China’s Cultural and Ethnic Cleansing of Uighurs

China has gone too far. They are involved in the ethnic and cultural cleansing of the Uighur Muslim community. As a secular humanist, I feel that we need to condemn this strongly and bring awareness to this issue.

If we want to live in a better world, we have to start by acknowledging the wrongs done to others. Being against Islam does not mean we are against Muslims. Their right to practice their religion should be protected under secularism. We do not support any government that does such things. And of course, the leaders of Muslim countries stand silently while worshipping their real god – money. 

Muslims protesting China’s treatment of Uighurs: Image from Forbes

Before I get into what China is doing, let’s look at what Muslim countries are doing. Given the atrocities that China is committing one would expect outrage from the international community at large but particularly from Muslim majority countries, but this has not been the case. Rather a large number of Muslim majority countries have either defended China as a human rights defender and praised China on its handling of terror and separatists threats while others have decided to stay completely silent. Here is a map that shows countries that are supporting China’s handling of the humanitarian crisis in Xinjiang and those that oppose it.  

In a letter to the UNHRC, a block of countries including many Muslim ones defended the Chinese government instead of shinning the spotlight on the gross human rights violations that China is perpetrating.  

Matt Schiavenza – the senior content manager at Asia Society – noted that the silence from many Muslim majority countries may be explained by a couple of factors: the need for Chinese investments and funding, not meddling with other countries internal affairs because most of these countries also have serious human rights violations in their own backyards and the ever-increasing influence of China on the global world. 

When Imran Khan, the Prime minister of Pakistan was asked why his country supported China even though they are oppressing Muslims he decided to play dumb and act like he was not aware of the situation or the scale of the problem. After insistent questioning by reporters at Davos, he later admitted and said, “China has helped us,”. He added

“They came to help us when we were at rock bottom, and so we are really grateful to the Chinese government.”.

Khan later claimed that Pakistan will engage with China privately although there are no indications of such engagements yet. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is also quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that China “has the right to take anti-terrorism and de-extremism measures to safeguard national security” during his visit to Beijing in February 2019.

Although the Middle East and more countries seem to have abdicated their duty to defend the Uighurs and advocate for their freedoms for the reasons mentioned above, we should raise our voices and spread awareness on this issue as this is a stain on humanity. 

David Wood and Apostate Prophet discussed it here. I applaud them for saying the right thing.  For standing up for the rights of Muslims even though all of us are fervent opponents of Islam. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is engaging in mass detention of minority Muslim groups including Kazakh Muslims, the Falun Gong as well as Uighur Muslims throughout China. However, this oppression is more prominent in the Xinjiang Province of China where Uighur Muslims make up over 50% of the population.

To fully understand this problem let us go back a bit and review the geopolitics at play here: The Xinjiang Province is a territory formerly known as Turkestan. This territory makes up about a sixth of total Chinese land. In the 20th century, Xinjiang briefly declared independence from China, but in 1949 China usurped control of this territory. Ever since there have been Uighur separatist movements that have been trying to regain independence and to re-establish a free country for Uighur Muslims and these efforts have always been thwarted by the Central Government of China.

So the real problem to China here is politics. They want to crush this political challenge. They care less about religion and more about their distinct identity.

The Uighurs in Xinjiang are mostly of Turkic background and have their own distinct language – the Uighur language and their own culture and traditions that are in line with Islam. The government of China has always had trouble getting Uighurs to give up their culture and assimilate into the dominant Han culture. As a result, the government passed legislation and implemented policies that ensured that the central government of China gained more power and control of the Xinjiang region while eroding the religious freedoms and self-determination of the Uighurs.

In 2014 BBC reported students at Kashgar Normal University in Xinjiang reported being forced to eat during Ramadan. Such policies were justified as a response to sporadic Islamist attacks that were carried out by disgruntled separatists but cannot be justified on that basis. There is no reason to take away anyone’s private religious freedoms to pray or fast. But then what do you expect from a communist state?

Communism is not a good ideology for humanity. Never has been. 

Although the targeting of Muslim minorities by China has been happening for decades, between 2016 and 2017 there was a significant increase in aggressiveness in the tactics and the scale of the crackdown. This was because of the nomination of Chen Quanguo to leadership in the Xinjiang province who is now leading this effort. Chen Quanguo is the Chief architect of China’s Muslim detention camps.

The statistics on how many Uighurs are detained in these detention centers varies from source to source as China is not allowing journalists or observers to visit these centers but according to the Pentagon and US state department, between 1 and 3 *million* Uighurs have been detained while the Council on Foreign Relations puts the total number of detainees to be in the range of 800k to 2 million. This is anywhere from 10 to 30% of the Uighurs in this province.

The detention process targets Muslims. After the 2014 terror attacks that left about 30 people dead, Xi Jingpin, the president of China declared a “People’s war on religious extremism and terrorism”. This was followed by an “Anti-extremism” bill passed in 2017 in the Xinjiang Province under the leadership of Qen which prohibits keeping a beard, wearing a veil, attending the mosque for prayers, or showing an affinity for Islamism among other things. More importantly, this bill officially recognized the detention centers and authorized their operation and expansion.

