Posts Tagged ‘Uyghurs’

Escape From China’s Xinjiang Internment Camps Called “Impossible”

February 7, 2019

Sayragul Sauytbay, the only person to have worked inside an internment camp in Xinjiang and spoken publicly about it, now faces an uncertain future in Kazakhstan.

Speaking to a packed courthouse in eastern Kazakhstan in August 2018, Sayragul Sauytbay—an ethnic Kazakh Chinese national—provided some of the earliest testimony about Beijing’s vast internment camp system for Muslim minorities in its western Xinjiang region. As a former instructor at a camp, Sauytbay had crossed the border illegally into Kazakhstan four months earlier, as she feared internment herself, and now stood on trial with prosecutors in the Central Asian country vying for her deportation back to China.

Practicing Islam is forbidden in parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab facing arrest [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Practicing Islam is forbidden in parts of China, with individuals caught praying, fasting, growing a beard or wearing a hijab facing arrest [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Sauytbay’s lawyers argued that she would be arrested or even killed for having shared knowledge of the camps, where between 800,000 and 2 million members of traditionally Muslim ethnic groups have been detained since 2017, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Despite Kazakhstan’s strong ties to Beijing, the court declined to send Sauytbay back to China. The ruling was seen as a rebuke of Kazakhstan’s powerful neighbor, and as Sauytbay was ushered out of the courtroom, she was greeted by a mob of supporters, who chanted, “Long live Kazakhstan!”

Then the previously outspoken Sauytbay went silent, engaging in a media blackout shortly after her trial. Now, six months later, the summer celebrations atop the courtroom steps look premature, with her future in Kazakhstan uncertain and pressure from China for her extradition growing.

Sayragul Sauytbay sits inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, on July 13, 2018. (Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP/Getty Images)

Sayragul Sauytbay sits inside a defendants’ cage during a hearing at a court in Zharkent, Kazakhstan, on July 13, 2018. (Ruslan Pryanikov/AFP/Getty Images)

In an interview with Foreign Policy, Sauytbay, 42, said she fears that she may be sent back to China and that despite the August court ruling, her status in the country remains in limbo. Facing a growing set of obstacles—from attempts to ensure her silence to absent legal representation to having been repeatedly denied asylum status by the government—she said her time in Kazakhstan, where her husband and two children are both citizens, could be coming to an end.

“I am an inconvenient witness. I saw everything [in the camps],” Sauytbay said in a late January interview. “I can’t say that [China is] afraid of me, but they want me to keep silent.”

As the only person to have worked inside an internment camp in Xinjiang and spoken publicly about it, Sauytbay remains a particular liability for Beijing as it seeks to curb the mounting international criticism around its mass internment system.

A photo posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration shows Uyghur detainees listening to a 'de-radicalization' speech at a re-education camp in Hotan prefecture's Lop county, April 2017.

A photo posted to the WeChat account of the Xinjiang Judicial Administration shows Uyghur detainees listening to a ‘de-radicalization’ speech at a re-education camp in Hotan prefecture’s Lop county, China

“I’d love nothing more than to get asylum in Kazakhstan and be a happy mom with my children,” Sauytbay said. “But I don’t know if that is possible anymore. I can’t exclude pressure from the Chinese side on the government of Kazakhstan.”

Sauytbay said she remains conflicted about what to do. She is still committed to finding a way to have her status formalized in Kazakhstan, but she also feels a sense of duty to keep speaking out about the abuses she witnessed. Sauytbay reiterated claims she made during her hearing in August that she was granted access to classified documents that offered new insights about the inner workings of the network of camps in Xinjiang but refused to disclose any details.

“I don’t want to talk about that until I have some kind of protection,” she said. “I’d prefer that protection to come from Kazakhstan, but I might need help from other countries.”

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Re-education of Uighurs in Xinjiang

Beijing made efforts to ensure Sauytbay’s silence. As first reported by the Globe and Mail, she received news that members of her family still in Xinjiang had been arrested and possibly sent to a camp by Chinese authorities during her trial in Kazakhstan. Sauytbay said she believes the arrests were in retaliation for her releasing information about the internment system in China and that a few months after her post-trial silence, she received word from contacts in Xinjiang that her family had been released and were now back home.

Sauytbay also said a small group of people, unknown to her, came to her house after the trial and told her to keep silent. The small group of Kazakh-speaking men spoke in vague terms about the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang and said there would be consequences for her and her family if she spoke out again.

“I don’t know who they were, but they showed up and said that they know all about me and my family and that if I don’t stay silent, I will be taken to [a camp],” Sauytbay said.

At her public hearing in August, Sauytbay provided new details about the camps, describing the high walls and barbed wire that she believed held around 2,500 ethnic Kazakhs for indoctrination. Sauytbay worked as an instructor at the camp, teaching detainees Mandarin and Communist Party propaganda. She also said she witnessed grave abuses in the camps and inhumane conditions for the detainees, saying that many were malnourished and psychologically abused. Chinese officials have denied such charges, arguing that the measures are necessary to fight Islamist extremism among its Muslim population and that they are guiding “Islam to be compatible with socialism.”

Kazakhstan’s government is still walking a tightrope between acquiescing to Beijing’s demands and keeping public opinion on its side.

