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China’s Genocide: Xinjiang "Re-education Camps"

[Image by Samer Chidiac from Pixabay]

Following the Chinese communist party’s decree in 2014 of the “people’s war on terror”, a system of “re-education camps” had been formed throughout the region of Xinjiang. 

How did this come about?

In response to the murders of a group of Uighurs in Shaoguan, a southern Chinese city, a protest, later turned into a riot, organised by the Uighurs took place on July 5th, 2009. Despite this not being the first confrontation, tension between the predominantly Muslim minority, the Uighurs, and the Xinjiang authorities brewed. (click here to find out more)

Who are the Uighurs?

Indigenous to Xinjiang, the Uighurs are a marginalised minority based on two demographics: religion and ethnicity. 

Within the communist state that promotes atheism, the Uighurs are perceived as a threat with the “toxicity of religious extremism” (CFR). Additionally, they are believed to be inferior to the Hans, an ethnic majority in China that the state and it's systems favours. 

The Uighurs are predominantly Muslim, with their own culture, language, and identity. However, this was later stripped away from them in 1949 when the communist state of China had annexed (click here to learn more about annexation) the region of Xinjiang as well as a significant population of the Uighurs. Since then, both the region of Xinjiang and the Uighurs have been subjected to the authoritarian rule of the Chinese government. 

What is happening now?

Known for its autonomy, the Chinese region of Xinjiang has come under heavy scrutiny after information of its ‘ethnic gulags’ had been leaked. 

The leaked 400 paged document(s) were officially released to the public back in November 2019. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) had provided the document(s) to the New York Times (click here to view). The ICIJ claimed to have been presented with this inside information by a Chinese government member. 

The documents not only detail the orchestration of the concentration camps that the party state adamantly advertises as “job-training centres” (The New York Times), it also describes the scripted narrative that the Chinese government officials regurgitated to the families of those incarcerated within the gulags.  

According to The New York Times, the premeditated "chillingly bureaucratic guide" was designed to help government officials handle the “anguished questions” of relatives of the taken. It begins with the question: Where is my family? To which they are to respond with “the prescribed” answer: 

“They’re in a training school set up by the government”

As aforementioned, the Chinese government has gone to extreme lengths to perpetuate the false narrative to its’ citizens that the concentration camps are not “re-education camps” but are “job-training centres”. 

What are concentration camps? 

Concentration camps are “internment centre[s] for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order.” (Britannica

The concept of ‘concentration camps’ is first significantly noted to be formed by the British government. They were formulated and utilised during the South African war that lasted 3 years, from 1899 to 1902. Since then, many versions, each with their own atrocities, have been witnessed throughout wars proceeding. 

Concentration camps violates Human rights on multiple accounts. 

What happens in China’s Muslim concentration camps?

[Trigger Warning: Mentions of torture, violence, sexual assault and suicidal intent]

It has been highlighted that those detained within these camps are being mistreated in way that is worse than dehumanising.

According to ABC news, the detainees must endure “different forms of torture -- ranging from sleep deprivation to starvation”. Despite being reprimanded by international officials, the “Chinese government has denied all allegations of torture within these facilities” (ABC News).

Accounts from released and escaped detainees have sparked outrage. Sources acquired by the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) describe “harsh conditions” where “detainees are forced to pledge loyalty to the CCP and renounce Islam, they say, as well as sing praises for communism and learn Mandarin”. There have also been reports of sexual assault as “women have shared stories of sexual abuse, with some saying they were forced to undergo abortions or have contraceptive devices implanted against their will” (click here to read more). 

The torture and demonising objectification within these “re-education camps” are so traumatising that:

“some released detainees contemplated suicide or witnessed others kill themselves.”

The World’s response:

As expected, many are disgusted, distraught and in disbelief. 

World leaders have spoken out against China’s regime that has undertones of ‘ethnic cleansing’. UN officials and many others have demanded for the Chinese government to allow access to the camps. Additionally, the EU has called out the Chinese government for their blatant disregard for the Uighur Muslims’ right to practice their religion. 

What is being done to help the Uighurs?

The Council of Foreign Relations claims that the:

"Human Rights Watch has advocated other actions the United States and other countries could take [such as] publicly challenging [President] Xi ; denying exports of technologies that facilitate abuse [within the camps]; pressing China to allow UN investigators [into] Xinjiang; and preventing China from targeting members of the Uighur diaspora."

There are also petitions that you can sign here (if you live the UK, please also sign here) for there to be more pressure to be placed upon the Communist state of China to release the Uighurs from the camps and to stop lying to the Chinese people in China of what is going on behind closed doors.


Amnesty International has also created a letter (click here) that you can send to President Xi, demanding that he puts an end to these camps and releases those incarcerated within them. 

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