Child Separation & Prison Camps: China’s Campaign Against Uyghur Muslims Is “Cultural Genocide”
originally published on Democracy now,in July 26, 2019. follow this link to reach original source. Chinese authorities have been accused of systematically separating Muslim children from their families in the far western region of Xinjiang. According to a new report commissioned by the BBC, China is rushing to build boarding schools where children, mostly from the Uyghur community, are deliberately removed from their families, as well as their language and culture. This comes as an estimated 1 million adults from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned in camps that China claims are “vocational training centers” designed to combat extremism. We speak with independent researcher Adrian Zenz, who did the research for the BBC report, and Uyghur-American activist Rushan Abbas, founder and director of Campaign for Uyghurs.
TranscriptThis is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman. We turn now to China, where authorities have been accused of systematically separating Muslim children from their families in the far western region of Xinjiang. According to a new report commissioned by the BBC, China is rushing to build boarding schools where children, mostly from the Uyghur community, are deliberately removed from their families, as well as their language and culture. Critics accuse China of attempting to culturally re-engineer minority societies. This comes as an estimated 1 million adults from the Uyghur community are being imprisoned in camps that China claims are “vocational training centers” designed to combat extremism. Many of the children who have detained parents or other family members are more vulnerable to removal. Well, last week, Nermeen Shaikh and I sat down, spoke to independent researcher Adrian Zenz, who did the research for the BBC report. He’s an expert on China’s minority policies in Xinjiang and Tibet. We also spoke with Rushan Abbas, a Uyghur-American activist, founder and director of the Campaign for Uyghurs. After she spoke out against China’s repression of Uyghurs last year, her aunt and sister disappeared. Her aunt has since been released, but there’s still no news on her sister. I started by asking Adrian Zenz what he found in his research.
ADRIAN ZENZ: My findings are very disturbing, and they really point to an urgent campaign on the side of the Chinese in Xinjiang to handle and deal with the fallout of having detained so many Turkic minority adults, especially Uyghurs, in the region of Xinjiang. And what they’re doing now is that, with so many cases of both parents in detention, the children are being put up into boarding facilities. There’s been a multibillion-dollar campaign to construct boarding schools that go all the way down to kindergarten, and, most recently, even a drive to establish nurseries for smaller kids, for infants, in satellite factories in villages, where they are putting women to work.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Adrian, can you give us a sense—you said a multibillion-dollar campaign. Who’s funding this campaign?
ADRIAN ZENZ: This is funded by Beijing. Xinjiang is traditionally a fairly poor region, even though it has mineral resources. But about 80% of the budget of Xinjiang is actually funded by Beijing, especially the security, the police, the technology, and, of course, the internment campaign.
AMY GOODMAN: Can we step back for a moment, and you tell us—place the Uyghur community for us. Tell us who they are, how many people are there, and how these policies, what you’re calling cultural genocide, evolved and were put into place.
ADRIAN ZENZ: The Uyghurs are 11 to 12 million strong, so almost twice as many as Tibetans. They are a Turkic people, much more similar in language, culture and religion to the Turks and other Central Asians. And most of them are Muslim. And they have many more similarities to Central Asia than to Beijing. That’s also the trouble. They feel distinct. They don’t necessarily feel that they belong to China. Mao Zedong invaded the area in 1949 with his armies.
Now the trouble is that Beijing has been trying to govern this region and integrate these people into the Chinese country and into the Chinese language and culture, but the Uyghurs have been resisting this, at times also with violent attacks. Now the Chinese are launching an unprecedented campaign of putting possibly a million or more of the Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities into so-called re-education camps, where they’re being brainwashed and they’re being culturally assimilated. They’re being told not to believe in their religion. They’re being taught the Chinese language.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Adrian, you’ve said in a—you wrote a recent piece for The New York Times saying that the Chinese Communist Party’s current re-education drive is an “upgraded version of the Cultural Revolution.” So, I’d like you to talk about that, and also that Xi Jinping’s government, the ultimate goal of this government is to exercise, quote, “complete ideological supremacy.” Could you elaborate on that and explain what some of the reasons are that Uyghurs can be detained? I mean, you say in the piece it includes things like putting too much gas in one’s car, refusing to smoke in public, or receiving phone calls from relatives overseas.
ADRIAN ZENZ: Yes, a very good question. In order to understand what’s really going on, we need to zoom out to the wider picture. The Chinese Communist Party is really waging a war against any competing ideology, especially organized religions. This includes Islam, it includes Christianity, but, to an increasing extent, also indigenous Chinese religions. In the Cultural Revolution in the 1970s, the Communist Party really tried to eradicate traditional belief, traditional customs, traditional culture, and especially religious belief. It was very messy. It was very uncoordinated.
What we are now seeing, under President Xi Jinping, is a very sophisticated, well-funded and technologically advanced campaign to control ethnic minorities, religious believers, including house churches. Minorities, such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, are now living in a virtual police state, where you have cameras on every street corner, where you have artificial intelligence, huge data streams, flowing into databases that are being used for predictive policing, to think this person is behaving different than they behaved yesterday. There’s examples of people who didn’t enter through the front door, but, the house, through the back door, and then this flags an alert at the police station. This is an unprecedented now internment campaign in Xinjiang, worse than ever in the history of China. And it’s the largest incarceration of a particular ethnic minority since the Holocaust.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Adrian, I mean, it is remarkable that this crackdown is occurring at the same time as China is investing so heavily in Muslim countries through their Belt and Road Initiative. Thirty-seven countries have written to the U.N. in support of China’s policies in Xinjiang. It’s especially striking that no Muslim country has signed the other letter protesting the treatment of the Uyghur population, but a number of Muslim countries have signed a letter, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, supporting the policies against the Uyghur community. So, could you talk about this initiative by Xi Jinping and the increasing dependence of a number of countries, Muslim countries included and countries across Africa, on China, both for aid as well as trade?
ADRIAN ZENZ: China has been waiting for a long time, I believe, to step up to the international stage and to take up what it believes to be its rightful place. China, by name, is called Zhongguo in Chinese, which means the middle country or the middle kingdom. It used to be the center of its world, and it seeks to be that again.
The Communist Party is really embarking on an unprecedented global influence campaign, with the ultimate goal of ensuring its own long-term survival. It does that by exerting unprecedented influence in the world, particularly in the developing world. If you look at the letter and the counterletter, the letter supporting China’s atrocities in Xinjiang was mostly signed by developing countries, and, as you said, many of them Muslim-majority countries, were basically betraying their Muslim brothers, the Uyghurs and the Kazakhs in Xinjiang. The other counterletter was mostly signed by Western nations. And China was proudly boasting, “Look, we have isolated the West. The West has no clout over these developing countries, but we have garnered the support of 37 countries, most of them developing nations.” if you want to further your reading please follow link blow. follow this link to reach original source.