Blindfolded prisoners in Xinjiang
Over the past two years Chinese authorities have detained large numbers of Uyghur Muslims from China’s Xinjiang Province. They are being held in “re-education camps.” Estimates range from 800,000 to more than two million detainees being held indefinitely.
One scholar has estimated that more than 10% of the adult Muslim population of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is being held in the overcrowded camps where they are subjected to political indoctrination, poor diets, abusive treatment, and unhygienic conditions.
According to Human Rights Watch, “Pervasive ethnic discrimination, severe religious repression, and increasing cultural suppression justified by the government in the name of the ‘fight against separatism, religious extremism, and terrorism’ continue to fuel rising tensions” in Xinjiang.
Uyghur activists and numerous other experts believe that the discrimination faced by Uyghurs isn’t confined to Xinjiang’s borders, however. They say that a xenophobic Chinese government, with the help of propagandistic media, has created a climate of fear and intolerance for the thousands of Uyghurs who leave Xinjiang every year for other parts of China.
Radio Free Asia said, “It seems as if this government is determined to persecute any kind of religious activity. The atmosphere is similar to the Red Terror, where there [was] no freedom of speech.”
Satellite images reveal China has demolished dozens of mosques in its Muslim region since 2017 as Beijing ramps up control on Islamic traditions. Many mosques and churches are being demolished under the guise that “the buildings were illegal religious venues” even though mosques and churches had filed all the paperwork required for approval by the authorities.
One observer reported that, they were already flying the national red flag in the mosque, and Communist Party slogans, but those things didn’t protect them.
None of the mosques . . . had presented any kind of political challenge to the authorities. It was simply because they held their prayers and activities outside the government system [for the endorsement of religious activities], just like the [Protestant] house churches. In the government’s … eyes, they were a threat to both party and state, so they had to be violently suppressed.
The Financial Times reported that the world’s largest maker of security cameras Hikvision was supplying nearly 1,000 facial recognition cameras for installation at the entrances of mosques in a county in southern Xinjiang Province to monitor activity in Muslim communities there.