were shipped elsewhere in China for factory jobs that "strongly suggest forced labour".[209]

International reactionsEdit

Reactions by other countriesEdit

On 8 July 2019, 22 countries signed a statement to the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights in which they called for an end to mass detentions in China and expressed concerns over widespread surveillance and repression.[47][210]

In July 2019, 37 countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Sudan, Angola, Algeria, Nigeria, DR Congo, North Korea, Serbia, Russia, Venezuela, Philippines, Myanmar, Pakistan and Syria signed a joint letter to the UNHRC commending China's "remarkable achievements in the field of human rights", claiming "Now safety and security has returned to Xinjiang and the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded." Ultimately 50 countries including Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Djibouti and Palestine signed the letter.[211][52][212]

In October 2019, 23 countries including United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Japan, Australia and United States signed a joint letter to the UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly's Third Committee urging China to close the camps in Xinjiang.[48]

In November 2019, the Belorussian representative to the U.N. read a statement from 54 countries which they said were in support of China's Xinjiang policies. The statement named Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Egypt, Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Serbia by name but did not include the names of the other nations it was read on behalf of.[213][214][215]

Signatories of the July 2019 HRC statementEdit

Position Quantity States
Against 22 (per 8 July letter) Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom[51][216]
Support
50 (per 12 July letter) Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Laos, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe[52]
Withdrawn support 1 Qatar[216]

Other reactions by countryEdit

  Australia

  • In September 2019, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated, "I have previously raised Australia's concerns about reports of mass detentions of Uyghurs and other Muslim peoples in Xinjiang. We have consistently called for China to cease the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and other Muslim groups. We have raised these concerns — and we will continue to raise them — both bilaterally and in relevant international meetings."[217]

  Bahrain

  • In January 2020, the Bahrain Council of Representatives called on the international community to protect Uyghur Muslims in China and "expressed deep concern over the inhumane and painful conditions to which Uyghur Muslims in China are subjected, including the detention of more than one million Muslims in mass detention camps, denial of their most basic rights, the removal of their children, wives and families, their prevention of prayer, worship and religious practices, confronting murder, ill-treatment and torture."[218]

  France

The French authorities are examining very carefully all of the testimonies and documents disseminated by the press over the past several days, indicating the existence of a system of internment camps in Xinjiang and a widespread policy of repression in this region.
As we have publicly indicated on several occasions, as have our European partners, notably at the UN, within the framework of the most recent UN Human Rights Council sessions, we call on the Chinese authorities to put an end to mass arbitrary detentions in camps and to invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit Xinjiang as soon possible to assess the situation in this region.[220]

  Gambia

  • On 12 September 2019, Ma Jianchun (马建春), the Chinese ambassador to The Gambia, met Dembo Bojang, the Special Advisor on Religious and Traditional Affairs of The Gambian president. Bojang emphasized that terrorism, separatism, and extremism are public enemies of human society. Chinese government's policy on Xinjiang is based on its own domestic and local realities, and got positive results, won the support of the people. It should and will certainly receive widespread support from the international community.[221]

  Japan

  Kazakhstan

 
NPR reported that "Kazakhstan and its neighbors in the mostly Muslim region of Central Asia that have benefited from Chinese investment aren't speaking up for the Muslims inside internment camps in China".[224]
  • In November 2017, Kazakhstan's Ambassador to China Shahrat Nuryshev met with Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Huilai regarding Kazakh diaspora issues.[225]
  • On 15 February 2018, Kazakh Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov sent a diplomatic note to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the same day Samarkand, a Kazakhstan citizen, was released from re-education camp. From 17 to 19 April, Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi visited Xinjiang to meet with local officials.[181]

  New Zealand

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has raised the issue of the Uyghurs on numerous occasions,[226] including in her 2019 meeting with President Xi Jinping. She did not detail exactly what was said. In July 2019, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters, asked why New Zealand had signed the letter to the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council criticizing Beijing for its treatment of ethnic Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region stated, "Because we believe in human rights, we believe in freedom and we believe in the liberty of personal beliefs and the right to hold them."[227]

  Pakistan

  • On 19 January 2020, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked why he was not more outspoken about the situation of Uyghurs in China. He said that he has not been as outspoken about the Uyghurs primarily because the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Citizenship Amendment Act protests were problems much larger in scale. He said that the second reason was that China has been a great friend of Pakistan and had helped Pakistan through their toughest time with the economic crisis, so that "the way we deal with China is that when we talk about things, we talk about privately. We do not talk about things with China in public right now because they are very sensitive. That's how they deal with issues."[228]

