Erasing a Religion: A How-To by China

Currently the Chinese Communist Party is trying to remove the religion, culture, and beliefs away from the Uighur people in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has forced Uiguhrs into “vocational camps” to try to get them to abandon their way of life. Originally other countries overlooked this violation because there had been many terrorist attacks around the globe as ISIS grew in power. However now that the caliphate has lost its power, the world’s attention has turned to question the treatment of the Uighurs. In 2019, China changed tactics and decided to allow reporters and government officials to tour these camps. Except from reporters from countries trying to appease China, the reporters came to a consensus that the Uighurs were not in camps willingly.

Currently, there are about 1 million Uighurs in these camps. Once in these camps there is no telling when the Uighur can leave, and the Uighur has no contact with the outside world. The Chinese government has called these camps “vocational training centers”, but they have been more appropriately nicknamed “reeducation camps” by the media. Outside of the camps many police officers stop people regularly to check their identification and make sure they have a certain app downloaded on their phones. This app allows the authorities to listen in on phone conversations. Each street has a poster of all the residents with points below their names. These points determine the “reliablity” of the citizen, meaning are they doing anything remotely Muslim: such as reading the Quran, giving money to family overseas, or travelling overseas for any number of reasons. A lower score results in more house searches or being put into a camp. Chinese government officials are forced to stay with Uighur families for at least five nights every two months and are forced to be “members of the family”. The children are questioned during school about their parents’ religion, and if their answer has anything to do with Islam, the parents are put into a camp. Many children have been put into orphanages because their parents have been put into camps. In these orphanages and schools, the teachers attempt to extinguish Uighur culture. One article mentions a long ago attempt at “Hanification”. It failed because the teachers could only educate the children during the day, but at night time the parents taught their children the Uighur culture. Currently the Chinese might have a chance to wipe out Uighurs culture because they have separated the children from the parents. In 2016, China began the “Mosque Rectification Program”. They demolished mosques, shrines, cemeteries, domes, and minarets. The author touches on how mosques are seen by the Uighurs as God’s home, and without these places the Uighurs are “religiously homeless”. They have also been destroying the homes of the Uighurs under the pretense that the building construction is unsafe, but winding streets of Uighur neighborhoods were harder to monitor. The Chinese government also persecutes any Uighur critics inside or out of the country. Radio Free Asia devotes a lot of airtime to the situation in Xinjiang. Uighurs who have escaped Xinjiang are trying to spread awareness about the oppression. In return the Chinese government puts their family members into camps, prison, or Uighurs disappear.

The main issue in solving this crisis is the influence of China. Not many countries want to speak up against China and risk losing trade or money from them. So when, at the United Nations conference, twenty-two countries came together to condemn China for human rights violations, no country took the lead. Then China got thirty-seven countries to side with China and argued that China was doing the right thing to eliminate “terrorists”. The United States could pass the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act to combat the treatment of the Uighurs. This act would mean that the region must be reported on yearly and that a new State Department member be added, solely focusing on the Uighurs. This would embarrass China, but it also might make them respond more readily than a quiet discussion would.

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