A 21st Century Holocaust: The Uyghur Muslims

World War II was famously known for the horrifying genocide of the Jews: The Holocaust. In the 21st century with expectedly social media, human rights, and progressive nature, it is hard to believe such an event could ever repeat. Knowing the brutality and repercussions of the Holocaust it is saddening and unacceptable for another to be normalized and continued. Yet, another Holocaust is in the making: THE UYGHUR MUSLIMS IN CHINESE CONCENTRATION CAMPS. 

Who are the Uyghurs? The Uyghur Muslims are a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority in the Northwest region of China. They are less than one percent of China’s population and are greatly oppressed. The Uyghurs were inhabitants of the Xinjiang province (East Turkestan) before it was seized in 1949. 

The Chinese government is expanding its “re-education” detention camps in aim to suppress the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Basic human rights are violated and inhabitants are being tortured, abused, and religiously brainwashed. The URGENCY of this situation is still not known by many. After images of camps have been released, the Chinese government has only acknowledged them as “re-education centers” for Uyghurs. The government has passed laws to prohibit men from growing long beards and women from wearing veils. Moreover, multiple mosques have been demolished as an attempt to get rid of their culture. This is merely not as bad as what is happening inside the actual concentration camps.

The Concentration Camps

The United Nations has recognized the “assessment” of the Chinese Counter-terrorism Law in aim to suppress the Uyghurs as gross violations of basic human rights and freedoms. Eyewitnesses and human rights experts have reported brutal conditions and torture. This includes sterilization, abortions, forcing Uyghurs to eat pork, drink alcohol, and denounce themselves as Muslims. Some are electrocuted in what is called the “Tiger Chair.” Survivor Mihrigul Tursun testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission about her experience in the “re-education camps” for three months. She was separated from her infants, one of whom died. Tursun states, “I would rather die than go through this torture. I begged them to kill me. They told me my mother and son had died. My father was serving life in prison and that my family was torn apart because of me.” Tursan is just one of the testimonies of multiple victims. Even with leaked photographs, satellite images, live testimonies, and leaked documents, the Chinese government still denies this genocide and rather resorts to propaganda. It is important to ask why are these concentration camps highly guarded and secular if these are merely optional education centers with consent?

Here a few videos to watch to learn more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17oCQakzIl8

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-50511063

https://time.com/5467628/china-uighur-congress-torture/

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/rare-look-inside-chinas-internment-camps-holding-more-than-1-million-muslims/#x

What can you do?

As a regular citizen and especially a teenager it's hard to figure out if you can even do something helpful or if it would even make a difference. I’ve compiled a small list of things you can do as an individual that will make an impact on a small and large scale:

1. SHARE, EDUCATE, BE AWARE

There is a shocking amount of people who still don’t know about this event or, in fact, many world issues. I’ve been that person before and, hence, educating yourself, spreading reliable information, and trying to be open-minded and analytical is one step closer to creating awareness and strong action on this event. The media and the public hold strong power in creating change if their voices are used.

2. Contact Your Representatives

While these may sound tedious it is very easy. Simply researching the views and political actions of the candidate you vote for is important in choosing someone who will live up to the ideas which you support. Moreover, by creating pressure through social media (tagging representatives) to send emails, it can help in pushing for nationwide and worldwide action.

3. Sign Petitions 

Signing petitions can help bring attention and awareness towards the issue. It is completely free and not time-consuming! It is a great way to get people involved to create awareness about the concentration camps.

4. Donate & Support 

If possible donate and support organizations aimed to support Uyghur Muslims and make efforts to aid and bring the concentration camps to an end. Do your research on trusted groups who can provide results of their work.

 

Sources:

Academy, Posted by Uyghur. “Brief History of the Uyghurs.” Uyghur Academy, akademiye.org/en/?p=130. 

Meixler, Eli. “Uighur Woman Tells Congress of Torture in China Camps.” Time, Time, 30 Nov. 2018, time.com/5467628/china-uighur-congress-torture/. 

“The Targeting of Uighur Muslims in China.” Facing History and Ourselves, www.facinghistory.org/educator-resources/current-events/targeting-uighur...

“Unprecedented UN Critique of China's Xinjiang policies.” Human Rights Watch, 18 Oct. 2020, www.hrw.org/news/2019/11/14/unprecedented-un-critique-chinas-xinjiang-po...

“What Is Happening with the Uighurs in China?” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/newshour/features/uighurs/.