Her case has put the Kazakh government in a difficult bind. Kazakhstan remains highly dependent on Chinese investment and has positioned itself as a launching pad for Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. But Sauytbay is one of thousands of ethnic Kazakh Chinese nationals with family ties to Kazakhstan who have become caught up in Xinjiang’s crackdown, and grassroots activists have begun calling on the government to do more. Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently played a more activediplomatic role in securing the release of Kazakhs from detention in China, but the government is still walking a tightrope between acquiescing to Beijing’s demands and keeping public opinion on its side.

Despite the threats against her family in China, Sauytbay said she has received less pressure from the Kazakh authorities since her summer trial and went out of her way to praise President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s longtime autocrat, for his benevolence in letting her stay in the country.

Uali Islam, Sauytbay’s husband, said Kazakh officials have encouraged them to stay out of the public eye as Sauytbay applies for asylum in the country but have not threatened them over speaking out.

This strategy of silence during the asylum process was backed by her lawyer, Abzal Quspan. Sauytbay admitted during her trial that she entered Kazakhstan illegally and was willing to serve a prison sentence as long as she wasn’t sent back to China. The judge gave her a six-month suspended sentence that could be served at home with her family. However, she has since faced a series of roadblocks that have left her questioning her future in Kazakhstan and the legal strategy recommended by Quspan.

According to Islam and Sauytbay, Quspan has grown distant since last summer’s trial and became unreachable during legal deadlines over the last two months.

According to Islam and Sauytbay, Quspan has grown distant since last summer’s trial and became unreachable during legal deadlines over the last two months.

Part of this, they said, is because Quspan was dealing with his sick daughter, who died in January. Quspan told FP that he had been absent and even unreachable during his daughter’s illness and that he asked Saule Abedinova, a Kazakh journalist who has worked closely with him and Sauytbay, to work as a liaison while he grappled with his family tragedy. Quspan said he will continue to represent Sauytbay and that the possibility of her asylum status being denied and her being sent back to China is real.“The risk is there, definitely,” Quspan said.

Islam and Sauytbay recently accused Abedinova of blocking access to Quspan, spreading rumors about them on social media, and trying to keep Sauytbay silent. Abedinova did not respond to requests for comment prior to publication, but she has denied the accusations on her active Facebook page. Abedinova had been involved in Sauytbay’s case since the August trial and worked as an unofficial spokesperson for the family, telling local media that Sauytbay would remain inaccessible during the asylum process.

In late January, Abedinova signed an open letter, along with a group of prominent Kazakh academics and writers, to the Kazakh government asking for the closure of Atajurt Eriktileri, a local grassroots organization that has been actively documenting cases of ethnic Kazakhs and Kazakh citizens caught up in the crackdown in Xinjiang and which rallied public supporters around Sauytbay during her trial. The letter said Atajurt’s work has provoked discord in Kazakh society, jeopardized good relations between Beijing and Astana, and that the issue of ethnic Kazakhs in China is an internal Chinese issue that should be addressed at the official level by both governments. Similar complaints dealing with politically sensitive subjects have often been a precursor to government action in Kazakhstan, such as when the Kazakh version of Forbes and the news site Ratel.kz faced swift backlash after letters were published about their reporting on the business interests of a former finance minister last year.

Sauytbay still has other legal avenues to pursue that would technically keep her in Kazakhstan for at least a year, but after having her asylum request denied twice, the prospect of Kazakhstan prioritizing its relations with Beijing over its international commitments on refugees is more real than ever.

“There are no guarantees about Sayragul’s future,” Islam said. “I don’t think that keeping quiet was a good strategy for us.”

Reid Standish is a journalist based in Helsinki, Finland. He was formerly an associate editor at Foreign Policy. @reidstan
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Ex-Prisoner Says China’s ‘Vocational Training Centers’ a Complete Lie

December 7, 2018
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The ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”
Uyghur Reveals Chinese Communist Party’s Crimes in Xinjiang
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December 6, 2018

China’s claims that Xinjiang’s mass internment camps—where at least one million predominantly ethnic Uyghurs are being held—are “vocational training centres” are completely “fake and made up,” a former Uyghur camp detainee has told The Epoch Times.

Countering claims made by the China’s ruling Communist Party, who in October described the facilities as “free vocational training centers” that make life more “colorful,” the former detainee, Gulbukhar Jalilova, said “they are lying through their teeth,” adding that she “never saw a single classroom.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir told state-run Xinhua news agency that people detained in the camps “will advance from learning the country’s common language to learning legal knowledge and vocational skills.”

Xinjiang governor Shohrat Zakir

But 54-year-old Gulbukhar said instead of learning vocational skills, “I moved from camp to camp, room to room, and never saw anybody spending any time learning something.”

Gulbukhar, a Kazakhstan national and businesswoman, was held in an all-female camp in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, for just over 15 months before she was released in September this year. She was detained after being falsely accused of transferring $17,000 into a company called Nur. She was released by officials after they said they had been told she was innocent.

She was tricked into traveling to Urumqi after receiving a phone call from her business associate’s daughter. She was told there were “big problems” and that she needed to come to the capital immediately from her home in Kazakhstan. She was arrested upon her arrival.

Uyghur woman Gulbukhar Jalilova who was released from Xinjiang reeducation camp
Businesswoman Gulbukhar Jalilova, 54, a former Uyghur detainee in Xinjiang, China. (Gulbukhar Jalilova)

The CCP’s narrative of providing detainees with “vocational skills” to help with employment does not add up, the 54-year-old said, because the types of women held in camp with her were “very rich, educated people,” such as “businesswomen, doctors, nurses and teachers.”

