What's Really Going On in China

By Isabella Canale

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Holocaust‌ ‌Pt.2‌ 

What’s‌ ‌Really‌ ‌Going‌ ‌On‌ ‌in‌ ‌China’s‌ ‌Concentration‌ ‌Camps‌ ‌


History‌ ‌always‌ ‌seems‌ ‌to‌ ‌repeat‌ ‌itself,‌ ‌doesn’t‌ ‌it?‌ ‌Almost‌ ‌90‌ ‌years‌ ‌ago,‌ ‌the‌ ‌first‌ ‌Nazi‌ ‌

concentration‌ ‌camps‌ ‌were‌ ‌established‌ ‌and‌ ‌in‌ ‌2016,‌ ‌China‌ ‌started‌ ‌establishing‌ ‌internment‌ ‌and‌ ‌

prison‌ ‌camps.‌ ‌Chinese‌ ‌officials‌ ‌deny‌ ‌all‌ ‌claims‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌concentration‌ ‌camps‌ ‌and‌ ‌claim‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌

camps‌ ‌act‌ ‌as‌ ‌“vocational‌ ‌educational‌ ‌schools,”‌ ‌however,‌ ‌investigations‌ ‌from‌ ‌Buzzfeed‌ ‌News‌ ‌

give‌ ‌insight‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌actual‌ ‌happenings‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌camps,‌ ‌with‌ ‌stories‌ ‌from‌ ‌ex-prisoners.‌ ‌

In‌ ‌2016,‌ ‌Chinese‌ ‌police‌ ‌officers‌ ‌started‌ ‌detaining‌ ‌Uighurs‌ ‌and‌ ‌Kazakhs‌ ‌(‌Turkic‌ ‌ethnic‌ ‌

muslims)‌‌ ‌‌in‌ ‌China,‌ ‌into‌ ‌internment‌ ‌camps.‌ ‌Victims‌ ‌recalled‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌officers‌ ‌showed‌ ‌up‌ ‌either‌ ‌at‌ ‌

their‌ ‌work‌ ‌or‌ ‌home‌ ‌(usually‌ ‌at‌ ‌night)‌ ‌and‌ ‌claimed‌ ‌the‌ ‌victim‌ ‌was‌ ‌being‌ ‌taken‌ ‌to‌ ‌a‌ ‌medical‌ ‌

examination.‌ ‌After‌ ‌being‌ ‌handcuffed,‌ ‌blindfolded,‌ ‌and‌ ‌given‌ ‌a‌ ‌thorough‌ ‌medical‌ ‌examination,‌ ‌

they‌ ‌were‌ ‌given‌ ‌interviews,‌ ‌consisting‌ ‌of‌ ‌questions‌ ‌based‌ ‌on‌ ‌their‌ ‌past‌ ‌travels,‌ ‌religious‌ ‌beliefs,‌ ‌

and‌ ‌practices.‌ ‌After‌ ‌hours‌ ‌of‌ ‌interviews,‌ ‌being‌ ‌forced‌ ‌to‌ ‌sign‌ ‌documents‌ ‌they‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌

understand,‌ ‌and‌ ‌giving‌ ‌up‌ ‌their‌ ‌phones,‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌told‌ ‌they‌ ‌would‌ ‌be‌ ‌gone‌ ‌for‌ ‌ten‌ ‌days‌ ‌for‌ ‌

some‌ ‌“education.”‌ ‌

The‌ ‌given‌ ‌“education”‌ ‌is‌ ‌abuse,‌ ‌humiliation,‌ ‌and‌ ‌starvation.‌ ‌Victims‌ ‌are‌ ‌forced‌ ‌to‌ ‌cut‌ ‌or‌ ‌

shave‌ ‌their‌ ‌hair‌ ‌(for‌ ‌most‌ ‌women,‌ ‌it‌ ‌was‌ ‌their‌ ‌first‌ ‌time‌ ‌cutting‌ ‌their‌ ‌hair‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌life),‌ ‌remove‌ ‌all‌ ‌

clothing‌ ‌and‌ ‌jewelry,‌ ‌sleep‌ ‌in‌ ‌cramped‌ ‌quarters‌ ‌with‌ ‌strangers,‌ ‌and‌ ‌eat‌ ‌insufficient‌ ‌amounts‌ ‌of‌ ‌

food.‌ ‌At‌ ‌the‌ ‌beginning‌ ‌of‌ ‌recruitment,‌ ‌China‌ ‌was‌ ‌rapidly‌ ‌bringing‌ ‌more‌ ‌and‌ ‌more‌ ‌detainees‌ ‌each‌ ‌

day,‌ ‌minimizing‌ ‌space‌ ‌in‌ ‌these‌ ‌camps.‌ ‌In‌ ‌the‌ ‌meantime,‌ ‌old‌ ‌schools‌ ‌and‌ ‌government-owned‌ ‌

buildings‌ ‌held‌ ‌the‌ ‌victims,‌ ‌until‌ ‌2017,‌ ‌when‌ ‌construction‌ ‌started‌ ‌on‌ ‌more‌ ‌prisons.‌ ‌The‌ ‌prisoners‌ ‌

