By Josh Babb
By Josh Babb
Rabat – China has come under fire for the forced internment of the Muslim population in the Xinjiang province.
An investigation by the BBC documents a massive expansion of Uighur detention centers in China’s Xinjiang province. Officials for the nation’s ruling Communist Party say the mass internment is simply an education effort to bring the Muslim Uighur people into a “modern, civilized” world.
But critics say the detention centers amount to nothing less than re-education camps, complete with guard towers, barbed wire and surveillance systems, and created with the explicit goal of wiping out Uighur identity, language, and religion.
The UN estimates that over one million Uighurs have been detained, often after being arrested under suspect circumstances with no due process. The total Uighur population in China’s western Xinjiang province is estimated to be around 10 million.
Former detainees accuse the Chinese government of housing prisoners in inhumane conditions and forcing them to disavow any Islamic beliefs in order to secure release. Others claim to have been separated from their children with no process for reunification.
The policy appears to coincide with newly imposed legal penalties targeting Muslims in China, among them a ban on both women wearing headscarves and the religious instruction of children.
China says the newly-passed laws aim to curb terrorism, citing previous incidents in which Uighur assailants carried out politically motivated attacks. Knife-wielding Uighurs killed 31 people at a train station in the Chinese city of Kunming in 2014.
In an effort to fight this threat, authorities in China have also revoked almost all passports of anyone suspected of having Uighur identity, effectively stranding them inside the country.
State officials say the camps have been effective in stemming terrorism.
“In the past 21 months, no violent terrorist attacks have occurred and the number of criminal cases, including those endangering public security, has dropped significantly,” Shohrat Zakir, a politician in Xinjiang said, speaking to state authorities.