Hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims living in China’s Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province continue to suffer in the so-called “re-education” camps that are frighteningly similar to the labor camps run by the brutal North Korean regime as the world continues to watch in silence.
The purpose of these concentration camps goes far beyond disciplining the citizens for practicing their religion. They are not just designed to torture but to destroy all remnants of the Muslim culture and convert Uighurs to Atheism.
A new report published by the Human Rights Watch detailed the horrific torture and mistreatment the detainees reportedly suffered in the internment camps after being detained for the most outrageous reasons.
“I know of a guy … who was taken away for having set his watch to [the unofficial] Urumqi time – they say that’s what makes him suspicious for terrorism,” a former detainee identified only as Nur told the organization.
Setting clocks to Urumqi time, which is also called the Xinjiang time, is reportedly considered a form of resistance against the Communist Party as founder of modern China Mao Zedong combined all of the time zones in the country to boost “national unity.”
Urumqi time zone is two hours behind China Standard Time (CST).
“I know three restaurant owners [who] ran ‘Islamic’ restaurants – they got detained because they don’t allow smoking or drinking in their restaurants,” Nur continued. “[The authorities] are banning everything Islamic. Not to talk about your clothing, or your beard; they think many things show you have incorrect thoughts.”
That’s not it. Uighur Muslims have also been detained for offenses like talking too loudly, downloading e-books, taking pictures and having a friend or a family member living abroad, according to the report.
“When I was talking with people in the jail cell I heard the police are recovering their computer files and jailing them for religious stuff,” the former detainee revealed. “There was a 21-year-old who went to Egypt to study Arabic. There was a guy who got [convicted and imprisoned for] eight years – he said he had some e-books in Uyghur and he said the police counted that as religious materials, he was also convicted for teaching it to kids.”
Nur also recalled a 60-year-old man who was sentenced to six years in detention after he reportedly sent an audio of Islamic religious teachings to his daughter, who then forwarded it to a friend. The daughter also got three years for the alleged “crime.”
“I met people who … have friends who have gone to Australia or Turkey or [places] outside China. It’s not even that they have close relatives abroad. Having friends or neighbors who have gone abroad [is enough to get detained],” Nur told the Human Rights Watch. “[T]hey are detained without reasons. Like… because he told his neighbor that they shouldn’t drink because they are Muslims. That got reported to the “shequ” [neighborhood] office, and the man is detained. Or another person got detained because he had spoken too loudly to an official.”
The harrowing report also highlighted the pain and suffering these civilians had to go through in the so-called political education camps.
“Nobody can move because they watch you through the video cameras, and after a while a voice came from the speakers telling you that now you can relax for a few minutes,” said a former detainee identified as Rustam. “That voice also tells you off for moving…we were watched, even in the toilet. In political education camp, we were always under stress.”
Nur had an even more traumatic experience.
“They put me in a small solitary confinement cell,” he recalled. “In a space of about 2x2 meters I was not given any food or drink, my hands were handcuffed in the back, and I had to stand for 24 hours without sleep.”
Unfortunately, the plight of nearly 11 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in China has mostly gone unnoticed – thanks to the communist regime’s harsh media censorship.
“The Chinese government is committing human rights abuses in Xinjiang on a scale unseen in the country in decades,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “The campaign of repression in Xinjiang is key test of whether the United Nations and concerned governments will sanction an increasingly powerful China to end this abuse.”
She also slammed Beijing for denying the allegations of human rights abuse against the minority community.
“The pain and anguish of families torn apart, with no knowledge of what’s happened to their loved ones stands in stark contrast to Beijing’s claims that Turkic Muslims are ‘happy’ and ‘grateful,’” Richardson added. “A failure to urgently press for an end to these abuses will only embolden Beijing.”
Officials in Xinjiang province have also restricted parents from choosing Muslim-sounding names for their children – including Mecca, Saddam, Hajj, Islam and Medina. They have shut down mosques, banned the Quran and forbidden Muslim men to grow beard as instructed by their faith.
Moreover, the vehicles owned by the Muslim minority have also reportedly been fitted with GPS tracking devices to keep an eye on their movements and whereabouts.
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