“They weren’t homeless people or those with no money who needed training—that’s a lie from the CCP,” she told The Epoch Times.

“They could afford to go overseas and then when they came back, they were detained.”

But amongst the claims Zakir made, as the CCP moved to legalize the facilities, is that detainees are offered “practical opportunities,” such as learning about “businesses in garment making, mobile phone assembly, and ethnic cuisine catering.”

The CCP has long justified its measures against Uyghurs, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslim, saying the facilities aim to “educate and transform” those that it deems at risk of the “three evil forces” of “extremism, separatism, and terrorism.”

Uyghurs, alongside other ethnic minorities like the Tibetans, as well as faithful believers who remain outside state control, including house Christians and Falun Gong, have long been targeted by the CCP for transformation through “re-education.”

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired a 15-minute segment in October, offering a glimpse into life inside one of the centers—the Hotan City Vocational Skills Education and Training Center.

The “trainees” can be seen reading from large textbooks in the clip and are shown learning various skills such as baking, woodworking, sewing, and cosmetology.

“Whatever the CCP shows on TV and videos—it’s all fake and made up. There are no classrooms. We just sit in our rooms and stare at the wall. The door only opens to punish you, that’s it,” Gulbukhar added.

While China’s state TV footage showed rooms with air conditioning, decorated with bunting and balloons, Gulbukhar said it is a depiction far from reality. Detainees are confined to their rooms, poorly treated, and kept in shackles in overcrowded conditions, she said.

Those in her camp were forced to ingest unknown medicine daily and were injected with a substance every month which “numbs your emotions.” They were also subject to various forms of torture including food and sleep deprivation, physical punishments, while some were even killed, she said.

Chairing a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing on Nov. 29, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said given the daily realities in communist China, where “Uyghur Muslims are rounded up and interned in camps, Tibetan monks and nuns are forced to undergo political re-education sessions, Falun Gong practitioners are reportedly sent to legal education centers for indoctrination, and Christian believers are harassed and imprisoned,” many observers are describing the current wave of repression in China as “the most severe since the cultural revolution.”

Rubio added he believes the CCP’s motivation behind the escalating crackdown “is an obsessive desire … to create a sort of unified, national identity, which must be stripped of anything that competes with it—ethnicity, religion, ethnic cultural tradition.”

China analyst Dr. Samantha Hoffman from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute added at the hearing that the ongoing repression in China is about “protecting the Chinese Communist Party.”

The CCP’s “concept of what we would call national security I think is better translated as party state security,” she said. “[T]here are dimensions … dealing with the internal struggle for power … and then dealing with everything outside the party; controlling the narrative, controlling the ideological space.

“That means that the state security methods extend far beyond China’s borders and that’s why you see the harassment of overseas Chinese.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/ex-prisoner-says-chinas-vocational-training-centers-a-complete-lie_2731988.html

China’s Social Credit System is Nothing To Worry About

November 17, 2018

China’s sweeping, data-driven “social credit” initiative is sounding alarms. In a speech on Oct. 4, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence described it as “an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life.” But there’s a small problem. The system doesn’t actually exist—at least as it’s generally portrayed.

It’s not surprising that myths about the system are spreading, given the shrinking space in China for civil society, rights lawyering, speech, investigative journalism, and religious belief; its increasingly ubiquitous, invasive surveillance capability; and the Chinese Communist Party’s push to apply big data and artificial intelligence in governance. China’s party-state is collecting a vast amount of information on its citizens, and its social credit system and other developments internally and overseas raise many serious concerns. But contrary to the mainstream media narrative on this, Chinese authorities are not assigning a single score that will determine every aspect of every citizen’s life—at least not yet.

Opinion
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Foreign Policy
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AI (Artificial Inteligence) security cameras using facial recognition technology are displayed at the 14th China International Exhibition on Public Safety and Security at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing on October 24, 2018. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s true that, building on earlier initiatives, China’s State Council published a road map in 2014 to establish a far-reaching “social credit” system by 2020. The concept of social credit (shehui xinyong) is not defined in the increasing array of national documents governing the system, but its essence is compliance with legally prescribed social and economic obligations and performing contractual commitments. Composed of a patchwork of diverse information collection and publicity systems established by various state authorities at different levels of government, the system’s main goal is to improve governance and market order in a country still beset by rampant fraud and counterfeiting.

Under the system, government agencies compile and share across departments, regions, and sectors, and with the public, data on compliance with specified industry or sectoral laws, regulations, and agreements by individuals, companies, social organizationsgovernment departments, and the judiciary. Serious offenders may be placed on blacklists published on an integrated national platform called Credit China and subjected to a range of government-imposed inconveniences and exclusions. These are often enforced by multiple agencies pursuant to joint punishment agreements covering such sectors as taxation, the environment, transportation, e-commerce, food safety, and foreign economic cooperation, as well as failing to carry out court judgments.

These punishments are intended to incentivize legal and regulatory compliance under the often-repeated slogan of “whoever violates the rules somewhere shall be restricted everywhere.” Conversely, “red lists” of the trustworthy are also published and accessed nationally through Credit China.

The scope, scale, diversity, and language of the evolving system have caused a lot of confusion, particularly with respect to the existence of a single social credit scoreThere is no such thing as a national “social credit score.”