  Russia

  • On 4 February 2019, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he was not aware of reports about political re-education camps in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, though he had seen the US actively raising the issue.[229]
  • In July, Russia signed the letter supporting China.[47][53]
  • On 9 October 2019, Lavrov said that "China has repeatedly given explanations concerning the accusations that you have mentioned probably citing our Western colleagues. We have no reason to take any steps other than the procedures that exist at the UN that I mentioned, such as at the Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Reviews."[230][231]

  Saudi Arabia

 
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman defended China’s re-education camps.[232]

  Senegal

  • On 13 December 2019, Ma Jianchun (马建春), the Chinese ambassador to The Gambia, met with the Senegalese ambassador to The Gambia, Bachirou Sene. Ma introduced the Chinese government's political standing, as well as the de-extremification and anti-terrorism measures being taken in Xinjiang. Sene has expressed understanding and support for the de-extremification and anti-terrorism actions taken by the Chinese government.[236]

   Switzerland

  • On 6 November 2018 during the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review of China, Switzerland called on China to close down its detention camps in Xinjiang, to grant the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights unrestricted access to Xinjiang, and to allow an independent UN investigation of the detention camps.[237]
  • On 26 November 2019, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs called on the Chinese government to address the concerns raised by many states and to allow the UN unhindered access to the region.[237][238]

  Syria

  • In December 2019, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has defended China's actions in Xinjiang days after the US condemnation, stating that it is a “blatant interference by the US in the internal affairs of the People’s Republic of China.” The statement concluded that “Syria emphasizes the right of China to preserve its sovereignty, people, territorial integrity, and security and protect the security and property of the state and individuals.”[239]

  Taiwan

  • On 2 October 2018 the Taiwan (ROC) Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu used the MOFA's official Twitter to send out a Radio Free Asia article titled "Xinjiang Authorities Secretly Transferring Uyghur Detainees to Jails Throughout China" and stated that, "relocation of Uyghurs to re-education camps around China warrants the world's attention."[240]
  • On 5 July 2019, Joseph Wu used the MOFA's official Twitter to send out a BBC News article titled "China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from families" and called on China to "Close the camps! Send the children home!"[241]
  • On 18 November 2019, the MOFA's official twitter sent out the New York Times article titled "‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims" saying, "This chilling NYTimes expose on the mass detention of Muslims by China is a must-read! Leaked internal documents tell the truth about the crackdown on ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, as well as the "ruthless & extraordinary campaign" run by senior Communist Party officials."[242]

  Turkey

  • In February 2019, the Spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry denounced China for "violating the fundamental human rights of Uyghur Turks and other Muslim communities in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region."[243][244]
  • In July 2019, when Turkish President Erdoğan visited China, he said "It is a fact that the people of all ethnicities in Xinjiang are leading a happy life amid China's development and prosperity.".[245] Turkish officials then claimed the paraphrase was mistranslated by the Turkish side, saying it should rather have read "hopes the peoples of China's Xinjiang live happily in peace and prosperity"[246] Erdogan also said that some people were seeking to "abuse" the Xinjiang crisis to jeopardize the "Turkish–Chinese relationship".[247][248][249] Some Uyghurs in Turkey (as well as in other countries)[250] have also expressed concerns that they may face deportation back to China.[251][252]

  United Kingdom

  • On 3 July 2018, at UK Parliamentary roundtable, the Rights Practice helped to organize a Parliamentary Round-table on increased repression and forced assimilation in Xinjiang. Rahima Mahmut, an Uyghur singer and human rights activist, gave a personal testimony about the violations suffered by the Uyghur community. Dr. Adrian Zenz, European School of Culture and Theology, (Germany), outlined the evidence of a large scale and sophisticated political re-education network designed to detain people for long periods and which the Chinese government officially denies.[253] In November 2019, a BBC Panorama confronted Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming about the issue.[254]

