China has been under scrutiny over the past year because of its deplorable treatment of the Uyghur Muslim community. After sending hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs to re-education camps to make them parrot communist ideology, authorities are now transferring them to prisons across China.
Uyghurs are being transferred because the reeducation camps at the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have become overcrowded. Another reason for the transfer is that the Xinjiang region is increasingly becoming tense from the consistent crackdown against the community.
Authorities decided that the best way to contain the tension and prevent any unrest is to spread out detainees to other parts of the country. By sending them to prisons across China, Beijing has made it tougher for families of the detainees to remain in touch with their loved ones.
“Based on the seriousness of their crime, inmates are being transferred to other major prisons in the region and also to inner China… I think they are being transferred to inner China because they can be educated better there, and another reason is that since there are too many prisoners here and we are experiencing an overflow of inmates,” Radio Free Asia quotes a police officer.
Detainees are being transported secretly, with only a few people fully aware of the transport routes and schedule. Windows of most of the buses used for transportation are blacked out to maintain secrecy. Authorities are also bringing in administrators from outside Xinjiang to monitor the camps.
The reeducation camps
The reeducation camps aim at one single thing — to drill it into the minds of the Uyghurs that they have to give up their faith and proclaim the communist ideology as supreme. According to reports, at least a million Uyghurs have attended such camps and about 660,000 have been under detention to “deradicalize” them. “In the end, all the officials had one key point. The greatness of the Chinese Communist Party, the backwardness of Uyghur culture, and the advanced nature of Chinese culture,” BBC quotes Abdusalam Muhemet, a former detainee.
When modern China was formed, the Han community accounted for just 7 percent of the population in Xinjiang. But as the communist government continued to encourage Han migration into the region, their share now stands at 40 percent. What was once a majority Uyghur territory with its own unique culture and tradition is swiftly being reduced to a mirror image of the rest of China.
The United Nations has expressed concerns over China’s treatment of Uyghurs and has received several reports from human rights groups on the matter. The U.S. also made it very clear that Beijing’s ill-treatment of the Uyghur community will only cause damage to China in the long run. RFA quotes U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert warning Beijing that “indiscriminate and disproportionate controls on ethnic minorities’ expressions of their cultural and religious identities have the potential to incite radicalization and recruitment to violence.”
The Trump administration is considering putting sanctions on China to protest against the mistreatment of the Uyghur community. A ban on Chinese companies involved in setting up surveillance systems and detention camps used to oppress Uyghurs is also being considered by lawmakers.