There is no such thing as a national “social credit score.”

A few dozen towns and cities in China, as well as private companies running loyalty-type programs for their customers, do currently compute scores, primarily to determine rewards or access to various programs. That was the source of at least some of the confusion. Alibaba’s Sesame Credit program, for instance, which gives rewards on Alibaba’s platforms and easier access to credit through a linked company, was often cited as a precursor of a planned government program, despite being a private enterprise.

The government does assign universal social credit codes to companies and organizations, which they use as an ID number for registration, tax payments, and other activities, while all individuals have a national ID number. The existing social credit blacklists use these numbers, as do almost all activities in China. But these codes are not scores or rankings. Enterprises and professionals in various sectors may be graded or ranked, sometimes by industry associations, for specific regulatory purposes like restaurant sanitation. However, the social credit system does not itself produce scores, grades, or assessments of “good” or “bad” social credit. Instead, individuals or companies are blacklisted for specific, relatively serious offenses like fraud and excessive pollution that would generally be offenses anywhere. To be sure, China does regulate speech, association, and other civil rights in ways that many disagree with, and the use of the social credit system to further curtail such rights deserves monitoring.

China’s credit reporting system, whose financial reports comprise a core component of what is considered “social credit,” may also have contributed to the  myth. The Chinese term for credit reporting (xinyong zhengxin) is often translated as “credit scoring.” However, the primary financial credit reporting system for companies and individuals overseen by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, does not provide credit scores or assessments with its standard reports and does not mention “scoring” in its definition of credit reporting. The PBOC’s Credit Reference Center, like licensed private credit reporting agencies, does offer financial credit scores (xinyong pingfen).

Widely reported private credit scoring programs launched not by credit reporting agencies but by some payment platforms such as Alibaba’s, which consider e-commerce and social media interactions as well as financial histories to determine customer scores, likely also contributed to the misconception of a social credit score. The PBOC, looking to expand its consumer credit coverage by sourcing data from online lenders and other nontraditional sources, in 2015 authorized eight companies—some of which, including Sesame Credit, ran customer scoring programs—to seek credit reporting agency licenses. None of those companies qualified.

However, this year the PBOC did license a national agency called Baihang Credit (Baihang Zhengxin), with those eight companies as shareholders, to provide credit reporting services to clients and contribute data from online microlenders and peer-to-peer lending platforms to the PBOC for compiling more accurate consumer credit histories. Baihang may offer credit scoring products, but those scores, as opposed to the data on which they are based, are not part of the official social credit system yet.

Source:https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/16/chinas-orwellian-social-credit-score-isnt-real/

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“Maybe I did a better job because I’m good with the Twitter”

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Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter

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Young people

The study found widespread apprehension about the future. Seeking intimacy? Or isolation?

Western envoys seek meeting on Xinjiang human rights concerns

November 15, 2018

A group of 15 Western ambassadors in Beijing, spearheaded by Canada, are seeking a meeting with the top official in China’s restive, heavily Muslim Xinjiang region for an explanation of alleged rights abuses against ethnic Uighurs.

The envoys are making their request in a letter to Chen Quanguo, Xinjiang’s Communist Party boss, according to a copy of a draft letter seen by Reuters.

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FILE PHOTO: Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Party Secretary Chen Quanguo attends a group discussion session on the second day of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

The move represents unusually broad, coordinated action by a group of countries over a human rights issue in China, and illustrates the mounting backlash Beijing is facing over its crackdown in the western region.

Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, academics, foreign governments and U.N. rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and other Muslim groups who call Xinjiang home.

In August, a United Nations human rights panel said it had received many credible reports that a million or more Uighurs in China are being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”.

China says it is not enforcing arbitrary detention and political re-education, but rather some citizens guilty of minor offences were being sent to vocational centers to provide employment opportunities.

Beijing bristles at criticism of its human rights situation, espousing a policy of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, said on Tuesday the world should ignore “gossip” about Xinjiang and trust authorities there.

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Wang Yi

It was not clear if the letter had been sent yet or if it contents could be revised. One diplomatic source said it was being passed around for more countries to potentially sign.

Several other diplomats familiar with the letter would only confirm its existence and refused to discuss it further, citing its sensitivity. All of the diplomats declined to be identified.

Many foreign governments have refrained from speaking out over the Xinjiang situation, with diplomats saying countries are fearful of angering China, an increasingly weighty diplomatic player thanks to its economic heft and initiatives such as the Belt and Road infrastructure program.

‘WE ARE DEEPLY TROUBLED’

In the draft letter addressed directly to Chen, who outranks the region’s ethnic Uighur governor Shohrat Zakir, the ambassadors said they were highly concerned by the U.N. findings on Xinjiang.

“We are deeply troubled by reports of the treatment of ethnic minorities, in particular individuals of Uyghur ethnicity, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” the draft reads, using an alternate spelling for Uighur.

“In order to better understand the situation, we request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these concerns.”

The letter is copied to China’s Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Public Security and the Communist Party’s international department.

It is not possible to directly contact any senior Chinese leader for comment. The Xinjiang government, ministries of foreign and public security, the party’s international department and party’s spokesman’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

China has said Xinjiang faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists who plot attacks and stir up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority.

