By Mike Bebernes
As many as a million Muslims in China’s western territory of Xinjiang have been detained in “re-education” camps designed to force them to assimilate traditional Chinese culture, according to human rights groups and media reports.
The detainees are members of the Uighur ethnic group, a Turkic-speaking minority that has been under Chinese rule since the mid-20th century. Reports of widespread detention began surfacing in 2018, but the breadth of the campaign has been difficult to verify because of China’s tight control of information within its borders.
A series of leaks in recent months have detailed what advocacy groups describe as an attempt to erase Uighur identity from the region in what some have called a “cultural genocide.” Reports from inside the camps allege human rights violations including torture, rape, sterilisation and forcing Uighurs to defy their Muslim faith. Outside the camps, China has been accused of razing thousands of mosques and Uighur cultural sites while instituting a high-tech surveillance state to spy on residents.
China initially denied the existence of the camps, then later said they were necessary to prevent Islamist terrorism. On Monday the head of the Xinjiang regional government said all people detained in the camps had “graduated” and been released back into society. He offered no proof of these claims.
Why There’s Debate
Pushback against China was slow to materialize after reports of the camps first started coming out last year, but the international community has become more vocal as details of the alleged abuses surface.
Officials from several countries, including the United States, have condemned China’s actions. The local government’s claim that detainees have been released, even if it proves to be untrue, shows that international pressure is working, some argue.
Advocates say that limited sanctions and finger-wagging from other nations is far too little to ensure safety and freedom for the Uighurs. Western leaders have been accused of prioritizing their economic relationship with China ahead of the human rights of the Uighur people. President Trump has been specifically criticized for remaining quiet on abuses in Xinjiang as he pursued a trade deal with China, that was reportedly reached in principle on Thursday.
Original Headline: Can the West help end persecution of Chinese Muslims?
Source: The Yahoo