Cultural Genocide: How Chinese Concentration Camps Work To “re-educate” Muslims

"The magnitude of the detainees is at least one million people but probably closer to 3 million citizens, over a population of approximately 10 million," said an official from the US State Department, who showed satellite images and testimonies that support That calculation. Within these camps, Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other members of Islamic minorities are subjected to inhuman conditions, where they are re-educated to become "Chinese citizens."

A recent report by Reuters describes that prisoners are “tortured during interrogations in the camps, forced to live in crowded cells where they have no room to sleep and are subjected to a brutal daily indoctrination regime that led to the suicide of some people. "

Dozens of Human Rights organizations, UN officials, and several foreign governments have asked China to close the camps. But Chinese government officials say that what they call "vocational volunteer centers" that do not violate the human rights of the Uyghurs, "only serve to adapt them to the country's norms." However, they have refused to share information about these detention centers and have prevented foreign journalists and investigators from freely examining them. But the recently leaked internal Chinese government documents tell the details about how the CCP, in the hands of President Xi Jinping himself, created and maintains the mass detention camps with the clear purpose of eliminating the culture of Muslim minorities in the region. .


The Uyghurs are an ancient people belonging to the Turks mostly based in China but also in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, among others. Muslims and closer in culture and traditions to other peoples of Central Asia such as Kazakhs and Uzbeks, have historically been in conflict with the Han, the Chinese ethnic majority.

Since the communist party took power in the Xinjiang region in 1949, the Uyghur religious and cultural identity has clashed with the communist-atheist ideology of the Chinese government. The anti-religious sentiment within the policy of the Chinese government can be traced throughout the history of Chinese-Uyghur relations. Beginning during the Mao Cultural Revolution of the 1950s, religion was seen as an obstacle to the objectives of the communist regime and was strongly oppressed. However, once the communist regime stabilized, ethnic minorities were allowed to practice religion as part of their "national identity."

However, this protection was not complete, as the government and the population politically and economically marginalized these minorities during the 1970s and 1980s, culminating in a series of Uighur street protests in the early 21st century. These demonstrations severely repressed by the government and the Chinese state, dominated by the Han, changed their attitude towards the Muslim population of Xinjiang.

This repression fueled the ethnic conflict and there were episodes of terrorist attacks by Islamic fundamentalists, in addition to a strong rejection of Chinese culture by the Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the region. This caused a dramatic escalation in government surveillance and oppression with the aim of turning "ethnic Uyghurs into loyal citizens and party supporters."

In early 2017, the Chinese government launched a structured system to "convert" Uyghurs into model citizens. The Chinese repression of the Uighur population became a systematic attempt to eliminate the cultural and religious identity of the Uyghurs.

How are the camps

Recently published documents reveal several details about these detention camps and confirm that the government, at the explicit request of the highest command of the CCP, designed a collective action to eliminate the culture of its own citizens, these latest leaks are real evidence of the horrors that occur in the camps.

As revealed in the manual published last Sunday by NYT, government officials should use measures to gather and imprison hundreds of thousands of their citizens and take them to what Human Rights organizations call "concentration camps."

With buses and trucks, they began to take the Muslim population of the region to these fields. The documents say that anyone with a veil or "Muslim attire" should be taken to people with relatives in 26 countries called "sensitive" such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Turkey, or even to people who had a copy of the Quran in their houses. In addition, anyone who had contacted someone abroad through WhatsApp could also be taken.

Once there, inmates spend months or years of indoctrination and interrogation to transform them into secular and loyal supporters of the party. A Reuters interview with eight former detainees reveals an image of severe extrajudicial detention that does not match Beijing's version of providing vocational skills in training centers to help the local population.

Some of the former detainees said they were chained to chairs and deprived of sleep during interrogation days. They described living in prison conditions and were severely punished for complaining. All their movements, including visits to the bathroom, were monitored by cameras and microphones. A detained woman said her cell was so full that the inmates took turns sitting and resting while others stood.

From dawn to night, detainees said they were subjected to stunning political indoctrination. This included reciting the Chinese laws and policies of the Communist Party, as well as singing the national anthem and other traditional red songs. Those who did not correctly memorize the lines of the party's dictums were denied food, the testimonies said. The detainees were forced to renounce their religion, participate in self-criticism sessions and report on other inmates, family members and neighbors. But above all, they could not escape. In order to leave, they should get a good score on a scale based on their knowledge of the CCP doctrine or Mandarin quality.

These camps, which currently operate with watchtowers that have armed guards, double-locked doors and thousands of cameras that monitor every movement of prisoners, are a true Orwellian nightmare.

Empty houses, imprisoned relatives

Of the 403 pages that make up 24 documents published by the NYT, a directive on how to handle Uyghur and Kazakh students returning to their home in Xinjiang in the summer of 2017 offers the most detailed description of the indoctrination fields and more illustration clear of the regimented way in which the party told the public this story while mobilizing. This explains to government officials how to answer questions from students who would obviously be worried to find that their house was empty, locked with keys, because the party had taken their relatives.

