State Dept.: 800K to 2 Million Muslims Forced Into 'Internment Camps' in Communist China

By Michael W. Chapman | March 19, 2019 | 5:29pm EDT
Communist China's
authoritarian president,
Xi Jinping.  (Photo: Lintao
Zhang/Getty Images)

( -- The U.S. State Department, echoing reports by human rights groups and some news media, reported that between 800,000 and 2 million Muslims have been forced into "internment camps" in Communist China where they are reeducated "to erase religious and ethnic identities." Many of the Muslims' children are shipped off to orphanages by the authorities.

Commenting on the situation, the director of the State Department's Human Rights and Democracy Bureau, Michael Kozak, said last week, "For me, you haven't seen things like this since the 1930s," a reference to the internment camps of Nazi Germany and the gulag prisons of the Soviet Union. 

“Rounding up, in some estimations ... in the millions of people, putting them into camps, and torturing them, abusing them, and trying to basically erase their culture and their religion and so on from their DNA," he said.  "It’s just remarkably awful. It is one of the most serious human rights violations in the world today."

Satellite image of an internment camp in China. (Screenshot: YouTube, BBC News)

Kozak made his remarks on March 13, coinciding with the State Department's recent release of its 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for China (including Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau).

The 126-page report covers myriad aspects of human rights practices in Communist China. 

In the Executive Summary, the report states that "The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. ... [President] Xi Jinping continued to hold the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary, state president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission."

In the third paragraph, the summary states, "During the year the government significantly intensified its campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). Authorities were reported to have arbitrarily detained 800,000 to possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic identities."

"Government officials claimed the camps were needed to combat terrorism, separatism, and extremism," reads the summary. "International media, human rights organizations, and former detainees reported security officials in the camps abused, tortured, and killed some detainees."

"Abdulreshit Seley Hajim, a Uighur businessperson, died in May or June [2018] while being held in an internment camp," states the report.  "According to those interviewed by Radio Free Asia, he died from strikes to the head with a blunt object."

A souvenir gift depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping alongside former
Communist genocidal dictator Mao Zedong. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

Further information about the fate of the Muslims included the following,

* "The government conducted mass arbitrary detention of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang. China Human Rights Defenders reported these detentions amounted to enforced disappearance, as families were not given information about the length or location of the detention."

* "Members of the minority Uighur ethnic group reported systematic torture and other degrading treatment by law enforcement officers and officials working within the penal system and the internment camps."

* "Survivors stated authorities subjected individuals in custody to electrocution, waterboarding, beatings, stress positions, injection of unknown substances, and cold cells. Practitioners of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and members of the Church of Almighty God also reported systematic torture in custody."

A satellite image of an internment camp in western China. (Screenshot: YouTube, BBC News)

* "Displaced Children: The detention of an estimated 800,000 to two million or more Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang left many children without caregivers. While many of these children had other family willing to care for them, the government began placing the children of detainees in orphanages, boarding schools, or 'child welfare guidance centers,' where they were forced to shout patriotic slogans, learn Mandarin Chinese, and answer questions about their parents’ religious beliefs and practices."

* "The total number of such children was unknown, especially as many of these facilities were also used for orphans and regular students. Government policy aims to provide such children with state-sponsored care until they reach age 18."

* "Media reports showed new construction for orphanages in Xinjiang greatly escalated in 2017 and 2018 to house thousands of children of parents being held in internment camps. In Hotan some boarding schools were topped with barbed wire."

In addition to forcing between 800,000 to 2 million Muslims into modern day concentration camps for "reeducation," Communist Chinese authorities, according to the report, either participate in or allow countless human rights abuses. These include,

* arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government;

* forced disappearances by the government;

* torture by the government;

* physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members;

Photo of people held in a concentration camp during World War II. (YouTube)

* censorship and site blocking;

* interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association;

* severe restrictions of religious freedom;

* significant restrictions on freedom of movement;

* a coercive birth-limitation policy that in some cases included sterilization or abortions;

(Photo: Mohd SamsulMohd Said/Getty Images)

* trafficking in persons;

* severe restrictions on labor rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own.

The report also noted that the Chinese government still has "not provided a comprehensive, credible accounting of all those killed, missing, or detained in connection with the violent suppression of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations. Many activists who were involved in the 1989 demonstrations and their family members continued to suffer official harassment."

According to The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press), an estimated 65 million Chinese people were killed for political reasons under the dictatorial rule of Mao Zedong, who ruled from October 1949 to September 1976. 

Last week, commenting on the State Department's report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China was “in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations," as reported by Reuters

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