Uighurs persecuted

Chris Cao, Staff editor

In modern history, it is unprecedented for nations to be silent when another nation violates human rights. Recently, however, the world has stayed mostly silent about China’s Uighur “re-education” camps. China—in desire to combat terrorism, pursue uniformity and gain natural resources—has breached the UN Declaration of Human Rights by imprisoning more than one million Uighurs, a Central Asian people, in order to eliminate their culture and religion.

The detainment started when the fear of Islamic radicals went mainstream in China. Reacting to 9/11 and other terrorist attacks, the government embarked on “Strike-Hard campaigns,” which cracked down on densely populated Muslim areas in China. BBC news has released satellite images of the Uighur camps, which have grown and have been expanded within the past 5 years. Reports and interviews with Uighur citizens reveal that all who pursue the Muslim religion, attend mosques or “create trouble” are imprisoned. Victim Kalida Akytkhan, when asking the Chinese government to return her detained son, lost her daughter-in-law the next day.

China claims that its camps are humane and teach Han culture (majority ethnic group). Foreign Minister Wang Yi defends the camps stating that they prevent terrorist activity. China hasn’t “had a single case of terrorism in 3 years. The education and training centers are schools that help the people free themselves from terrorism and extremism and acquire useful skills,” he reports. Victims of the camps say otherwise. Many report harassment, torture and malnourishment.

Why have nations stayed silent? Countries have not responded because of China’s global economic power. As the largest exporter in the world and trades with 214 nations, China is so vital to the economy that if China stops all exports, the world economy would collapse. Due to their dependencies on Chinese markets, SyndiGate researchers have found 14 Muslim nations to be outspoken in praises for China’s crackdown on terrorism.

Some nations, such as Turkey, have tried to criticize China but are outnumbered by the unwavering support from many nations, most of them being Muslim countries. The U.S. House of Representatives has also created action in the “Uighur Human Rights Policy Act,” which calls for U.S. government bodies such as the State Department or the Federal Bureau of Intelligence to give reports on China’s treatment of the Uighurs. These bodies are asked to learn more about the detainments, such as the number of individuals imprisoned and any propaganda on the topic. The act directly aligns with the analysis by Christopher Karwacki, a world history teacher at Dulaney High School. Karwacki states that “there’s just not enough information on this topic,” and that a “formal investigation and analysis is needed.”

Although few nations have offered up a response to the camps, responses open the pathway to more involvement and action by other nations: a step closer to action.