Concentration camps, religious discrimination, violence against a minority group. What comes into your head after reading these words? Do you think I am mentioning the Holocaust from 1941? I’m not. This is the reality of many Uighur Muslims in China, in the year 2020. China has been violently discriminating against the Uighur Muslim population. The country has constructed and is continuing to construct more and more concentration camps to contain and violate Uighurs.
First, a little history is needed. Xinjiang is a region that was annexed by China in 1949 and many of the Uighur people still call that land the original name, known as “East Turkestan.” China wanted this land for the abundance of natural gas it contains. They claimed that they felt threatened by the Uighur Muslims since the 2013 and 2014 attacks that Uighur militants took responsibility for. China claims that they are terrified of Uighurs one day establishing their own homeland in East Turkestan after some Uighurs held riots in which many people were killed. After that, in 2017, China slowly started its transition into full discrimination against the Uighur population.
China started to ban Uighur people from growing long beards and wearing veils. Many mosques were bulldozed and reduced to ruins. Police officials were given orders by the government to start arresting people and take them to the camps. When other countries began suspecting that China was holding these camps, China tried to decrease suspicion and completely denied the existence of these camps. After more proof became available of these camps, China claimed that it is creating re-education camps to lessen any chance of there being more “terrorist” attacks by the Uighur Muslims and trying to make their country safer. However, is that really the case?
Inside these camps, the Uighurs experience hell on earth. They are forced to not speak their language and instead only speak Chinese. They are also forced to eat pork and drink alcohol which is both forbidden in their religion. They are told that Islam is a mental illness. The Uighur women whose husbands are taken to the camps have Chinese men living with them and raping them and forcing them to marry them. The women in the camps are raped as well. Officers would force others to watch while sexually assaulting women and if the onlookers showed any sort of disgusted and distraught emotion they were taken away and never seen again. The Uighurs are being beaten and harassed. They are deprived of food when they are not forced to eat pork. They are told not to speak, laugh, cry, or answer any questions with each other. There is no hygiene and they are being medically experimented on. They are forced to take pills or given shots, which some people reported gave them cognitive decline and the ability to never conceive again. Women who became pregnant after being raped would forcibly receive abortions.
The horrors of these camps are endless, it is hard to believe that this is happening in the year 2020. Another shocking revelation about this is that many Muslim-majority countries have agreed with China’s decision to create these camps. These countries include Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The world has failed Muslims, especially after 9/11. The after-effects of 9/11 live with each Muslim in their everyday life. The blatant Islamophobia in this world is sickening. These camps have been going on for so long and still, nothing is being done to help the people who are detained there. This is a blatant display of human rights violations a modern holocaust is occurring. We cannot stay silent. We have to stand up and fight to save the Uighur people.