Monday, November 25, 2019

The Chinese Repression of the Uighurs

A vast chain of Chinese internment camps is used to detain at least a million people from the nation’s Muslim minorities. Chinese authorities have split up families, targeted the Uighur language and culture for suppression, razed cultural and historic sites and criticised even mild expression of Muslim identity, micromanaging everything from beard length to babies’ names. The campaign apparently aims to obliterate Uighur heritage, society and cultural and religious identity.

Documents leaked to the media state:

1. Camps must adhere to a strict system of total physical and mental control, with multiple layers of locks on dormitories, corridors, floors and buildings. Fences should be put around each building, and walls around the compound. A dedicated police station must be at the front gate, all monitored by security guards in watchtowers.

2. Inmates could be held indefinitely – but must serve at least a year in the camps before they can even be considered for “completion”, or release.

3. The camps are to be run on a points system. Inmates earn credits for “ideological transformation”, “compliance with discipline” and “study and training”.

4. Even after completing their “education transformation” inmates are not allowed to go free. They move into another tier of camps, where they face a further three- to six-months’ internment for “labour skills training”.

5. Weekly phone calls and a monthly video call with relatives are their only contact with the outside world, and they can be suspended as punishment.

6. “Preventing escape” is a top priority. The order demands round-the-clock video surveillance “with no blind spots” to monitor every moment of an inmates’ day. Control of every aspect of their lives is so comprehensive that they have to be assigned a specific place not only in dormitories and classrooms, but even in the lunchtime queue.
There have been multiple accounts by people who passed through camps of torture, rape and abuse. In an apparent sign of concern about the consequences of mistreatment, Zhu’s order instructs staff to “never allow abnormal deaths”. Former detainees remain under surveillance even after release, with local security and judicial officials told that “students should not leave the line of sight for one year”. The document demands “strict secrecy”, and in addition to a predictable ban on videos and cameras, staff are also ordered not to aggregate important data, preventing even those inside the system from understanding its full extent.
“The purpose of the camp network was to try to indoctrinate and change an entire population by channeling them through this dedicated system,” said Adrian Zenz, a leading researcher into the Xinjiang internment camps, who is senior fellow in China studies at the victims of communism foundation. Zenz, who has reviewed the documents, described them as “a very important confirmation” of the nature of the system. “The Chinese government has been dishonest about the fact that these people are not voluntarily there, they’re forced to be there,” he added.

The plight of the Uighurs has previously been the topic of Socialist Standard articles.

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