China detains Uighur Muslims in ‘re-education centers’

Due to a belief that the ethnic minority are ‘terrorists,’ the Chinese government has created detention facilities to hold Uighur Muslims.

By detaining millions of Uighur Muslims, the Chinese government wants to re-educate or detain any members of the ethnic and religious minority.
Uighur Muslims are a Turkic ethnic group that are native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region in China, and there are approximately 11 million located in Xinjiang alone.
China has been detaining Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities, like Kazakh Muslims, since as early as 2016, according to NPR.
“[Uighur Muslims] are going through a sort of conversion therapy,” junior Hagar Eldeeb said.
In these detention centers, Muslims are forced to learn Mandarin, are exposed to Chinese propaganda and are sometimes beaten.
The Chinese government has defended its actions as anti-terrorism measures, and has stated that the camps are for “re-education purposes.”
The Chinese government continues to deny any human rights violations.
“They are using the fear of terrorism in the world to justify what they are doing,” social studies teacher Nicole Harner said. “If they just outrightly kill people, then the world would notice, but if they are saying that they are terrorists and that they are re-educating them, no one will notice.”
According to The Associated Press, the Chinese government would use advanced surveillance systems and data to locate Uighur Muslims.
“They are taking a religious and ethnic minority and putting them into places where they are not in good conditions and they are not able to have certain necessities that they need,” junior Chloe Skinfill said. “They are viewing them as subhuman, and that is not at all okay.”
According to The New York Times, the Chinese government has also used Uighur Muslims as test subjects for DNA phenotyping, which is a process in which DNA is used to predict a person’s appearance.
Chinese researchers are also trying to use DNA to determine a person is a Uighur Muslim.
According to The Japan Times, the Chinese government has tried to create a “false monoculture” within its country, and tried to suppress the ethnic and cultural diversity within China.
“[The Chinese government] is not as accepting of diversity as much as many other countries are. They are homogenous and they want everyone to act and behave the same way,” social studies teacher Kim Dudek said.
According to Harner, this is not the first time China has persecuted religious minorities, and a significant example of this is the treatment of Buddhists in Tibet.
In these detention centers, Muslims are forced to renounce their religion, eat pork products and drink alcohol.
“The issue is a human rights issue. People should not be forced into, essentially, a prison and forced to change their beliefs,” junior Magen Swartley said.
According to the Human Rights Watch, China has labeled other minority religions as cults and harassed its members.
Dudek said that there is not much the United States will do or can do to help the Uighur Muslims, and will probably not consider cutting economic ties with China.
“Money means more to people than sometimes people’s lives,” Dudek said. “We keep blinders on.”
Harner agrees.
“I don’t see us risking our economic relationship for this poor group of people being persecuted,” Harner said.
Eldeeb and Harner acknowledge that detention centers like this have existed before.
“This has happened before, and it is happening still, with different ethnic groups all over the world,” Eldeeb said.