The letter carries the names of 15 Western ambassadors, including the Canadian, British, French, Swiss, European Union, German, Dutch and Australian envoys. The other countries’ ambassadors names in the letter are Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Estonia, Finland and Denmark.

Four diplomats familiar with the letter and its contents said Canada had taken the lead in its drafting.

Canada’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement sent to Reuters, did not comment directly on the letter but expressed deep concern over the reports of detention and mass surveillance of Uighurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs raised the situation faced by the Uyghurs directly with China’s Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly. Canada regularly raises concerns about Xinjiang with Chinese authorities both publicly and privately, bilaterally and multilaterally, and will continue to do so.”

The EU, British, German, Swedish, Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, Finnish and Norwegian embassies declined to comment on the letter.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government was concerned about the situation in Xinjiang and officials had conveyed these concerns to China on a number of occasions.

The Irish, Danish, French and Estonian embassies did not respond to requests for comment.

The United States is not represented on the letter, although non-U.S. diplomats say the country has been deeply involved in advocacy on the Xinjiang issue.

“We remain alarmed that since April 2017 the Chinese government has detained an estimated 800,000 to possibly more than 2 million Uighurs, Kazaks and other Muslims in internment camps for political re-education,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said, responding to a question regarding the letter.

“The United States will continue to call on China to end these counterproductive policies and free all those arbitrarily detained. We are committed to promoting accountability for those who commit human rights violations and abuses, including by considering targeted measures against Xinjiang officials.”

The United States has said it is considering sanctions against Chen, other officials and Chinese companies linked to allegations of rights abuses in Xinjiang.

China’s human-rights abuses keep getting worse

November 12, 2018

The landscape of Xinjiang province in western China is dotted with political-indoctrination camps where Muslims and ethnic minorities are sent to be moulded into model socialist citizens.

The declining number of mosques allowed to remain open are fitted with security cameras and facial-recognition technology. Members of the Uyghur minority are terrified of using the traditional Muslim greeting for fear of being detained and sent for indoctrination.

These details of Beijing’s campaign to stamp out Islam, reported last week by The Globe and Mail, illustrate the degree to which China ruthlessly controls its citizens.

Editorial
The Globe and Mail

By 2020, the government plans to have fully implemented a “social credit” system that will use CCTV cameras and smartphone apps to track virtually every moment of its citizens’ lives, grading them for trustworthiness. Poor performers will be locked out of jobs or have trouble getting loans.

This growing Orwellian nightmare is blurred somewhat by the country’s parallel economic boom. Totalitarian dictatorships usually immiserate their people; China’s has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Image result for China, human rights, photos

The Canadian government has shown some needed wariness toward Beijing of late, criticizing China for its mass detention of Muslims at the United Nations last week and pulling back from its push for a comprehensive free-trade deal with the country.

Outside of Ottawa, though, Canadian institutions continue to get burned by co-operating with Chinese state actors. The Globe reported recently that Canadian academics have collaborated with Chinese researchers who have military ties on projects that could bolster Beijing’s armed forces. And a major securities-fraud case is now at risk because Canadian authorities appear to have relied excessively on evidence gathered by Chinese investigators, who are known to use threats and torture to elicit testimony.

We can’t erect a wall between ourselves and the world’s second-largest economy. But Canada must always be clear-eyed about what it’s dealing with: a regime that is obliterating the freedoms of its citizens in ever-more frightening ways.

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Former Uyghur Inmates Tell of Torture and Rape in China’s ‘Re-Education’ Camps

October 16, 2018

Uyghurs in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region are being tortured, raped, and killed in secretive “political re-education” camps, former detainees have told The Epoch Times.

“Upwards of one million” of the predominantly Uyghur prisoners continue to be detained in what were, until Oct. 9, extrajudicial internment camps in western China, according to figures quoted by the the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) and the United Nations.

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Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials say the mass detentions among the Uyghur population, the majority of whom practice Islam, are part of measures to crack down on terrorism, religious extremism, and separatism in the country. The CCP has used the excuse of potential “extremist threats” to justify its strict surveillance and crackdown on Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region.

First-hand accounts described to The Epoch Times reveal attempts by authorities to strip Uyghur detainees of their culture and language, forcing them to denounce their faith and pledge loyalty to the CCP and its leader.

BY ISABEL VAN BRUGEN
Epoch Times
October 15, 2018 Updated: October 16, 2018
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If detainees fail to follow orders, they may be subject to up to five forms of torture as punishment, a Uyghur and former inmate explained in an interview from Istanbul, Turkey.

Xinjiang-born Omir Bekli, 42, a Kazakhstan national since 2006, was detained for six months in March last year after he was forcibly taken from his parents’ home in Shanshan—180 miles east of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang—his head covered in a black sack before being whisked away.

He was visiting Urumqi at the time to attend an international meeting about tourism.

Bekli was detained for seven months in a police cell and then sent to a reeducation camp in Karamay for 20 days where he was tortured, with one of the reasons being his refusal to sing songs which praise the CCP and its leader Xi Jinping.

“The torturing methods were very inhumane and extremely unbearable,” Bekli told The Epoch Times.

Former detainee Uyghur Omir Bekli
Uyghur Omir Bekli, 42, a former detainee in Xinjiang, China. (Courtesy of Omir Bekli)

Uyghurs are “chained up like animals,” deprived of food and sleep, and beaten until their bodies are “swollen and pouring blood.”