The bill formed a major basis for the detention of Muslims. Chinese citizens are also detained for – traveling to about 26 countries (predominantly Muslim countries) deemed sensitive by the CCP (for example Syria and Pakistan), – having relatives in any of the sensitive countries or studying there, texting any Islamic literature, or having 3 or more kids according to CFR and Believer magazine 

Another worrying trend that can be observed from all former detainees’ accounts is that there are no formal charges that are filed by the state and the detainees are denied access to lawyers or to communicate with relatives. Unless it’s a case where the detainees are being used as bait to lure back dissidents that the government is after. No due process is afforded to the detainees and the state can detain them indefinitely.

At first, the Chinese government used to deny the existence of such centers but between late 2017 to early 2018 they began acknowledging it but they vehemently argued that these were not detention centers but rather “rehabilitation” centers.  They argued that these centers were for de-radicalizing the Uighurs and to train them on skills that will help them to assimilate into the Chinese community. 

The harrowing stories from former detainees and leaked government documents paint a completely different picture altogether. The New York Times quotes some of the leaked detention centers operation manuals encouraging no mercy towards detainees but rather to be brutal with them. This corroborates the accounts of former detainees who claim that extreme torture, food, and sleep deprivation were rampant in the detention centers.  

 In an interview with Business Insider, Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national and former employee of the Chinese state alleges that she witnessed forced abortions, sterilizations, and administration of IUDs being performed at a detention center where she was working as a Mandarin and Chinese propaganda teacher. In the same interview, she recounts an incident in which a young female was gang-raped by the male guards while everyone else was forced to watch.

Sayragul goes further and alleges that the people at these detention centers were carrying out experiments on the detainees by injecting them with unidentified substances and forced detainees to take pills without any further explanation. Such victims are said to be reporting impotence, cognitive decline, and other neurodegenerative conditions. This seems to be in line with many accounts given by other former detainees. Kayrat Samarkand, in an interview with NPR, echoed the same sentiments that there is torture occurring in other different detention centers.

In September 2019, an NGO campaigning against forced organ harvesting called The China Tribunal accused the Chinese government of mass harvesting organs from live detainees against their will. The lead counsel for China Tribunal, Hamid Sabi, told the UNHRC that forced organ harvesting in Chinese detention centers has been happening in China for a long time and that according to their group investigations this practice has severely affected Muslims particularly the Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong people. Most of these organs are allegedly sold to Muslim countries including the emirates as halal organs.

As part of the process of deradicalization of The Uighurs at the detention centers, The Uighurs are taught Mandarin and are forbidden to speak in their native language. This process can best be described as deculturization as it is intended to strip the Uighurs of their cultural heritage and force them to adapt to Chinese culture. The detainees are forced to pledge allegiance to China, the CCP, and Xi Jinping himself and renounce Islam. They are forced to sing propaganda songs praising China.

Sent-down state workers monitor the use of Mandarin Chinese in a Uighur children’s classroom: Image from China file

Here we see state workers monitoring the use of Mandarin Chinese in a Uighur children’s classroom. In a children’s classroom! We need to all stop right now and be grateful that we don’t live in a country like this where the government comes into your children’s classroom. Canada recently apologized for residential schools. For taking aboriginal children and forcing them to speak French and English and not allowing them to speak their language.  Seems that we humans just keep making the same mistakes.

The Chinese government also engages in intrusive and extensive surveillance of the Uighurs.  The Council on Foreign Relations and many other reputable news organizations report that The Chinese government uses CCTV cameras that are equipped with facial recognition software such that if any person behaves “strangely” in any manner they are identified and reprimanded. These cameras make up a vast surveillance network and are found everywhere including on the streets, in Mosques, and in shops.  

There is also a heavy police presence in the province. When  Chen Quanguo came into the administration of Xinjiang, he introduced a grid system in which each grid is about 500 people being served by a large police camp. The number of police checkpoints has increased and the police force itself has more than doubled in most towns in Xinjiang province. The police began patrolling near the Mosques to serve as a reminder that the state is always present watching and listening. 

 security personnel patrol near the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar, a city in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region, in 2017. 

While the family members are in detention centers, the government sends Han workers who are imposed on the Uighur families as “relatives”. These “relatives “ are there to make sure that the family members of the detainee are also indoctrinated and monitored closely. Part of the “relatives’ “ job is to teach the detainee’s family Mandarin, CCP, and Chinese propaganda while monitoring for any deviations from the government’s teachings.  

A sent-down state worker reads Xi Jinping’s report for the 19th National Congress of the CCP to her Uighur “relative.”: Image from China File

Imagine the government sending someone into your house to watch everything you say and do.  Pretty scary, right?

This completes the loop of indoctrination where the detainee is being closely monitored and indoctrinated by the detention center guards while his/her relatives at home are also being indoctrinated by these “relatives”.

If we want to live in a better world, we have to start by acknowledging the wrongs done to others. Being against Islam does not mean we are against Muslims. Their right to practice their religion should be protected by secularism. We do not support any government that does such things. And of course, the leaders of Muslim countries stand silently while worshipping their real god – money. 

If we want to live in a better world, we have to start by acknowledging the wrongs done to others. Being against Islam does not mean we are against Muslims. Their right to practice their religion should be protected under secularism. We do not support any government that treats humans like this.  Let’s raise awareness on this issue and fight it however we can.  This is your friendly neighborhood ex-Muslim signing out. 

If you liked this article, consider supporting me.  I’ll add you to my special mailing list, you’ll get early access to my videos and my eternal gratitude. Remember, guiding someone away from Islam is better than 10 red camels. You can quote me on that hadith. 😜


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