China Calls Muslim Detention Camps ‘Humane’ Among International Outrage


Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Protesters in front of the White House rally against the internment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang Province. According to CNN, up to a million Muslims are being detained in China’s internment camps.

Minnah Tanzeen, Staff Writer

On Jan. 8, a United States government commission led an effort to convince the Trump administration to put sanctions on China due to the country’s human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims, according to the Washington Post.

The commission, which is headed by Representative Jim McGovern from Massachusetts, said, “Rising authoritarianism in China is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century.”

Reuters estimates that over 1.5 million Uighurs have been detained in indoctrination camps as an attempt by the Chinese government to limit religious extremism in the Xinjiang region. Tensions between the Han Chinese and the Uighur ethnic minorities have increased since the 2009 Urumqi riots that resulted in the death of 200 people.

Junior Mona Tavassoli has been a practicing Muslim her entire life.

“I think it is occuring because of the same reasons most other genocides begin, because of the scapegoating and isolation of one community,” Tavassoli said. “By making one group the scapegoat for the problems a nation faces, it becomes easy for that government to take action on those people with minimal backlash.”

Prisoners are forced to perform labor in the camps, as indicated by factories near the camps, and indoctrinated by Chinese propaganda that often involves marching, memorizing propaganda and laws of the country. 

The Chinese government has responded to the criticism, calling the camps humane and stating that they are voluntary vocational training programs. 

The Global Times, one of China’s English newspapers tweeted, “How can it be fine to kill terrorists with missiles, but a humanitarian crisis when Xinjiang attempts to turn them into normal people?”

According to CNN, more than 20 countries have called on China to close Xinjiang’s camps.

“It’s hard because China is such an economic powerhouse and has such dominant relationships with many different countries so you’re not going to get a lot of condemnation from the rest of the world,”  history teacher Shameemah Motala said. “I think we as citizens should be more alarmed and concerned to petition government and companies that work closely with China to bring these human rights violations to light.”