Under Chinese Rule: Uyghurs in China Face Brutal Conditions Under the Chinese Government

The+East+Turkestan+flag+has+been+used+by+the+Uyghur+community+to+protest+the+mistreatment+they+have+faced+at+the+hands+of+the+Chinese+government.+

Megan Snyder

The East Turkestan flag has been used by the Uyghur community to protest the mistreatment they have faced at the hands of the Chinese government.

By Eldon Nichols, La Salle Catholic Preparatory High School

Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group mainly located in China, are currently being held against their will in internment camps operated by the Chinese government. Though the Chinese government claims that these camps are “re-educating” the Uyghur population, this is far from the truth.

In the Xinjiang region of China, police officers have been reportedly arresting Uyghurs in the middle of the night to be sent to internment camps. The Chinese government brands these camps as “re-education” centers, concealing what is really going on at the places where Uyghurs are being held.

Interviews conducted by Vice News showed just a fraction of what was happening in these camps. “Because I studied the Qur’an and learned Arabic,” one ex-detainee said, “They said that I’d tried to corrupt others’ ideology and divide the country.”

Another Uyghur was detained for opening a Uyghur language school and put in the internment camp for 15 months. 

Not only that, ex-detainees reportedly were coerced into admitting they were terrorists.

An investigation conducted by Vice News revealed the darkest parts of the concentration camps in Xinjiang. It’s far from conventional education.

Uyghurs before every meal had to sing songs in order to eat. They sang, “Without the Communist Party, there won’t be a new China. The Communist Party toiled for the nation,” one of the ex-detainees said. And if you don’t sing the songs, you get tortured. This is certainly not re-education. This is poisoning the Uyghur community with egregious propaganda. 

“Their main purpose is creating communist robots,” an ex-detainee said about the internment camps, “Changing our culture and religion into their format.” 

The Chinese communist party is trying to rewire the Uyghurs to think a certain way and unfairly treat the vanishing Uyghur community in an attempt to change their morals, culture, religion, and opinions. 

Unfortunately, kids are also subject to these disgusting internment camps as well. The Chinese government is again misbranding these camps by calling them “Kindergartens.”

Brick walls, metal fences, and guards surround the camp while children are kept inside against their will. In the Vice investigation, you can hear the Uyghur kids echo patriotic words similar to what the adult Uyghurs have to sing. “I will protect the unification of the Motherland and unity among ethnicities,” is what you can hear kids uniformly singing from inside the brick walls. 

The Chinese government is raising the kids to think in a way that benefits the state, not the children.

This is certainly not education, this is poison.

China is taking advantage of its great amount of power to dehumanize and eliminate the small Uyghur community.

There is one easy thing we can do as a response to the mistreatment of the Uyghur people. 

Boycotting. 

With the Winter Olympics taking place in Beijing in 2022, tensions are high between China and multiple other countries. The US has been contemplating boycotting the event meaning the Olympians representing the US will not attend the Olympics. 

Many athletes are also standing up against the Chinese government, including a very vocal Enes Kanter Freedom, an NBA basketball player. Kanter has even called it “cultural genocide.” He also has multiple Twitter posts criticizing the leader of China, Xi Jinping. 

These actions are showing progress in spreading awareness around the cultural genocide the Chinese government is inflicting on the Uyghur community. Pressuring the Chinese government through boycotting the Olympics has the potential to change the way that Uyghurs are treated. 

Currently, the Chinese government is brutally mistreating the Uyghur population and systematically eliminating their culture. With the power China holds, it might seem that change is impossible, but as a part of the La Salle community, simply spreading awareness about this problem is an effective way to contribute to making progress on this critical issue.

Without widespread awareness, the potential willingness for countries to demonstrate their opposition to the mistreatment of Uyghurs, like the Beijing Olympics boycott, would be impossible. 

This story was originally published on The La Salle Falconer on December 1, 2021.