‘Dystopian Hellscape’: New Report Shows The Inner Workings Of Chinese Camps For Uyghurs

(GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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China has developed a “dystopian hellscape” of internment camps where Muslim minorities are being tortured as part of the Communist party’s mission to create a homogenous nation, a report by Amnesty International found.

Using testimony, the report showed the “state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution.” The investigation took place between 2019 to 2021 and included interviews with 108 people; a majority of them Kazakh, a minority were Uyghur, and a small number were Kyrgyz, or Han Chinese.

This photo taken on June 2, 2019 shows buildings at the Artux City Vocational Skills Education Training Service Center, believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

Amnesty International found that the abuses have been carried out since 2017 by the Chinese government in Xinjiang. Under the guise of combating “terrorism,” the Chinese government has forced cultural assimilation through arbitrary mass detention, according to the report. (RELATED: Independent Report Finds Evidence Of Beijing’s ‘Intent To Destroy’ Uighurs In Xinjiang Genocide)

“Detainees in these camps are subjected to a ceaseless indoctrination campaign as well as physical and psychological torture and other forms of ill-treatment,” the report said. “These violations are carried out in such a widespread and systematic manner that they are now an inexorable aspect of daily life for millions of members of predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

At the camps, the detainees were monitored at all times, forbidden to talk to other detainees or to speak without permission. They were physically punished if they spoke any language other than Mandarin Chinese, according to the report.

Detainees were punished if they made any sign of religious practice. “We can’t even touch our face, or they would suspect us of praying,” a former detainee told Amnesty International.

The detainees took classes that focused on indoctrinating them about the “evils” of Islam and how powerful and “benevolent” China, the Chinese Communist Party, and President Xi Jinping are, according to the report. 

The report shows numerous cases of people who were arrested and went missing. Mirazat Taher was believed to have been arrested or detained for traveling to Turkey, but the official charge was “organizing, leading and participating in a terrorist organization,” according to Amnesty International. 

Two ethnic Uighur women pass Chinese paramilitary policemen standing guard outside the Grand Bazaar in the Uighur district of the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region on July 14, 2009. (PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images)

Sauce Meltai, who is believed to be in an internment camp, was suspected to have been arrested for traveling abroad, preserving Uyghur culture, and not drinking alcohol — which is forbidden in Islam.

The official reason for the arrest was “potentially affecting other people who are currently at a stable condition.” She was last contacted in 2017.

Amnesty International determined that the detainees were considered “guilt[y] by association” due to relationships or perceived relationships with family, friends, or community members who were considered suspicious or accused of being “separatists” or “terrorists.”

At police stations, detainees were tortured by domestic security police known as the Guabao, or occasionally, by local police,  according to Amnesty International. 

“I was seated on a metal chair. Hands were cuffed. I was interrogated. My feet were also cuffed … I was questioned until 3 a.m.,” Kanat, who spent a year at the camps for visiting Kazakhstan, told Amnesty International.

Although some detainees were able to communicate regularly with their families, some were never able to call or see them, and all calls and interactions were monitored and recorded. 

“China must immediately dismantle the internment camps, release the people arbitrarily detained in them and in prisons, and end the systematic attacks against Muslims in Xinjiang,” Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, said in a statement. 

“The international community must speak out and act in unison to end this abomination, once and for all,” she added.

Both the U.S. and UK consider the persecution of Uyghurs in China to be a genocide.