would‌ ‌soon‌ ‌be‌ ‌held‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌prisons‌ ‌they‌ ‌constructed‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌form‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌unpaid‌ ‌labor‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌

forced‌ ‌to‌ ‌do.‌ ‌When‌ ‌they‌ ‌weren’t‌ ‌attempting‌ ‌to‌ ‌sleep,‌ ‌work,‌ ‌or‌ ‌being‌ ‌put‌ ‌into‌ ‌solitary‌ ‌

confinement,‌ ‌China‌ ‌enforced‌ ‌actual‌ ‌education.‌ ‌

Some‌ ‌victims‌ ‌said‌ ‌that‌ ‌they‌ ‌would‌ ‌go‌ ‌to‌ ‌classrooms‌ ‌to‌ ‌study‌ ‌Chinese‌ ‌and‌ ‌Communist‌ ‌

Party‌ ‌propaganda,‌ ‌while‌ ‌others‌ ‌said‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌told‌ ‌there‌ ‌wasn’t‌ ‌enough‌ ‌room‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌

classrooms,‌ ‌therefore,‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌forced‌ ‌to‌ ‌study‌ ‌in‌ ‌their‌ ‌cells‌ ‌with‌ ‌cameras‌ ‌watching.‌ ‌The‌ ‌

prisoners‌ ‌received‌ ‌a‌ ‌single‌ ‌stool‌ ‌upon‌ ‌arrival‌ ‌for‌ ‌their‌ ‌study‌ ‌sessions.‌ ‌They‌ ‌recall‌ ‌being‌ ‌yelled‌ ‌at‌ ‌

through‌ ‌speakers‌ ‌for‌ ‌improper‌ ‌posture‌ ‌or‌ ‌removing‌ ‌their‌ ‌hands‌ ‌from‌ ‌their‌ ‌knees‌ ‌while‌ ‌studying.‌ ‌

Punishments‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌camp‌ ‌range‌ ‌from‌ ‌beatings‌ ‌to‌ ‌solitary‌ ‌confinement‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌10‌ ‌ft‌ ‌x‌ ‌10‌ ‌ft‌ ‌dark‌ ‌

room.‌ ‌

Victims‌ ‌were‌ ‌never‌ ‌officially‌ ‌arrested,‌ ‌but‌ ‌were‌ ‌told‌ ‌they‌ ‌were‌ ‌being‌ ‌held‌ ‌for‌ ‌reasons‌ ‌

such‌ ‌as‌ ‌having‌ ‌too‌ ‌many‌ ‌kids,‌ ‌downloading‌ ‌WhatsApp‌ ‌(banned‌ ‌in‌ ‌China),‌ ‌traveling‌ ‌abroad,‌ ‌and‌ ‌

engaging‌ ‌in‌ ‌prayer.‌ ‌In‌ ‌the‌ ‌camps,‌ ‌women‌ ‌forcefully‌ ‌received‌ ‌birth‌ ‌control,‌ ‌abortions,‌ ‌and‌ ‌

pregnancy‌ ‌checks‌ ‌in‌ ‌an‌ ‌attempt‌ ‌to‌ ‌cut‌ ‌off‌ ‌the‌ ‌population‌ ‌of‌ ‌Uighurs‌ ‌and‌ ‌Kazakhs,‌ ‌also‌ ‌know‌ ‌as‌ ‌

genocide.‌ ‌If‌ ‌released,‌ ‌prisoners‌ ‌are‌ ‌put‌ ‌on‌ ‌house‌ ‌arrest,‌ ‌forced‌ ‌to‌ ‌never‌ ‌speak‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ ‌

experiences,‌ ‌and‌ ‌possibly‌ ‌told‌ ‌to‌ ‌move‌ ‌to‌ ‌Kazakhstan.‌ ‌Released‌ ‌victims‌ ‌still‌ ‌live‌ ‌in‌ ‌fear‌ ‌for‌ ‌not‌ ‌

only‌ ‌themselves‌ ‌but‌ ‌their‌ ‌entire‌ ‌family,‌ ‌as‌ ‌they‌ ‌could‌ ‌be‌ ‌killed‌ ‌or‌ ‌imprisoned‌ ‌as‌ ‌well.‌ ‌China‌ ‌

Human‌ ‌Rights‌ ‌Defenders‌ ‌(CHRD)‌ ‌estimates‌ ‌about‌ ‌one‌ ‌million‌ ‌Uyghur‌ ‌Muslims‌ ‌being‌ ‌held‌ ‌in‌ ‌

camps,‌ ‌as‌ ‌of‌ ‌July‌ ‌2019.‌ ‌China’s‌ ‌control‌ ‌of‌ ‌citizens’‌ ‌media‌ ‌output‌ ‌has‌ ‌restricted‌ ‌much‌ ‌coverage‌ ‌

on‌ ‌the‌ ‌topic,‌ ‌but‌ ‌we‌ ‌must‌ ‌continue‌ ‌to‌ ‌expose‌ ‌the‌ ‌current‌ ‌situation,‌ ‌by‌ ‌sharing‌ ‌news‌ ‌and‌ ‌media‌ ‌

coverage‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌topic.‌ ‌ ‌

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