  United States

  • On 3 April 2018, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith sent a letter urging Ambassador to China Terry Branstad to launch an investigation into the reported mass detention of Uyghurs in political re-education camps in Xinjiang.[255][256]
  • On 26 July 2018, Vice President of the United States Mike Pence raised the re-education camps issue at Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. He said that "Sadly, as we speak as well, Beijing is holding hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghur Muslims in so-called 're-education camps', where they're forced to endure around-the-clock political indoctrination and to denounce their religious beliefs and their cultural identity as the goal."[257][258][259]
  • On 26 July 2018, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an independent agency of the U.S. government which monitors human rights and rule of law developments in the People's Republic of China, released a report that said as many as a million people are or have been detained in what are being called "political re-education" centers, the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world today.[260] On 27 July 2018, The U.S. Embassy & Consulate in China released Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom Statement on China, which mentioned the detention of hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in "political re-education camps", and called the Chinese government to release immediately all those arbitrarily detained.[261]
  • On 28 August 2018, U.S. senator Marco Rubio and 16 other members of Congress urged the United States to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against Chinese officials who are responsible for human rights abuses in Xinjiang.[262] In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, they called for the sanctions on Chen Quanguo who is the current Communist Party Secretary of the Xinjiang (the highest post in an administrative unit of China) and six other Chinese officials and two businesses that make surveillance equipment in Xinjiang.[263][264][265][266]
  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his refusal to condemn the Chinese government’s repressions against the Uyghurs.[267]
  • On 3 May 2019, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver condemns the detention of Uyghurs as concentration camps.[5][268][233]
  • On 11 September 2019, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act.[269][270] On 3 December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a stronger version of the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act by a vote of 407 to 1.[271][272]
  • On 8 January 2020, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China released its annual report, which stated that Chinese government actions in Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity.[273][274]

OrganizationsEdit

  European Union

Organization for Islamic Cooperation

  • On 1 March 2019, the OIC produced a document which “commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens.”[278][279][280][281]

  United Nations

  • On 21 May 2018, during the resumed session of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations in UN, Kelley Currie, the U.S. representative to the U.N. for economic and social affairs, raised the mass detention of Uyghurs in re-education camps, and she said that "reports of mass incarcerations in the Xinjiang were documented by looking at Chinese procurement requests on Chinese websites requesting Chinese companies to tender offers to build political re-education camps".[282][283]
  • On 10 August 2018, United Nations human rights experts expressed alarm over many credible reports that China had detained a million or more ethnic Uyghurs in Xinjiang.[284] Gay McDougall, a member of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, said that "In the name of combating religious extremism, China had turned Xinjiang into something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a sort of no-rights zone".[285][286][287]
  • On 10 September 2018, U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called on China to ease restrictions on her and her office's team, urging China to allow observers into Xinjiang and expressing concern about the situation there. She said, "The UN rights group had shown that Uyghurs and other Muslims are being detained in camps across Xinjiang and I expect discussions with Chinese officials to begin soon".[288]

Human rights organisationsEdit

  • On 10 September 2017, Human Rights Watch released a report that said "The Chinese government should immediately free people held in unlawful 'political education' centers in Xinjiang and shut them down."[3]
  • On 9 September 2018, Human Rights Watch released a 117-page report, "'Eradicating Ideological Viruses': China's Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang's Muslims",[289] which accused China of the systematic mass detention of tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in political re-education camps without being charged or tried and presented new evidence of the Chinese government's mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.[290][291] The report also urged foreign governments to pursue a range of multilateral and unilateral actions against China for its actions, including "targeted sanctions" against those responsible.[292]

OtherEdit

In a July 2018 article, the Foreign Policy reported:

No Muslim nation’s head of state has made a public statement in support of the Uighurs this decade. Politicians and many religious leaders who claim to speak for the faith are silent in the face of China’s political and economic power...Many Muslim governments have strengthened their relationship with China or even gone out of their way to support China’s persecution.[293]

In 2019, The Art Newspaper reported that "hundreds" of writers, artists, and academics had been imprisoned, in what the magazine qualified as an attempt to "punish any form of religious or cultural expression" among Uyghurs.[294] Additionally, Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum published an article about the camps, in which she claimed that China was using them to persecute Uyghurs and make them a minority in their ancestral homeland, and in the same article, she also claimed that China previously did the same thing to Tibetans in Tibet.[295]

The Center for World Indigenous Studies has labeled these policies "cultural genocide".[296] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum referred to China's persecution of Uyghurs as "crimes against humanity."[297]

Vox Media,[25] The Daily Telegraph[233] and Dolkun Isa have referred to these camps as concentration camps.[298] The Washington Post editorial board further referred to the camps as part of a "mass ethnic cleansing."[299]

