Concentration Camps in Xinjiang


Oriane Dancler, Reporter

In Xinjiang, China there are over 1 million Uighurs Muslims in internment camps. Muslims are imprisoned because the Chinese government sees them as a “threat.”

There are 380 concentration camps across Xinjiang. The Muslims being held in these 380 camps are “threats”in China’s eyes. They are considered  “threats” because of incidents of violent attacks over the years. These violent attacks consist of one in particular. This attack happened in 2009 when riots broke out in Urumqi. Uighurs were protesting their rights and their mistreatment by the government and Han majority. About 200 were killed and 100 were injured due to this riot. China also says these camps are to “combat terrorism”. China says this because some Uiguhrs were joining the terrorist group ISIS.

The community in Xinjiang is around 11 million people. They consist of mostly Muslim Turkic ethnicity. The Uighurs pride themselves on their culture. They speak in the traditional Uighur language and dialect. Uighurs identify themselves as East Turkestan. In 1949, they tried to declare independence but were denied. Today they are a part of communist China.

In the internment camps these Muslims are being tortured. Muslims are being exploited to do cheap labor. They are forced to make clothes and other products for sale around the world. Many face masks that were being sold around the world were manufactured by Uighurs imprisoned in camps. The people in the camps are being beaten and forced to take medication. Women are subjected to mass sterilization. This forces them to take birth control pills and have abortions. The Chinese officials make them do this and then send them into camps. The Chinese government says they do this to control the Uighurs population.

The government has denied these concentration camps even existed. The government only agreed it existed after seeing pictures of the camps being built. Still, the Chinese government denied that the photos were concentration camps. The government claims they are teaching in these camps life skills. That’s why they decided to call them “re-education centers” for Uighurs or “Vocational Education and Training Centers”. These camps are legal in China as of October of 2018.

On September 22, the House of Representatives voted to have no more imports from the Xinjiang region made from the Muslims. This bill has not been passed yet but if it does there will be no more exports from that region. The United States is trying to press China. America is trying to show they want all the Muslims out of the centers. They know China needs them for exports so this is giving them that push to do what is morally right.

Save Uighur is an organization advocating for the human rights of Uighur Muslims. Save Uighur has been around since 1999 and pledges to help make the Uighur community better in China. The mission of this organization is to raise public awareness of the oppression that Uighurs expereince. Save Uighur addresses human rights abuses that often go unreported in mainstream Western news. The Save Uighur campaign has a petition and a way you should help. Please sign their petition to be a part of the change.