China’s Concentration Camp Secrets are a Blatant Ethnic Injustice


Annabella Rivera

Two women in one of the many Muslim detention centers in Xinjiang, China.

Annabella Rivera, Staff Writer

Since 2014, Muslims residents of Xinjiang, China have been mysteriously admitted into “re-education” camps, and these camps are extremely secretive and kept from the public eye. Until recently, the Chinese government had these camps under wraps and the majority of citizens were unaware of what was going on. Behind closed doors, innocent Muslims are being tortured and there are multiple accounts of sterilization and mistreatment.

The Chinese government had completely denied the existence of these camps up until 2018, when they legalized them. The United States and other countries are well aware of what is occurring in the Xinjiang region and have only recently taken measures to give China the consequences they deserve. The fact that these camps have been going on for years and the United States were well aware, yet now is when they decide to do something about it, is unacceptable. These centers have been ongoing since 2014 and our government is only recently taking action, just when the citizens here in the United States  begin find out the crisis. Although there was not much information to go on, there were many red flags that they chose to ignore.

When you get to the bottom of it, these countries remain silent about the situation for their own economic success. Many countries either receive or send out goods to China and they believe their economy is more crucial than the lives of about one million Muslims being tortured in these “re-education” camps.

To begin, the Trump administration recently placed sanctions on important Chinese business and government organizations, and they blocked a few Chinese officials from receiving visas to the United States. Although these measures were necessary, they took an extremely long period of time to be placed into action. As a country, the U.S. stayed silent about the terrorization of innocent Muslims in the Xinjiang province. The government knew, leaving the general public unaware for years. Is it a coincidence that the United States government took action after its citizens began to uncover what was going on or was their intention to look the other way unless news broke out?

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I cannot believe that something like this has been going on for years and we did not do anything about it

— senior Sabrina Crespo

Since the Chinese government wants to keep this practice a secret, there is not much information on what exactly goes on inside of a re-education camp on a daily basis. Based on the information and testimonials gathered, what is allegedly occurring in these camps is absolutely gruesome and hard to believe.

All types of Chinese citizens are eligible to be admitted into these camps for offenses as minor as wearing a burka or possession of any illegal religious video that represents Islamic beliefs. Admitting people into these camps after being caught practicing Islam is suspicious in itself, as this denotes a form of religious persecution. The province’s reason for incarcerating these people is to “prevent thoughts of terrorism”, thus insinuating that practicing Islam is unlawful and against the country. These actions by the Chinese government could have been deemed suspicious previously, as the red flags were all there. The U.S. government still chose to ignore what was going on for whatever reason and that inaction is completely intolerable.

Attempts have been made to receive more information on what exactly goes on inside these camps, but organizations that try to lurk are often blocked and ,if not, censored, receiving a false reality of the centers. An attempt was made by the New York Times, who interviewed a former detainee of the re-education camp.

In this interview, there were multiple Chinese officials closely monitoring their actions and the actions of the interviewee. Answers feeling forced from the New York Times interviewee, they decided to doubt his answers and question what exactly occurs in these camps more and more. How defensive their government has proven to be with their camps shows that they have something to hide and, because they are so secretive, we will never get an abundance of information on this topic. This secrecy further proves that the U.S. should have delved into this topic before and continue to do so, as lives of innocent people are possibly at stake.

Some might say that the American government could not have known beforehand, as all of the survivors of these camps are silent on the topic, fearing the consequences they would receive if they gave out any information. However, among the masses, there are individuals who do speak out on the situation and share their experience to expose what is going on behind the scenes.

For example, a woman by the name of Gulbahar Jalilova shared about her time there and her claims were jaw-dropping. She revealed that about 50 people would be held in a 10-by-20-foot cell and, every once in a while, officials would pass by these cells and order them to stick their hands out from the opening. When doing so, these officials would inject the women with a mysterious substance. After some time, the women began to notice they did not get their periods anymore. Later, Gulbahar Jalilova went to a doctor and came to know that she, along with her cellmates, were in fact being sterilized by these shots.

There are many cases similar to or worse than hers, but keep in mind that this is simply skimming the knowledge currently known by the majority of everyday citizens about these camps. Keeping in mind these severe situations, the American government should put the welfare of these people before any prosperity China offers.

“I believe that it is inhumane what they are doing to the Muslims because it is a religion and you should not discriminate and hurt people for their religion, because they are apart of their country as well,” Freshman Marcela Rondon said.

A situation like this one is not something that would be expected in the 21st century and frankly, it is unbelievable that this still exists. History is repeating itself right before our eyes and yet, officials with power around the world remain stagnant. Any action currently being taken is long overdue because the entire world is only recently uncovering the horror of Xinjiang re-education camps. Cutting more ties with China while this situation is going on is necessary for the United States because of the heinous persecution taking place against Muslims and because the Chinese attempt to keep this out of the media shows that it knows what it is doing wrong.

It is time for the Chinese to finally face consequences for this terrible injustice, and the U.S. needs to make up for lost time and take measures to ensure that we do not condone this behavior as country, or it will continue to occur throughout the future.