BEG: We cannot ignore oppression, torture of Uighur Muslims

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BEG: We cannot ignore oppression, torture of Uighur Muslims

The Chinese government has put an estimated 800,000 to 2 million  Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Photo via Flickr.

The Chinese government has put an estimated 800,000 to 2 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Photo via Flickr.

The Chinese government has put an estimated 800,000 to 2 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Photo via Flickr.

The Chinese government has put an estimated 800,000 to 2 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps. Photo via Flickr.

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Another genocide is occurring right in front of our eyes, and no one is taking action. People remain silent as the Chinese minority group of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang are oppressed, forced into concentration camps and tortured.

The Uighurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group who mostly reside in the Chinese region Xinjiang.

Muslim world leaders are afraid of losing economic support from the Chinese Communist Party. Tahir Imin, the founder of Uighur Times, said people do not fear God but rather fear the power of the Chinese Communist Party. They have no courage to stand up for what is right.

When China was confronted by the United Nations, the European Union and the Humans Rights Watch to stop the torture of these Uighur Muslims, the Chinese government claimed the concentration camps were “vocational training centers,” which do not infringe upon any human right and provide job skills to those who volunteered, according to the New York Times. 

However, this is not the reality.

Since April 2017, an estimated 800,000 to 2 million Uighurs and other ethnic Muslim groups have been detained in the concentration camps. The other 11 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang continue to experience turmoil through government crackdowns and harsh restrictions on basic rights.

In the camps, the Chinese Muslims are forced to renounce and deny any allegiance to Islam. They must pledge to the Communist Party and learn Mandarin. The Muslims are placed in prison-like conditions, and every move is monitored through security cameras and microphones. Women are sexually abused and some are forced to put contraceptive devices inside of their bodies.

Even further, the Chinese government is killing them and harvesting their organs. These innocent individuals are being cut open while they are still alive.

The government’s actions are inhumane and disgusting. There is no justification for the utter torture of these Muslims.

Outside the camps, China passes laws that restrict Uighurs from having long beards or wearing veils, both significant aspects of the Muslim faith. Women are forced into marriages with Chinese men. Mosques are destroyed. People are not allowed to fast. Uighurs are restricted from choosing certain names for their babies. Police closely monitor these people by searching cell phones, scanning their identification and taking their photographs.

The Chinese government justifies its decisions by claiming these 2 million civilians  communicated with people from countries which China deems “sensitive,” such as Turkey or Afghanistan. These individuals could have also been targeted because they attended a mosque or even texted Quranic verses.

China seems to be framing practicing Islam as a crime. China is denying the Uighurs freedom to practice their religion, a freedom which everyone should have no matter where one resides. China’s constitution states that it protects the freedom for anyone to believe or not believe in any religion and that it protects “normal religious activity,” yet this is clearly not being practiced everywhere in the country.

The government sees the group as a threat to the uniformity of China. The crackdowns and concentration camps are a way for China to eliminate any religious practices which delineate from the atheist ideologies and the government’s Chinese Han customs.

In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping held secret speeches in Xinjiang that supported the camps by falsely telling they prevent the “toxicity of religious extremism” and ensure that China will not be taken over by “Islamic extremists.”

Over a three-year period, 39 of the concentration camps tripled in size. The Chinese government is not, by any means, slowing down, and innocent civilians are being killed and tortured.

Although human rights organizations have condemned the actions of the Chinese government, countries can be doing a lot more to help.

In 2016, the United States got involved by blacklisting 28 Chinese organizations that are deemed to be affiliated with the abuse in Xinjiang.

Although this was a positive step, the United States was not influential enough to stop China.

The United States has a history of involving itself in international issues; due to the dire nature of the problem, intervention would be justified in this situation, and the U.S. must do so.

World leaders must call out and challenge Chinese President Xi Jinping. They should deny economic trade relations with China, especially from facilities that contribute to the abuse of these Muslims. The United States should also grant asylum and open its borders to those able to escape persecution.

Soon, future generations will question why we did not do enough to prevent another genocide. Enough people have died by the hands of the Chinese government. It is not enough to stand idly by and wait for change.

We must act now.

This story was written by Aminah Beg. She can be reached at aminah.beg@marquette.edu.

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