BAILEY T. STEEN | FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2018
On August 10th, a woman was accused of illegally crossing the border of China’s Xinjiang region into Kazakhstan. The Washington Post reports that Sayragul Sauytbay, a 41-year-old lady of both Chinese-Kazakh national status, was a government employee forced to flee the communist nation upon being coerced into working for a state-enforced indoctrination camp.
In court, the woman helped corroborate allegations highlighted in a new shocking U.N. report alleging that the Uighurs population— an ethnically Muslim minority in China’s western Xinjiang province — were being illegally detained in programs against their religious liberties. The investigation from United Nations human rights experts detailed how prisoners being subjected to programs requiring the forced study of communist propaganda, wherein which prisoners are expected to praise the nation’s reigning President Xi Jinping and sing songs declaring that quote: “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China.” Failure to comply with the government’s programs reportedly entails punishment, such as waterboarding among other torture methods declared illegal under international law.
China’s government deny these allegations as a work of fiction, of course. Just examine Hu Lianhe, a senior official with the Chinese government agency overseeing China’s ethnic and religious affairs, who outright said that “there is no arbitrary detention”. His ilk are also enabled by complacent media outlets, of both the East and West, that are printing their we-do-no-wrong state narrative as a headline. But what’s the word of a totalitarian government, known for their continued violation of human rights and liberties, compared to their fleeing refugees?
The Post secured interviews with 20 other Kazakhstan nationals — including 3 former camp detainees — who made very similar independent claims about life at China’s borders near Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Each individual argued that East Asia’s brutal tradition of forced religious reeducation wasn’t just a cold figment of the past, a la the buddhists of old, but rather a violent reality for these new “enemies of the state” — one million Muslims now held indefinitely in mass government detention.
One. Million. People. A recent report from The Intercept notes the population of China’s Uighur Muslims is 11 million, citing DNA extraction statistics the Chinese government forced nearly all their citizens to undertake by law. That’s a blip in the country’s overall population, yet here we are with 1–10 of their minorities are being arbitrarily held without trial, jury or crime purely for their ethno-religious identity.
“We are really talking here about a humanitarian emergency,” Adrian Zenz, a specialist on Xinjiang who lectures at the European School of Culture and Theology in Berlin, told The New York Times. “This is a very targeted political re-education effort that is seeking to change the core identity and belief system of an entire people. On that scale it’s pretty unprecedented.”
“In the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability, [China has turned Xinjiang province] into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no rights zone’,” said Gay McDougall, a member of the ‘UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination’, in a Geneva speech last week. “We call on China to end their counterproductive policies and free all of those who have been arbitrarily detained,” the U.N. statement concluded.
It’s truly an astonishingly display from an unchecked global superpower. It may, perhaps, be the largest account of human rights violations since the tragic events of the Holocaust, wherein which the slaughter of millions of ethno-religious minorities was deemed permissible by Europe’s fascist movement of the 1940s. And yet despite all this, it doesn’t have this kind of international response. Why?
As pointed out by controversial journalist Mehdi Hasan — a man notorious for a certain degree of bias towards his faith — the Chinese government’s actions aren’t just a newly spawned form of bigotry. It’s been happening since 9/11. He cites the 2009 campaign known as “strike hard and punish”. This was governmental effort during the escalation of the war on terror, where freedom protests from the Uighur population was “stamped out” by the communist regime’s armed forces.
“From the start of November , public security bodies in Xinjiang [went through the] campaign to further consolidate the fruits of maintaining stability and eliminate security dangers,” said the Communist party’s state newspaper, People’s Daily, in their attempted rationalisation. These security dangers, in this case, surely meant any form of religious freedom deemed problematic by the state. In 2016 and 2017, Vox reports their efforts turned to “curbing religious freedom” and “increased surveillance”. Now it’s escalated into detaining millions for their very existence and thoughts.
Orwellian China is always watching, it seems. But is the rest of the world?
In his conversation with The Intercept, it was Amnesty International’s own East Asia Regional Director, Nicholas Bequelin, who told Hasan this should have been viewed as an international “turning point.” Bequelin continued that “[the Chinese government] is currently engaged in a mass brainwashing operation that requires the detention of hundreds of thousands of people, arbitrarily, outside of any legal framework, in order to subject them to intense political indoctrination, in the hope that this will make them into a more compliant and loyal political entity.”
And what’s the response from the United States and its allies? Their voters, regardless of political alignment, were generally supportive of rhetoric from President Donald Trump and his aggressive approach towards China on trade. The same could be said of, say, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was actually praised on Twitter by then-candidate Trump on for sharing these views. Conflict is messy, sure, but when they have the leverage to organise an international resistance, on both economic and moral grounds, it’s not addressed.
There are arguments for the need for “de-extremification” of Islamist ideology. There’s a reason why the buddhists haven’t crashed a plane into building since WW2, meanwhile the scar of 9/11, organised by Saudi-funded jihadists, is just only two decades old. Be it politically encouraged or a cultural norms, there could be support towards moving away from faiths where the leaders — such as innocent ol’ Muhammad — supposedly married a 9-year-old in the form of Aisha, raped her and brought his religion by the sword.
This argument, however, falls apart when “de-extremification” is just swapping one radical ideology to another in state communism. Especially when you have no proof to distinguish one of these radicals from the nominal Muslim entitled to their rights. It shouldn’t need explaining why liberal-democratic values, as simple as due process, is a fundamental good for society, yet the Chinese government, as always, never fails to surprise us.
“There is no way that China can ensure it has sufficient loyalty from the Uighur people,” Bequelin continued. “[The Chinese will] create a generation with very deep grievances because they are detained outside of any kind of legal framework and they are treated as colonial subjects. [Every colonial project] generates its own anti-colonial project.” So congratulations, commies. In your effort to curb the small jihadist problems in the East, you potentially just added nearly a million to strengthen the global jihadist narrative. Now leaving the conflict between two evils. Very doubleplusgood, indeed.
Thanks for reading!
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, designer and film critic residing in the heart of Victoria, Australia. He’s also a proud Putin Puppet™ on occasion.
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