“They make you fear and make you weak, physically and mentally, so that they can make you obey them,” Bekli explained.

Another Uyghur detainee—a Kazakhstan national aged 54 who was released in September from a camp in Urumqi after being detained for 15 months—told The Epoch Times that young Uyghur women are being raped daily by CCP officials in the camps and could be killed if they resist. The 54-year-old spoke on condition of anonymity from Istanbul due to fears for her safety.

“Young girls are taken out and raped all night long. If you keep resisting, they will inject you with something and kill you,” she said.

She has personally witnessed two Uyghur females being killed by injection, she told The Epoch Times.

“There are usually 40 to 50 people in one small room, but five to 10 are regularly taken out and they just disappear—they never come back. People are being killed in tens all the time.”

Read more:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/former-uyghur-inmates-tell-of-torture-and-rape-in-chinas-re-education-camps_2689053.html

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China’s Unwillingness to Accept Uighurs Shows Why “Unification” With Taiwan Will Never Happen

September 6, 2018

Over the past week, several reports were published in the US about the mass internment of Uighurs of East Turkestan, which started at about the beginning of last year.

The number of Uighurs incarcerated by the Beijing government has now reportedly exceeded the 1 million mark.

By Gerrit van der Wees

In the past week, three reports documented the building human rights crisis in great detail:

The Washington-based Uyghur Human Right Project (UHRP) issued a report titled “The mass internment of Uyghurs,” which states: “We want to be respected as humans. Is it too much to ask?”

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The New York-based independent digital media company SupChina presented a detailed analysis titled: “China’s re-education camps for a million Muslims: What everyone needs to know.”

Foreign Policy magazine published an article titled: “China’s mass internment camps have no clear end in sight” by Rian Thum, an associate professor of history at Loyola University New Orleans.

The reports presented a haunting picture of the systematic indoctrination and repression of cultural identity in the internment camps, which are comparable to the gulag of the Soviet era.

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The massive increase of the use of such camps by the Chinese regime represents a significant intensification of the much longer-lasting campaign by Beijing aimed at political repression, economic marginalization, curbs on religious practice, demographic engineering and sinification targeting the Uighurs.

The fact that at present more than 1 million people — out of a total of 11 million Uighurs — are incarcerated, means that a staggering 10 percent of the population has been pulled from their homes and regular livelihood.

As the UHRP report states: “While the intention of the camps remains undisclosed, reports of repetitive political indoctrination, sinification through Chinese language and culture sessions, and compulsory denunciations of Uighur culture and belief in Islam indicate the Chinese authorities are aiming to forcibly assimilate Uighurs.”

The report speaks of credible reports of deaths in custody, torture and systematic political indoctrination.

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The SupChina report says: Xinjiang is now a totalitarian police state of historic proportions — it is widely cited as one of the most heavily policed places in the world today. Public security budgets have skyrocketed and futuristic surveillance systems have been pioneered in the region.

All of this is a wake-up call — if Taiwanese need yet another reason to be highly suspicious of Beijing’s advances and promises.

It shows clearly what would happen if Taiwan were to succumb to the pressures to accept the “one China” principle encapsulated in the so-called “1992 consensus” and “unification.”

What can or should Taiwan do in the face of such outrageously repressive behavior by China?

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First, it is important to be informed and be aware of what is happening in East Turkestan, or Xinjiang. Reports like the ones above are extremely valuable and should be read, analyzed and distributed widely.

Knowledge is power.

Second, Taiwanese should speak out about the existence of the internment camps, and the systematic indoctrination and repression of cultural identity going on in them.

In this context, it is important to be reminded of the famous words of German pastor Martin Niemoller, who said [of the Nazi regime]: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”

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Third, it is important for Taiwan to be clearly supportive of the rights and freedoms of Uighurs.

World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer has on many occasions courageously spoken out for freedom and democracy in Taiwan. It is time for Taiwanese to speak out for her and her people.

Gerrit van der Wees is a former Dutch diplomat who served as editor of Taiwan Communique from 1980 through 2016. He teaches Taiwan history at George Mason University in Virginia.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2018/08/31/2003699499

See also:

What Really Happens in China’s ‘Re-education’ Camps

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/opinion/china-re-education-camps.html

Related:

An executive at Human Rights Watch told Peace and Freedom, “Like the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Rohingya are in the way of China’s Belt and Road. And nobody seems to care.”

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Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

Image result for China’s ethnic Kazakhs, photos

 

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Trump Stance on Regulating Google Could Be Trouble for All

September 3, 2018

If the White House does go ahead with regulation after the US president blamed Google for his poor press, it may set a terrible precedent

South China Morning Post

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 8:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 September, 2018, 8:22pm
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It’s tough being big tech lately, and Google especially. It’s facing fines in the billions in the European Union for breaching antitrust laws and for rigging consumer choices in search results. Hundreds of its own staff are in revolt against a plan to re-enter China by recalibrating its search engine to meet mainland censorship laws. And, in one of his typical rage-tweeting sessions, US President Donald Trump singled out Google as being responsible for the bad press he is getting. He claimed the Google search for “Trump News” is “RIGGED”, “so that almost all stories & news is BAD”.

EDITORIAL

Trump later broadened his attack to include Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies. White House officials such as economic adviser Larry Kudlow have threatened regulation, without providing details. In a time-honoured tradition, Trump is blaming the messenger for delivering the bad news. Even without news aggregators such as Google, it’s almost certain that mainstream news outlets, the likes of The New York TimesThe Washington Post and CNN, would still be turning out stories not to the president’s liking.

