China's Concentration Camps

While students at West Tech are learning more about the world everyday from business to engineering to sports medicine, some people are being re-educated in China: the Uyghurs. However, the Uyghurs are not a group of students being taught in China, they are an indigenous Muslim population in the Xinjiang province of China sent to concentration camps labeled as “re-education camps.”

These camps function as a way to threaten the Uyghurs as China’s government pushes for the cultural and ideological re-engineering of Uyghur society. Unlike the US where citizens possess Constitutionally mandated protection, authorities in China can disappear any member of this ethnic minority group for any perceived disobedience or arbitrary act.

Even before the Uyghurs are in these camps, there is little they can do to protect themselves. In one report by Radio Free Asia, an instructor of a daytime re-education course threatened to send members of his class to a “re-education” camp if they could not memorize the oath of allegiance to the Communist Party and the national anthem in Chinese within three days. Before the deadline, an Uyghur in his forties who had difficulty memorizing these texts hanged himself.

While this oppression is reminiscent of Cold War East Germany, the threat of internment has been raised to unprecedented levels as traditional surveillance through manpower is married with new high-tech surveillance systems.

Any information relating to the Uyghur people has been heavily censored and visitors and journalists coming to the country have faced intense scrutiny. In fact, the Human Rights Watch has stated that an enormous amount of data has been collected by China’s electronic monitoring systems and regular mandatory home visits by “work teams” composed of China’s Communist party members and “loyal” state representatives.

The data collected has been entered into an “integrated joint operations platform” which analyzes the information to predict which individuals will engage in acts of disloyalty. These same surveillance systems have been to monitor where reporters are and who they interact with.

As I asked teachers at WCTA if they knew the Uyghurs, I discovered Christopher Rawlins, a US History teacher, and asked him: “What do you know about the Uyghurs in China?”

Christopher Rawlins replied,

“When I lived in China, I attended a college established for the education of China's minorities. I met some students from the XinJiang Region, where most Uyghurs lived. Also, I would sometimes see Uyghurs in Chengdu where I lived and there was even a Muslim restaurant near my apartment.”

As China’s human rights abuses remains widely unknown, the Uyghur remain oppressed. Today, as West Tech students are able to learn more about themselves and the world around them, Uyghurs burn their own books and struggle to discern who views them as loyal and where they will be in a world where they are “reeducated” and disappeared if they fail to comply.

Photo Caption: China’s “Re-education” camps have been heavily censored with foreign press being denied access and prevented from taking footage of any kind

Photo Source Caption: © AP Photo / Ng Han Guan, File (website: sputniknews)

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