TFIPOST has been extensively covering the crisis of ethnic Muslims in China’s Xingjiang region. The world community has for reasons best known to them, decided not to speak out against China’s continued oppression of Uyghur Muslims in their territory. China’s all-weather ally Pakistan went on to defend China’s inhuman atrocities in Xinjiang, while claiming to be an ‘Islamic Republic’ themselves.
International media too has resisted from galvanizing public opinion against China’s totalitarian regime and inhuman oppression of ethnic Muslims. However, The New York Times has done a commendable job yesterday. In perhaps the most significant leak of the decade, NYT has published secret Chinese government documents, which run into several hundred pages. These documents reveal how the Chinese state, under the direct guidance of Xi Jinping, turned the Xinjiang province into a jail.
Over the past three years, China has detained over a million ethnic Kazakh and Uyghur Muslims into what they claim are ‘internment camps’. In these detention camps however, all the victims of China’s oppression are indoctrinated with the Communist ideology, and loyalty to the party. They further ‘de-radicalize’ Muslims, irrespective of whether they were ever radicalized or not. The criteria for detention usually is: possession of the Quran, an over-the neck beard, non-consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, etc. According to the Chinese state, if anyone acts in accordance to these conditions, he/she is a ‘radical’ and potential ‘Islamic terrorist’.
In the leaked documents, there are some key observations made:
- Firstly, the directives given to officials to ‘handle’ students who ask about the whereabouts of their missing family.
- Secondly, Xi Jinping’s direct role in this ruthless campaign to lock up Muslims. It further exposes how this campaign is a personal fantasy for the man.
- Thirdly, that among the Communist party itself, there is growing resentment against this clampdown and continued offensive in Xinjiang.
- Finally, global terrorist attacks and the reduction of American troops in Afghanistan laid the foundation of this brazen policy of China towards Muslims.
In an advisory for government officials, the duplicity of the Chinese state is exposed. The directive is issued for the purpose of convincing the minority students that their families are safe and in ‘internment’ and ‘skill training’ camps, receiving treatment against a ‘virus’ called ‘Islam’. In the summer of 2017, as students returned to the Xinjiang province for their vacations, they found their families missing, and the fields unattended for long. This raised obvious doubts in their minds. The directive stated ways in which the officials should address the concerns of the students. It recommended that the police officers remain in civil clothes and take experienced local officials with them to “show humane concern and stress the rules”. At first, officials are advised to deal gently with the students. However, if the students ask further probing questions, the officials were to give stern replies and fool them into believing that their conduct would in some way influence the ‘scoring’ of their family members, and that it was therefore in their best interest to keep shut and cooperate with authorities. If not an outright large-scale violation of Human rights against Muslims, what else is it?
The most important aspect which these leaked documents throw light on, is that this dictatorial forced detention of Uyghur Muslims is the brainchild of the Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Among the 403 page-documents which have been leaked, approximately 96 pages are of Xi’s speeches given to his officials and party workers. Xi Jinping visited Xinjiang in 2014, for the first and the last time. The period of his visit was marred by violence and killings. Two Uyghur militants carried out a suicide bombing outside a train station on the last day of his visit to Xinjiang. 81 people were injured in the incident. Earlier, militants stabbed about 175 people, which resulted in the death of 31. A month after the visit, militants hurled explosives into a vegetable market, wounding 94 people and killing 39. Faced with such violence, Xi Jinping took the fight against terrorism personally, and went on a rampage, delivering hardcore speeches against terrorism and the menace of extremist Islam. The NYT has quoted sections of these speeches, such as:
“We must be as harsh as them and show absolutely no mercy.”
“None of these weapons(China’s previous anti-terrorism policy) is any answer for their (Uighur’) big machete blades, ax heads and cold steel weapons.”
He also revealed his idea of waging a “people’s war” in the region. He further called upon his party to “unleash the tools of dictatorship to eradicate radical Islam in Xinjiang.” He then compared religious extremism to drugs, saying that it is an addictive and makes people go crazy.
In light of such statements by the Chinese President, and the subsequent detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, it is more than evident that the fight against Islam for Xi is a personal one. It must be remembered that communism as an ideology is hateful towards religion. Karl Marx too referred to religion as the ‘opium’ of the masses. We know what Xi is coming from when he compares Islam and extremism on similar lines. Irrespective of whether one is an extremist or not, Xi Jingping’s China is detaining Muslims at an unprecedented scale, on flimsy grounds.
His predecessor Hu Jintao, who after the 2009 Urumqi riots also effected a clampdown, but also simultaneously stressed on economic development as a cure for ethnic discontent. However, Xi Jinping’s detention plan marks a clear departure from the party’s longstanding policy, as he has openly mentioned that economic growth is not a deterrent to religious extremism among Muslims.
The leaked documents show how China has been laying the groundwork for these mass detentions since 2014. While Human Rights’ activists around the world scream their lungs out on petty issues, they are maintaining a stunning silence on the large scale detentions of Uighur Muslims by China. The world community must rise up in one voice and send a clear message to China to end this blatant war on its own people.