If it does go ahead with regulation, the Trump White House may be setting a bad precedent, not only at home but also abroad. What’s to stop other powerful leaders and groups from demanding news aggregation to their own liking? In fact, industry direction is already moving in a way Trump would favour, even without regulation.

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The use of artificial intelligence is being pioneered by such tech giants as Google, Facebook and Spotify, the music service website that can guess your taste from past listening and offers new suggestions to you. Increasingly accurate profiles of our personal characteristics, tastes and preferences are being developed and automated by such tech companies. The current bias of Google news searches only seems to relate to the newness of stories or those that are trending, rather than following any overt political agenda.

But news aggregators can easily deliver news and views that cater to the political beliefs of individuals, as Google does with consumer searches. News readers are, after all, just consumers of news, so why not give them what they want? Maybe before his presidency ends, Trump will be able to see only news that praises him to the sky.

https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/article/2162580/trump-stance-could-be-bad-news-all

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CreditCreditIllustration by Jeffrey Henson Scales, photographs by Tom Brenner for The New York Times, and Lionel Bonaventure/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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An executive at Human Rights Watch told Peace and Freedom, “Like the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Rohingya are in the way of China’s Belt and Road. And nobody seems to care.”

Related:

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

Image result for China’s ethnic Kazakhs, photos

 

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China Defends Re-Education Camps for Muslims: Lots of countries take steps to prevent terrorism

August 31, 2018

Around 1 million Uighurs have disappeared without trial. Worse may come. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is behaving much like Hitler’s Nazis before them….

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Many countries take steps to prevent terrorism, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday, after United Nations’ human rights experts voiced alarm over the country’s alleged political re-education camps for Muslim Uighurs.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment at a regular news briefing.

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Hua Chunying

Reuters

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Related:

An executive at Human Rights Watch told Peace and Freedom, “Like the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Rohingya are in the way of China’s Belt and Road. And nobody seems to care.”

Image may contain: text

Related:

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

Image result for China’s ethnic Kazakhs, photos

 

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As China detains Muslim Uyghurs, its economic clout mutes world criticism — A “Nazi-Like View Of ‘Impure’ Minorities”

August 27, 2018

Has China simply become too powerful for the world to protest its human rights abuses? A vast surveillance and detention campaign against a Muslim minority is putting that to the test.

Thomas Peter/Reuters
Armed police keep watch in a street in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, March 24, 2017. Government figures gathered by China Human Rights Defenders, a US-based non-profit, show that 21 percent of all arrests in China last year were made in Xinjiang, though only 1.5 percent of the country’s population lives there.
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Eighteen months after the first reports of a major security crackdown in China’s frontier province of Xinjiang, the world is beginning to wake up to evidence that Beijing is forcing an unprecedented detention and indoctrination program on the Muslim Uyghur ethnic group.

A United Nations panel in mid-August heard what one member called “credible reports” that as many as 1 million Uyghurs are being interned and subjected to political re-education. And in a flurry of statements late last month, several senior US officials and politicians condemned China’s treatment of the Uyghurs, citing the same figures.

“It’s an attempt to brainwash an entire people because of their religious and political beliefs,” says Nicolas Bequelin, East Asia director for Amnesty International. “The policy aims to marginalize and stamp out an entire ethnic group.”

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But awareness is not translating into action – not yet, at any rate.

“The world is starting to pay a little more attention to the fate of the Uyghurs,” adds Mr. Bequelin, but few governments have spoken out and none have taken any firm steps to oppose the campaign. And that may be simply because, as China’s clout spreads worldwide, countries eager for a share of its trade and investment do not dare alienate Beijing. Even governments that have previously spoken up for vulnerable Muslim populations around the world have remained silent, underscoring China’s increasingly pivotal role beyond its neighborhood.

“Governments are not willing to speak up because they would be risking too much economically,” says Peter Irwin, advocacy director for the World Uyghur Congress (WUC.)

Big Brother gets bigger

At the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva earlier this month, Vice Chair Gay McDougall said China had made Xinjiang “something resembling a massive internment camp, shrouded in secrecy, a kind of no-rights zone.” Critics fear the pervasive surveillance state erected in the region may be a testing ground for broader use elsewhere in the country.

Beijing insists that its harsh policies in the restive, mainly Muslim province are aimed at curbing Islamic extremism. Uyghur separatists have staged sporadic bomb and knife attacks, and an editorial in the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper argued recently that Xinjiang “has avoided the fate of becoming ‘China’s Syria’ or ‘China’s Libya’ ” because of “the high intensity of regulations.”

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In Geneva, Chinese delegate Hu Lianhe denied that as many as a million people were being held, but explained that “those deceived by religious extremism” were being sent to “vocational education and employment training centers.” He did not say how many such people had been sent to such centers.

But new evidence suggests that the crackdown has reached unprecedented proportions, with over 1,000 detention centers built or enlarged since early 2017. Former detainees have reported being obliged to spend their days reciting Chinese laws, watching pro-government propaganda films, swearing loyalty to Chinese President Xi Jinping, and renouncing tenets of their faith.

Thomas Peter/Reuters
People mingle in the old town of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, March 22, 2017. A UN panel in mid-July heard what one member called “credible reports” that as many as 1 million Uyghurs are being interned and subjected to political re-education.