In the brief, prepared as a script in question and answer format for Chinese officials, it is explained how to inform students that their relatives have been taken to “vocational training camps.” When asked questions like “Are there possibilities for training? Is my family shortened? ", the answers are simply brutal:" It is irresponsible of you to think about that. Your family member's thinking has been infected with a virus "and they definitely need a quick" residential treatment "before the outbreak explodes. disease and before embarking on the path of criminality. A day before the eradication of this "malignant tumor" in their thinking means a day before they can return to their family and society. "

Students should be "grateful" that their relatives were taken to these fields, he says in writing. It is for the benefit of their family and Chinese society that they are being treated and trained and will be there until it can be confirmed that they would not be a threat to the community. The "virus" of Islam would have led to criminality and it is good that they are now receiving free education from the government so that they can become good Chinese citizens.

In addition, the note explains how to threaten students to complain too much. The document implies that the authorities are using a scoring system to determine who can be released from the camps: it instructs officials to tell students that their behavior could damage their relatives' scores.

But the phrase that stands out most of all is how to answer if students ask if their relative committed a crime: "No, it's just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts," says the script. "Freedom is only possible when this virus in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health ”.

The justification of a cultural genocide

Chinese officials are concerned that Uyghurs have extremist and separatist ideas and see the camps as a way to eliminate threats to China's territorial integrity, government and people. The threat of Islamic terrorism, a phenomenon that expanded by leaps and bounds in recent years, has been particularly problematic for the West. With this in mind, the CCP took swift and secret measures to ensure that its historic Muslim region was "neutralized."

According to documents published by the NYT, President Xi himself laid the groundwork for repression in a series of speeches given privately to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, a few weeks after militants Uighurs will stab more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31 of them. It was then that the president called for a "total fight against terrorism, infiltration and separatism" using the "organs of the State", and not showing "absolutely no mercy."

The camps began after Xi took power in 2013. The fields in Xinjiang expanded rapidly after Chen Quanguo's appointment in August 2016. The new and enthusiastic party chief for the region distributed the speeches of Xi to justify the campaign and urged officials to "bring together all who should be arrested."

Known for increasing the number of police and security checkpoints, as well as for state control over Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, Chen has dramatically intensified security in Xinjiang.

Despite the evidence that the Chinese government is effectively imprisoning, torturing and indoctrinating more than one million Uighur Muslims – who are particularly persecuted for their religious beliefs or ethnicity – in “reeducation” camps, there is no evidence of a effort to murder them en masse. "Actually, the information we have would not seem to refer to a case of genocide," says Alejandro Chehtman, an expert in public international law and plenary professor at the Law School at the Torcuato Di Tella University, in conversation with Infobae. Chehtman explains that the Convention against Genocide (1948), in the ad hoc Courts of the United Nations and in the Statute of the International Criminal Court is more restrictive and requires that the conditions of existence to which the group is subjected “entail its destruction total or partial physics. ”

These actions are rather a collective effort to "erase" the culture of the Uyghurs of the world. This is why a recent editorial note published by The Washington Post uses the term "cultural genocide" to refer to the actions of the Chinese government, for which its government can be accused of serious violations of international law.

“The fact that it is not technically a case of genocide does not mean that the behaviors are not illegal under international law, or that individuals cannot also be held individually responsible for them. The facts denounced, if proven, could constitute other international crimes, such as crimes against humanity and there is no doubt that they would constitute very serious violations of international human rights law, ”says Chehtman.

The international relations game

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as vocational training centers that use gentle methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the repression in the words and orders of the same officials who conceived and orchestrated them. But one of the features of Xi China that distinguish it from its ancestors is its cunning to "play the game of international relations."

Before the UN General Assembly, 23 countries – almost all of them Western – came together to make a strong official statement criticizing Beijing's Xinjiang detention centers. That group of states sought to pressure China to urgently implement recommendations from independent UN experts on the situation in Xinjiang, "even avoiding the arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and members of other Muslim communities." They also asked countries not to send refugees or asylum seekers back if they can face persecution.

But China's response, instead of denying that this was happening and being exposed with a numerical disadvantage vis-à-vis the international community, was more ingenious. At Beijing's request, Belarus issued a statement alleging that 54 countries supported the Xinjiang system. Not all signatories were revealed, but a similar statement in July included several Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran.

A few days ago, at a press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that "some foreign media" are trying to "exaggerate the Xinjiang issue" to "defame" the Beijing-led campaign for "anti-terrorism and de-radicalization. "

"They will not succeed," continued the spokesman, who reiterated that the situation in that northwestern province is an internal Chinese issue and that "a stable and prosperous Xinjiang will be the best response to those slander."

Without having to submit to the power of the West and moving ingeniously in the field of international organizations, China continues to imprison millions for the express purpose of eliminating a culture from the history of mankind and it seems that no government is seriously willing to stop it.