Responses from ChinaEdit

The Chinese government denied the existence of re-education camps in Xinjiang[citation needed], until October 2018, when it officially legalized them.[300] When international media had asked about the re-education camps, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that they have not heard of this situation.[301]

On 12 August 2018, a Chinese state-run tabloid, Global Times, defended the crackdown in Xinjiang[302] after a U.N. anti-discrimination committee raised concerns over China's treatment of Uyghurs. According to the Global Times, China prevented Xinjiang from becoming 'China's Syria' or 'China's Libya', and local authorities' policies saved countless lives and avoided a 'great tragedy'.[303][304] The paper published another editorial the day after, titled "Xinjiang policies justified".[305]

On 13 August 2018, at a UN meeting in Geneva, the delegation from China told the United Nations Human Rights Committee that "There is no such thing as re-education centers in Xinjiang and it is completely untrue that China put 1 million Uyghurs into re-education camps".[306][307][308] A Chinese delegation said that "Xinjiang citizens, including the Uyghurs, enjoy equal freedom and rights." They claimed that "Some minor offenders of religious extremism or separatism have been taken to 'vocational education' and employment training centers with a view to assisting in their rehabilitation".[309]

On 14 August 2018, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said "anti-China forces had made false accusations against China for political purposes and a few foreign media outlets misrepresented the committee's discussions and were smearing China's anti-terror and crime-fighting measures in Xinjiang" after a U.N. human rights committee raised concern over reported mass detentions of ethnic Uyghurs.[310][311]

On 21 August 2018, Liu Xiaoming, the Ambassador of China to the United Kingdom, wrote an article in response to a Financial Times report entitled "Crackdown in Xinjiang: Where have all the people gone?".[312] Liu's response said: "The education and training measures taken by the local government of Xinjiang have not only effectively prevented the infiltration of religious extremism and helped those lost in extremist ideas to find their way back, but also provided them with employment training in order to build a better life."[313]

On 10 September 2018, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang condemned a report about the re-education camps issued by Human Rights Watch. He said: "This organisation has always been full of prejudice and distorting facts about China." Geng also added that: "Xinjiang is enjoying overall social stability, sound economic development and harmonious co-existence of different ethnic groups. The series of measures implemented in Xinjiang are meant to improve stability, development, solidarity and people's livelihood, crack down on ethnic separatist activities and violent and terrorist crimes, safeguard national security, and protect people's life and property."[314][315]

On 11 September 2018, China called for U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet to "respect its sovereignty", after she urged China to allow monitors into Xinjiang and expressed concern about the situation there.[316] Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: "China urges the U.N. human rights high commissioner and office to scrupulously abide by the mission and principles of the U.N. charter, respect China's sovereignty, fairly and objectively carry out its duties, and not listen to one-sided information".[317][316][318]

On 16 October 2018, a CCTV prime-time program aired a 15 minute episode on what was termed as Xinjiang's 'Vocational Skills Educational Training Centers', featuring the Muslim internees. Sinologist Manya Koetse documented that it received a mixture of supportive and critical responses on the Sina Weibo social media platform.[319]

In March 2019, against the background of the US considering imposing sanctions against Chen Quanguo, who is the region's most senior Communist Party official, Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir denied the existence of the camps.[citation needed] [268]

On 18 March 2019, the Chinese government released a white paper about the counter-terrorism, de-radicalization in Xinjiang. The white paper claims "A country under the rule of law, China respects and protects human rights in accordance with the principles of its Constitution." The white paper also claims Xinjiang has not had violent terrorist cases for more than two consecutive years, extremist penetration has been effectively curbed, and social security has improved significantly.[320]

In July 2019, the Chinese government released another white paper that claims "The Uygur people adopted Islam not of their own volition … but had it forced upon them by religious wars and the ruling class."[321] A Global Times opinion piece the same month claimed that the re-education camps employed "the advanced version of normal social govern" and said the process is "the victory of all the Chinese people including Xinjiang people".[322] In November 2019, the Chinese ambassador in London responded questions about newly leaked documents on Xinjiang by calling the documents "fake news."[254]

On 6 December 2019, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying accused the US of hypocrisy on human rights issues relating to allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[323][324]

Response from dissidentsEdit

On 10 August 2018, about 47 Chinese intellectuals and others issued an appeal against what they describe as "shocking human rights atrocities perpetrated in Xinjiang".[325]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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