The Communist Chinese dictatorship is reportedly holding over a million Muslim Uighurs (also spelled Uyghurs) in “counter-extremism centers” in the Western province of Xinjiang, according to evidence presented at a United Nations committee hearing in Geneva last week. Some two to three million victims are said to be in cultural and political “re-education” camps, too. One UN expert said the regime had turned the vast Xinjiang region into what resembles a “massive internment camp” where people have no rights. Revelations surrounding the reported mass internment of ethnic and religious minorities coincided with a broader initiative by Beijing to suppress all religions that are not controlled by the Communist Party of China, ranging from Christians and Muslims to Falun Gong practitioners. Top U.S. officials are also sounding the alarm.
The explosive accusations, which made headlines around the world, came on August 10 during the opening session on China of the UN “Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination” (CERD). “We are deeply concerned at the many numerous and credible reports that we have received that in the name of combating religious extremism and maintaining social stability (China) has changed the Uighur autonomous region into something that resembles a massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy, a sort of ‘no-rights zone,’” said vice chair of the UN committee Gay McDougall, adding that most of those in detention had not been convicted or even charged with a crime.
McDougall, a far-left American activist, noted that Uighurs and other Muslims in China were being treated as “enemies of the state” due only to their ethno-religious identity. She also pointed to evidence that the regime was persecuting people merely for using Muslim greetings, wearing head coverings, having long beards, or possessing halal food, according to media reports. And finally, she cited reports that Beijing has been stealing DNA from millions of people in the region and compiling a massive database, combined with an unprecedented level of police-state surveillance. Even relatives of journalists who have reported on the mass incarceration in Xinjiang have been rounded up by the regime, multiple sources said.
In the re-education camps, former detainees told the Associated Press that they were forced to denounce their faith and declare their submission to the Communist Party instead. “Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees in far western China’s new indoctrination camps had to disavow their Islamic beliefs, criticize themselves and their loved ones and give thanks to the ruling Communist Party,” the AP reported in May. When the man refused, he was put in solitary confinement, deprived of food, forced to stand at a wall for hours on end, and more, until he was finally ready to commit suicide after just a few weeks.
Another UN panel member, Yemhelhe Mint Mohamed, blasted what she described as the “arbitrary and mass detention of almost one million Uighurs.” Speaking to the 50-member delegation from the Communist Chinese dictatorship present at the meeting, Mohamed also asked about broader religious freedom issues. “What is the level of religious freedom available now to Uighurs in China?” she asked. “What legal protection exists for them to practice their religion?” Of course, the answer is none.
Outside of China, Uighur activists were relieved to see the issue getting attention. “I’m extremely pleased with the UN CERD Committee for raising these important issues with the Chinese delegation,” said Dolkun Isa, the president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC). “This has given us more faith in the work of the committee … and I am glad to see that the extrajudicial detention of some 1 million Uyghurs has received the attention of the UN.” Isa noted that the Chinese regime would “play word games” and lie in response. “It is my hope that the U.N. CERD Committee members will not be fooled by these maneuvers and instead get to the bottom of these issues with real answers and solutions,” he added.
The U.S. government expressed serious concerns, too. In a social-media post about the hearing and the accusations that millions were being “re-educated” in communist camps, the U.S. government mission to the UN called for it to stop. “We remain deeply troubled by reports of an ongoing crackdown on Uighurs and other Muslims in China,” the U.S. mission said on Twitter. “We call on China to end their counterproductive policies and free all of those who have been arbitrarily detained.”
In Washington, prominent lawmakers were also speaking out. In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the co-chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, asked for action. “Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the XUAR [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region] have been subjected to arbitrary arrest, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digitized surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored,” they said. “There are credible media reports that as many as 500,000 to a million people are or have been detained in what are being called ‘political education centers,’ the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”
The two lawmakers also raised concerns about the regime’s arrest of the family members of reporters working for the U.S. government-backed Radio Free Asia. “These detentions serve to intimidate the families of U.S. government employees and undermine some of the most effective reporting from the XUAR, a region which is increasingly off limits to international reporters, members of civil society and diplomats,” they wrote. “If there is no immediate resolution of these cases, we ask that the State Department consider denying visas to executives or administrative staff of Chinese-run state media operating in the United States.”