Outside these centers, Xinjiang regulations ban “abnormal” beards and veils in public, as well as certain names, including Mohammed. Uighur areas have been flooded with police, and live under one the most sophisticated and pervasive surveillance systems in the world. CCTV cameras use facial recognition technology, and authorities are collecting and registering residents’ DNA and iris scans, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

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“It is likely that experiences learned in the re-education program will inform social re-engineering practices in the rest of the country,” predicts Adrian Zenz, a Xinjiang expert at the European School of Culture and Theology in Germany. “In a more subtle and refined way they could be used against more stubborn pockets of Muslim or Christian sentiment.”

Dr. Zenz published research three months ago – based on studies of Xinjiang government procurement bids, eyewitness accounts, and interviews with officials – estimating the number of Uyghurs undergoing “transformation through education” (as Chinese officials call it) at possibly 1.1 million. That is around 10 percent of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government has offered no legal justification for the detentions, nor is it clear whether there are any official criteria governing detainees’ release.

“The goal is to produce long-term change through intimidation in an entire ethnic and religious population,” Dr. Zenz says. “It is hard to compare it with anything else” in recent history.

US ‘deeply troubled’

The Chinese campaign has caught little international attention until now, partly because before Zenz’s report most evidence was anecdotal, and from politically motivated groups like the WUC. Foreign journalists have found it almost impossible to report from Xinjiang, and Uyghur exiles are afraid to speak for fear of what might happen to relatives in China.

But last month, in connection with a State Department-organized international conference on religious freedom, US officials broke their silence with a spate of comments.

Though President Trump’s administration has shown little interest in human rights abroad, and has a history of controversial comments toward Islam, “religious issues are something that the Republican Party very easily gets behind,” says James Millward, an expert in Uyghur affairs at Georgetown University in Washington. “The US has traditionally been concerned about religious freedoms abroad.”

At the conference, Vice President Mike Pence accused Beijing of “holding … possibly millions of Uighur Muslims in so-called re-education camps, where they’re forced to undergo round-the-clock political indoctrination.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leveled a similar accusation, and US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, speaking at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, said that the Uyghurs’ “religious and ethnic identity is literally being extinguished by the Chinese government.”

The day before, a senior US diplomat had told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that “the United States is deeply troubled by the Chinese government’s worsening crackdown” in Xinjiang and called on other countries to join in Washington’s denunciations.

“We have been quite disappointed at the lack of response,” says the WUC’s Mr. Irwin. “The reason things have gone as far as they have is that China saw no one was going to object so they pushed things further.”

European diplomats say they raised the Uyghurs’ plight at a human-rights dialogue with Chinese officials in Beijing last month, but that was as far as the issue went.

Majority-Muslim reactions

Most striking is the silence from Muslim countries and organizations that have in the past leaped to the defense of other Muslim peoples, such as the Palestinians or the Rohingya.

“Over the years there have been really muted reactions from the Middle East” to events in Xinjiang, says Dawn Murphy, an expert in China’s relations with the Middle East at the US Air War College in Alabama.

Many Arab countries, not eager to draw attention to their own human rights records, “appreciate China’s respect for the principle of non-interference in other countries’ affairs,” Professor Murphy suggests. “And looking broadly at their relations with China, they have likely decided that their economic and political interests are more important” than the Uyghurs’ human rights.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has said nothing about Xinjiang since 2015, when it protested a government edict forbidding civil servants and students from observing the holy fast of Ramadan.

Closer to China, the last Malaysian government cooperated with Beijing to deport a number of Uyghur asylum-seekers. In return, says Ahmad Farouk Musa, head of the Islamic Renaissance Front think tank in Kuala Lumpur, the Chinese government appears to have paid off significant debts held by the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

“Business speaks louder than a humanitarian crisis,” Dr. Musa says. But the new Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir bin Mohamed, has promised a more independent line towards Beijing, Musa points out. “Now we are not scared to stand up to China.”

Meanwhile the Turkish government – traditionally the region’s strongest supporter of the Uyghurs, their ethnic cousins – has been tight-lipped over the “re-education” program. The increasingly autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, turning East in his search for allies, is seeking Turkish membership in the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and is thought unlikely to needle Beijing amid a bitter political and economic dispute with Washington.

Some activists say they still hope that as news from Xinjiang spreads, it will spur pressure on China, despite Beijing’s economic clout.

In the past, the WUC’s Mr. Irwin points out, “states did not really believe the figures we were talking about. Now that there is a firmer basis for them we hope there will be more of a reaction. The issue is filtering up the system in the US, at least.”

In November, China is due to undergo its five-yearly “periodic review” by the UN Human Rights Committee. Uyghur activists hope their nascent momentum will “push the international community to make strong statements” at that meeting, Irwin says.

“But getting governments to pass laws” to punish China, he adds ruefully, “is another story.”

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2018/0824/As-China-detains-Muslim-Uyghurs-its-economic-clout-mutes-world-criticism

Related:

An executive at Human Rights Watch told Peace and Freedom, “Like the Uighurs in Xinjiang, the Rohingya are in the way of China’s Belt and Road. And nobody seems to care.”

Related:

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

Ethnic Uighur children in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province © Getty

  (Academic Freedom Chinese Style)

Image result for China’s ethnic Kazakhs, photos

 

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