China’s troubled minorities

China has been detaining hundreds of thousands of ethnic Turkic Muslims in ‘concentration camps’ in its north-western province of Xinxiang for a long time, a UN human rights panel said in 2018.

Pentagon has estimated the number of Uyghur detainees has risen from one million to three million in the past year.

Uyghurs are an ethnic Muslim minority living in east and central Asia. Around 11 million of these Turkic Muslims make half of the population of China’s Xinjiang province, which is the country’s biggest region spanning over 1.6 million km square, bordering with Central Asian countries.

In the name of a crackdown on religious extremism, China has been capturing, detaining, and torturing millions of Muslims in internment camps since 2017. China, however, rejects allegations, saying that the facilities are vocational ‘concentration camps’ to re-educate and train Muslim ethnic minority groups for their rehabilitation and redemption in its attempt to fight terrorism and religious extremism.

A 2018 Reuters report sheds light on the rising number of Gulag in the deserts of Xinxiang which says the number of these detention camps is rapidly rising in the sand deserts of the north-western province. Covering an area of 140 soccer fields, 39 out of 80 internment camps are located via satellite images. The forensic analysis of satellite images shows that the ‘training camps’ are walled all across and heavily guarded by watchtowers.

There is an undeclared censor on the media to visit these camps.

Several newspapers and journals confirm that reporters were not allowed into the heavily guarded ‘vocational camps’.

They are mostly shoed away by the guards at gates of the camps. International journalists visiting the site are under the surveillance of Chinese security agencies right after they land in the city.

Former detainees, who fled the camps, say that the minority groups are tortured physically as well as psychologically. The captives are shackled to chairs for days during interrogation. Their every move even within the camps is monitored with cameras. The camps are so densely populated that inmates take turns resting while others stand. The detainees are also subjected to political indoctrination in these camps and are forced to criticize or give up their religion.

Through this physical and mental torture, the Uyghurs refugees are silenced from telling their sufferings to the world. One of the main reasons behind not speaking up against this state tyranny is the relatives who are still in Gulag detention.

What makes this entire situation more alarming is that there is very little or no outrage in parts of the international community. The main reason behind this mum from around the world is that China is an economic power and the country has used this power to buy silence from less powerful countries it has business ties with. Turkey is the only Muslim country that has issued a public statement to condemn the atrocities of the Chinese government against its ethnic minority group.

In a nutshell, the incarceration of the Uyghur ethnic community in China is drawing the ire of human rights activists, organizations around the world. The global community demands a vivid reply from Chinese authorities. So, it is high time that China comes up with substantial evidence and prove all such claims spurious.

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