As usual, Communist Chinese functionaries denied the reports, saying that there is “no such thing as re-education centers” in Xinjiang. In response, Chinese Human Rights Defenders posted photos on Twitter showing one of the camps. “What about ‘de-extremism education reform center’ or ‘correction concentration education base’ as shown in this photo?” asked the group. “Evidences of mass incarceration are undeniable.” The group also posted a photo of a seemingly empty village, saying the “residents have been disappeared” and urged investigators to go see for themselves.
Virtually every Chinese delegate parroted variations of the same script. “The argument that one million Uighurs are detained in re-education centers is completely untrue,” said Ma Youqing, one of 50 high-level communist officials to respond to the committee. “There is neither deliberate targeting at a particular ethnic minority, nor suppressing or restricting the rights or the freedom of religious belief of the Uighur people.”
Another Communist Chinese delegate, Hu Lianhe, also denied that there were re-education centers or that anyone's religious freedom was being violated. But right after that, he admitted that “those who are deceived by religious extremism … shall be assisted through resettlement and education.” In other words, if the regime decides your religious views are extreme — and according to the regime, not being a communist is extreme — then you can be subject to forced relocation and indoctrination at gunpoint.
Communist Party of China mouthpiece Global Times put out a cryptic editorial blasting the “West” for its concerns. “There is no doubt that the current peace and stability in Xinjiang is partly due to the high intensity of regulations. Police and security posts can be seen everywhere in Xinjiang,” the editorial said, praising the “strong ruling power of the Communist Party of China” for allegedly maintaining stability. “Xinjiang is at a special stage of development where there is no room for destructive Western public opinions. Peace and stability must come above all else. With this as the goal, all measures can be tried.”
Of course, UN “experts” are notoriously unreliable. Many of them are actual Socialists or even Marxists. And the UN CERD is outrageous, even by UN standards. For instance, last year, the UN committee issued an “early warning” against America. As part of that, it declared that the U.S. government must ban certain speech, regardless of the First Amendment or the inalienable right to free speech, to be in compliance with the UN “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.” McDougall, the UN expert who first raised the concerns, also has baggage. Among her many troubling affiliations are ties to the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), an outfit that was exposed as a Soviet KGB front by Czech intelligence defector Ladislav Bittman and others.
Ironically, just last year, the UN “human rights” apparatus came under fire for aiding and abetting the Chinese regime's efforts to silence anyone who would expose its crimes. As The New American documented at the time, the UN handed to Beijing the names of activists who were set to expose the regime's crimes at a UN review of China's record. One of the dissidents in question ultimately died in detention. At least several others whose identities were provided to the regime by UN officials were detained ahead of their trips to Geneva. And then, making matters worse, the UN “human rights” leadership retaliated against the UN whistleblower who exposed and stopped the whole sordid affair.
While the Communist Chinese dictatorship engages in barbaric oppression, including forced abortions and organ harvesting from dissidents, it has also quietly seized control over huge swaths of the architecture of “global governance.” Chinese Communist agents now run multiple UN agencies, and even INTERPOL, the self-styled global “law-enforcement” body. And already, the brutal dictatorship is abusing this power to advance totalitarianism at home and abroad as it pursues what it calls a “New World Order.” The regime is also building up a powerful “China Lobby” in Washington.
But unfortunately for the victims of the savage dictatorship, which has murdered more people than any other in history, relying on the UN to protect one's “human rights” is tantamount to hoping a fox will protect the rights of the hens in the hen house. Rather than waiting for the dictator-dominated UN, Americans should demand that Congress quit enabling and propping up Beijing via suicidal trade policies and other insanity. The globalist establishment, including the Council on Foreign Relations, has been building up the regime in China for decades. It is time for Americans aiding and abetting Beijing's savagery to be held accountable.