In China’s far-western region of Xinjiang, Uighurs and Kazakhs, both majority Muslim ethnic groups, face security restrictions at unprecedented levels, where their movements and actions are monitored daily, the intention is to make any possibility of descent or criticism of the Chinese state impossible.
The most alarming of these security measures has been the creation of ‘re-education camps’, which the Chinese government refers to as ‘vocational training centres.’ Credible sources, according to the United Nations, report that there are up 1.1 million people detained in these facilities.
Their purpose is to de-radicalise the Muslim population from behaviour which is regarded as ‘extremist’. In reality the Chinese governments definition of extremist can range from offences as minor as growing a long beard, or having WhatsApp downloaded on your phone.
There have been reports of abuse, torture, and even death as a result of time spent in these camps. There have also been accusations of brainwashing techniques where “detainees are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, sing praises of the Chinese Communist Party, and memorize rules applicable primarily to Turkic Muslims”, according to Human Rights Watch.
I’m joined by Halmurat Harri Uyghur, doctor and Uighur activist who founded the #MeTooUyghur social media campaign which has given a voice to people affected by these policies whose family members are thought to be detained in these camps.
Halmurat is expressing his personal thoughts about the situation of Uighurs in Winjiang as an activist, and his opinions are not representative of the Uighur community.
Cover Photo: Protestors_Karl Johans Gate_Oslo_Jul18 Street Protest, Oslo by Ian Halsey