China: Muslim Concentration Camps Built to ‘Save the People’

A Muslim ethnic Uighur woman and her daughter try to cross the road as Chinese paramilitary police drive past near the closed Grand Bazaar in the ethnic Uighur area of Urumqi, in China's farwest Xinjiang region, on July 9, 2009. Riot police and soldiers kept a strong presence in China's …
PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty

The Chinese Foreign Minister erupted at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday for daring to condemn the communist empire for building concentration camps to punish its Muslim Uighur population, insisting the camps are necessary to “save the people.”

Reports using satellite imaging have revealed the construction of over 1,000 “re-education centers” in Xinjiang, China’s westernmost province, meant to house ethnic Uighur, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz Muslims. Survivors of the camps – a small number who have been able to leverage their ties to Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan to escape – say they are forced to memorize Communist Party propaganda, worship Xi Jinping, learn Mandarin, and eat pork. Many speak of torture, slavery, and evidence that China may be using its Uighur population for the live harvesting organs.

The U.S. government estimates that as many as 3 million were languishing in Xinjiang’s concentration camps as of this May.

Pompeo condemned the gross human rights abuses occurring in Xinjiang in a speech at Kansas State University last week.

“It is not the first time that US officials wantonly criticized China’s Xinjiang policy in total disregard of facts. That is flagrant interference in China’s internal affairs. We deplore and firmly oppose that,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday.

“By lawfully establishing those centers, the local government in Xinjiang aims to save the people who are deceived by or even have joined terrorist forces and committed minor offenses to help them get rid of extremist ideologies,” she claimed. “These measures are no different in nature from the de-radicalization and preventive counter-terrorism measures taken by many other countries.”

“Thanks to these measures, Xinjiang now enjoys social stability, sound economic momentum, harmony between ethnic groups and it has not seen a single terrorist attack in the past three years. People of all ethnic groups there support the government’s measures to fight terrorism and safeguard stability,” she alleged.

Hua also cited a letter signed by 50 countries with a financial stake in good relations with China expressing support for the camps, including Muslim countries deeply invested in the “Belt and Road Initiative” like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, as evidence that the camps are a legitimate approach to terrorism and not an atrocity of historic proportions.

Another 22 states not considered human rights abusers – including Canada, Japan, and Switzerland – issued their own letter condemning China.

“They commend the enormous achievements China has made in human rights, and believe Xinjiang’s counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures including the establishment of vocational education and training centers have effectively protected basic human rights,” Hua said of the rogue state support letter. “They urge the relevant countries to stop wantonly criticizing China.”

Hua concluded her rant by urging America to “abandon bias and the outdated Cold-War mindset.”

“Instead of fooling the world, the lies of American politicians will only further reveal their hidden political agenda,” she said.

In a speech on America’s role in promoting respect for fundamental human rights last week, Pompeo lamented that the world has “far too little agreement anymore on what an unalienable right truly is.”

“Just because a treaty or a law or some writing says it’s a right, it doesn’t make it an unalienable right. Remember where these rights came from,” Pompeo warned, using Xinjiang as an example.

“Over the past two years in Xinjiang, China – it’s a province in the western part of China – China has tried to brainwash coming on one million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.  It’s tried to get them to renounce their culture and their faith,” Pompeo said. “The Chinese Communist Party claims that the camps are meant to educate and to save people that have been influenced by religious extremism, and thus they make the claim that they’re trying to protect those individuals’ human rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Pompeo noted that China advocated for a resolution at the U.N. Homan Rights Council to “establish a code of silence about their massive human rights violations,” and only the United States stood up to their charade.

“Clearly, we must reclaim this tradition.  We must reclaim the tradition of unalienable rights from deliberate misunderstanding and, indeed, from cynical abuse,” Pompeo urged.

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, published a story Tuesday touting the letter from its allies sent to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s support for the camps.

“More people realize that people should be objective and open-minded in understanding the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang, as these centers represent a new path for the world to address both the symptom and root causes of terrorism,” the People’s Daily argued. “Such valuable experiences should be recognized and promoted, rather than being slandered and defamed.”

The best estimates by international human rights observers suggest that China began building concentration camps for Muslims in 2017 and populating them aggressively throughout 2018. In late 2018, an Associated Press report revealed that the camps were now outfitted with sweatshops, where the “re-educated” were forced into slave labor to manufacture cheap products then sold around the world, including in the United States.

In May, senior State Department official Randall Schriver told reporters that Washington estimates as many as 3 million people are currently enslaved in the camps, representing a threefold population increase in the camps in less than a year.

Survivors of the camps have told human rights monitors that they have seen actions compatible with live organ harvesting at the camp, including some of the youngest and healthiest “disappearing” from the camps after being distinguished with special bracelets.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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