DOST KHAN / ANCHOR
JAMMU: Is it possible for a country like China to tolerate a radicalised population that holds to ransom the entire administrative cum law and order machinery and then cry hoarse over human rights violations, oppression and suppression like the Pakistan’ indoctrinated segments of radicals are doing in Kashmir? In the Valley alms and concessions are provided to radicals, who throw stones on armed forces; who desecrate the national Tricolour in full public and media gaze; who dictate terms to those governing the State and what not. Ironically, this lot of law-breakers sees a Messiah in China, which has sent shivers across the globe in the name of containing radicalism. More than 12 million Muslims have effectively been taken prisoners in their own homeland, an area of north-west China officially referred to as Xinjiang, which means “New Dominion”. For tens of thousands, some estimate as many as one million, the imprisonment is literal. The sheer scale of detention centres reflects a reality starkly at odds with the Chinese Communist Party line. One analysis has detected at least 44 detention facilities in the region, with other estimates even higher. According to the BBC, one facility, at Dabancheng, could hold 130,000 people if used at full capacity. To put these figures into perspective, the number of Muslims who intelligence agencies believe may be at some “risk” of radicalisation in the UK, France and Germany combined is less than 125,000. The vast majority of detainees have not been convicted of any crime. Instead, the Communist Party relies on an arbitrary social taxonomy – referred to officially as a “social credit system” – to identify targets. Metrics such as age, faith, religious practices, foreign contacts and experience abroad sort Muslims into three: “safe”, “normal” or “unsafe”. Those labelled “unsafe” face an imminent risk of detention. The ethnic Uighurs, who make up the vast majority of the region’s Muslim population, are plunged into an environment that seeks to erase their culture. Daily schedules imitate the Native American and Indigenous Detainees must conform to a standard appearance: they wear a common uniform, while pious dress (headscarves, long beards and traditional doppa skullcaps) is strictly prohibited. They are required to study standard Chinese, memorise excerpts from a 13th-century Confucian text, and recite patriotic aphorisms. Detainees must also attend lectures on socialist ideals and “illegal” religious practices. Meanwhile, they are taught “vocational skills” – mostly menial labour such as packing tea leaves – to “prepare” them for their eventual release. The mass incarceration of young adults has left thousands of Uighur children without parents. The Communist party’s solution is to treat them as orphans and place them in “child welfare guidance centres”. Under the care of the State, they are denied regular contact with their extended family and removed from communities where Muslim and Central Asian norms shape daily life. Meanwhile, the government-appointed elder siblings keep a vigilant eye on, and detailed records of, any manifestation of “extremism”. This currently includes practices as mundane as using the greeting Assalamu Alaykum (peace be upon you), maintaining a pious appearance, keeping a Qur’an at home, or engaging in unsanctioned religious practices. An individual’s “stubborn” commitment to these behaviours is likely to be grounds for detention. Despite these appalling abuses, the world remains largely unaware of this crisis or is unwilling to speak out about it for fear of possible political or economic consequences. According to the Washington Post, “Beijing has turned the entire region into a 21st-century surveillance State, with ubiquitous checkpoints and widespread use of facial recognition technology, and has even forced Muslims to install spyware on their phones allowing authorities to monitor their activity online, experts say. Long beards and veils have been banned, and overt expression of religious sentiment is likely to cause immediate suspicion.” This isn’t just a matter of illegally detaining, brainwashing, and torturing one million Chinese Muslims. There have been reports of forcing the detainees to eat pork, drink alcohol, watch propaganda videos, and “recite slogans such as ‘religion is harmful,'” according to an excerpt of the write-up in the Washington Post. In fact, one survivor named Omir Bekali, who was actually a citizen of Kazakhstan visiting family in China, recalls his time being detained and stated, “The psychological pressure is enormous, when you have to criticize yourself, denounce your thinking – your own ethnic group”. He who broke down in tears as he described the camp.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper