Category Archives: human dignity

RFA: Parents of Drowned Uyghur Child Likely Held in ‘Political’ Re-education Camp


A young Uyghur girl was recently found to have drowned in an area of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where many adults are being held in political “re-education camps” and cannot provide care for their children, according to sources.

A recent post on social media said that a “child’s body was recovered from a river” near a graveyard in the seat of Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture’s Ilchi district in May and brought to the Hotan People’s Hospital, without providing information about the victim.

While investigating the report, RFA’s Uyghur Service spoke with a staff member at the hospital’s Epidemiology department who said he had no knowledge of the incident, while other sources at the Hotan City Women’s Union also were unable to offer any details about the case.

When RFA contacted the police department in Ilchi district, an officer said he had no specific information about the child but that his colleague, Ibrahim, had “dealt with the incident.”

Officer Ibrahim refused to take RFA’s calls, however.

Two Hotan-based sources, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity, were able to provide a few more details about the incident.

One said the victim was “a girl … about five years old” from Ilchi district’s No. 3 Neighborhood Committee—also known as the Sultanim Neighborhood Committee—though they were unable to provide the child’s name.

“I heard that she died five or six days before her body was recovered,” the source added.

The second source told RFA that the girl had “died after falling into … a branch” of a river in Hotan.

The source was unsure of the girl’s name or when she had died.

When asked whether the young girl’s parents had been interned in China’s vast network of political re-education camps, where up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017, the source said they were unsure.

“We only heard that the missing child was recovered from a river,” the source said, adding, “We don’t know anything about the parents.”

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RFA: US Officials Step up Calls For End to China’s Uyghur Internment Camps


Senior U.S. officials this week stepped up a campaign to press China to reverse its policy of detaining a million or more Uyghurs in so-called reeducation camps, with a Pentagon official warning that the mass incarceration posed a security threat as it increased the “potential for radicalization” of the oppressed Muslims.

“We do worry about the effects these will have on regional security and potential for radicalization. Treating people this way can certainly lead to those outcomes,” said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver.

“It is a humanitarian issue, it is a religious freedom issue, but for us at the Department of Defense it is also a security issue,” he told a two-day conference in Washington titled “Confronting Atrocities in China: The Global Response to the Uyghur Crisis.”

“The Chinese government’s rampant abuse of the human rights and religious freedoms of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is an urgent issue impacting the broader region,” said David Ranz, acting deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs.

“The deteriorating state of religious freedom in China, including the government’s increasing persecution of the Uyghurs and other Muslims minorities, is not only a bilateral issue with China; it is a regional and global one as well,” he told the gathering.

“It is a crisis that has engaged all corners of the State Department as we seek to build a global response to the Chinese government’s program of oppression,” added Ranz, who urged governments in China’s region and beyond to back the campaign to end the mass incarcerations.

“We call on China to end this campaign of repression, and immediately release the approximately 1 million arbitrarily detained in camps. We urge other governments of the region and the world to join us,” he said.

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RFA: US Speaker Pelosi Says Uyghur Crackdown Bill ‘Moving in a Positive Direction’


U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this week that she supported legislation that seeks accountability for China’s harsh crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs that has landed some 1.5 million residents of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in internment camps.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires endorsement by the full U.S. Senate and ratification by the House of Representatives, would appoint a special State Department coordinator on Xinjiang and require regular reports on the camps, the surveillance network and the security threats posed by the crackdown. It cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 22.

“I don’t know what the status is right now, but we’re moving in a positive direction,” Pelosi told RFA’s Uyghur Service on Tuesday on the sidelines of a congressional event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.

Passage of the bill is “what we’re working for, because it’s a grave injustice,” she added.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017. Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.

“It’s very sad and I call upon the rest of the world to speak out (over) the arrest of the Muslim people in China,” said Pelosi.

“What they’re doing to the Uyghurs is outside the circle of civilized human behavior to have millions of people in prison for what they believe.”

The bill provides a catalog of documented mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims that precedes the detention camps.

The legislation requires U.S. intelligence agencies to report to Congress on the “regional security threat posed by the crackdown and the frequency with which Central Asian countries are forcibly returning Turkic Muslim refugees and asylum seekers,” as well as a list of Chinese companies involved in building and running the camps.

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RFA: Interview: ‘Now is The Time For The World Community to Act’

Sam Brownback is a lawyer, former United States Senator and former governor of the state of Kansas who has served as the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom since February 2018.

He spoke with RFA Uyghur Service Director Alim Seytoff on June 5, the Muslim Eid holiday, about U.S. policies in response to the persecution underway in northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where authorities have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in a network of political “re-education camps” since April 2017.

RFA: More than one billion Muslims around the world are celebrating the Eid holiday with their families and friends. At the same time, more than one million Uyghurs are detained in China’s so-called political reeducation camps. The State Department last week called on China to release all the Uyghurs detained in the camps, but the Chinese government has not released them. What’s your message today to the Chinese government?

Brownback: This is a terrible mistake that they’ve made. They shouldn’t have done it. Locking up this many people of faith simply because they’re Muslims and the Chinese are trying to control the Muslim population in their country. We continue to call upon them to release these individuals. And the world has taken note, the world will take note, and there will be actions that follow this consequence of what China is doing. If you think about it, we’re in 2019 and we’re talking about internment camps and reeducation camps and these sort of things that sound like they should belong in the 1940s and 1950s, not where the world is today. I think this is a terrible mistake that the Chinese have made and we call upon them to release all the Uyghurs and to allow them to peacefully and freely practice their faith. Particularly in this season, where Ramadan is just over and it’s a celebratory time, the Chinese really should do the right thing. And it also sends a message to the world: If China is willing to do this to their own Muslim population, what do they think of Muslims around the world that peacefully practice their faith? A country the size of China—the biggest population in the world, the second biggest economy—they need to be far more interested in what they’re projecting to the world and what they think of people of faith. Particularly the Muslim faith, but they’re doing this to Christians, they’re doing this to Buddhists, they’re doing this to Falun Gong, across the board.

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FOX11(LA): Undercover video reveals brutal treatment of Falun Gong prisoners inside Chinese labor camps

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (FOX 11) – WARNING: This story contains graphic images and video that may be disturbing to some viewers.

A California family is taking their fight to the Chinese government after they say their loved one was tortured and killed inside of a Chinese labor camp nearly 20 years ago, simply for supporting the spiritual meditation practice known as Falun Gong. Now, never before seen undercover video given to FOX 11 is revealing what life is like for political prisoners inside of those Chinese labor camps.
In 1999, the Chinese government ordered the eradication Falun Gong, calling it a “heretical” organization that threatened social stability.

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RFA: US Urges China to Release Uyghurs and Other Incarcerated Xinjiang Muslims For Eid

The U.S. State Department called on China Wednesday to release the more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslims held in detention camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), urging Beijing to let them reunite with their families for the Eid holiday.

“The human rights abuses in Xinjiang must end and they must end now. We call on the Chinese government to release all Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities arbitrarily detained throughout Xinjiang so that they may return home to celebrate the Eid holiday with their loved ones,” department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said.

In a strongly worded statement a news briefing in Washington, Ortagus said that Eid, the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which falls on June 4 or 5 this year, made it “important to speak up for the victims of China’s massive campaign of repression against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”

“The U.S. is alarmed by the arbitrary and unjust detention of more than one million people; widespread reports of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; ever-present high-tech surveillance; and coerced practices contrary to people’s faiths,” she said.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017. Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.

“Throughout this campaign the Chinese government aims to force its own citizens to renounce their ethnic identities and their Islamic faith,” said Ortagus.

She said that even considering China’s long history of hostility to religion “the repression of Chinese Muslims stands out as particularly cruel and inhumane during the holy month.”

RFA has reported that detainees in camps have been forced to break Ramadan fasting and have also been routinely fed pork, a forbidden meat.

The State Department comments come a week after the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill that seeks accountability for China’s harsh crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires endorsement by the full U.S. Senate and ratification by the House of Representatives, would appoint a special State Department coordinator on Xinjiang and require regular reports on the camps, the surveillance network and the security threats posed by the crackdown.

“Increased unrest in the Xinjiang region as a result of the central government’s severe repression is used in Orwellian fashion by the Government of the People’s Republic of China as evidence of ‘terrorism’ and ‘separatism’ and as an excuse for further disproportionate response,” the legislation says.

The legislation requires U.S. intelligence agencies to report to Congress on the “regional security threat posed by the crackdown and the frequency with which Central Asian countries are forcibly returning Turkic Muslim refugees and asylum seekers,” as well as a list of Chinese companies involved in building and running the camps.

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RFA: Rights Group Presses Islamic World Over Xinjiang Camps Ahead of UN Session

The U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched a campaign on Friday aimed at persuading Islamic countries to end their silence over the more than a million Muslim Uyghurs languishing in Chinese detention camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

The “Close the Camps” social media campaign has opened during the Islamic world’s celebration of Ramadan and is focusing on getting the Xinjiang camps on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 41st session, which opens June 24.

“All Muslims in Xinjiang face pervasive restrictions on their religious practices and endure other rights violations, including collective punishment, restricted movement, and invasive surveillance,” said HRW.

“We’re asking the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), its member countries, and other concerned governments to speak up for Xinjiang’s Muslims,” HRW said.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.

China has come under strong criticism, and calls for sanctions against officials responsible for the camps, from the United States and other Western countries. The Muslim world, with a few exceptions has remained silent.

The HRW campaign uses tweets and Facebook posts to prod the OIC into action, asking its members to help call out China and support efforts to monitor the treatment of Uyghurs at the UN rights meeting next month.

“It’s Ramadan. Will the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation stay silent as the Chinese government effectively outlaws the practice of Islam in #Xinjiang? Or will its members have the courage to condemn these outrageous abuses against 13 million Muslims at the UN Human Rights Council?” reads one tweet in the campaign.

“China is systematically violating the rights of Muslims in #Xinjiang. Will the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation stand up for Muslims facing political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement, communications, religion, and surveillance at the UN Human Rights Council?” says another.

A third tweet asks “why does the OIC express concern about Islamophobia and attacks on Muslims in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar—but not in China?”

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RFA: Kazakh and Uyghur Detainees of Xinjiang ‘Re-education Camps’ Must ‘Eat Pork or Face Punishment’


Kazakh and Uyghur held in political “re-education camps” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being forced to consume pork, despite the dietary restrictions of their Muslim faith, in a bid by authorities to assimilate them into Chinese culture, according to three former detainees.

Since April 2017, authorities in the XUAR have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in the camps, which China claims are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Gulzire Awulqanqizi, an ethnic Kazakh Muslim who was held at the Dongmehle Re-education Camp in Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Ghulja (Yining) city from July 2017 to October 2018, recently told RFA in an interview that detainees are told they must eat pork, or face punishment.

Awulqanqizi said she and other detainees were initially given pork at a meal without their knowledge.

“They simply said it was a ‘friendly feast,’ but we could tell there was pork, which we can’t stand to eat,” she said.

Later, Awulqanqizi said, authorities at the camp would serve pork for dinner more regularly, but only after stressing the importance of creating “unity among nationalities” and getting along with members of the Han Chinese majority when detainees are released.

Awulqanqizi told RFA that she vomited after eating pork the first time.

But instead of helping her, camp officials told Awulqanqizi that her distaste for pork was all in her head and threatened to send her to a different camp if she continued to get sick from eating it.

Awulqanqizi forced herself to eat pork whenever it was served until she left the camp last year.

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RFA: US Senate Panel Passes Bill to Address China Uyghur Crackdown, Camps

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill on Wednesday that seeks accountability for China’s harsh crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs that has imposed blanket surveillance and landed some 1.5 million residents of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in internment camps.

The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which requires endorsement by the full U.S. Senate and ratification by the House of Representatives, would appoint a special State Department coordinator on Xinjiang and require regular reports on the camps, the surveillance network and the security threats posed by the crackdown.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017. Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.

“It is long overdue to hold Chinese government and Communist Party officials accountable for systemic and egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang,” said Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored the legislation, with Democrat Bob Menendez.

“Today we are all Uyghurs, and China’s horrific and systematic abuse of its Uyghur minority is an affront to all people who value the principles of universal human rights, and Beijing’s imposition of systemic mass surveillance in Xinjiang should send a chill down the spine of every person who values humanity, human life, and ethnic, religious and cultural freedom,” Menendez said.

Menendez called the bipartisan legislation “an important stand today against President Xi (Jinping) and the Chinese Communist Party’s vision of a dystopian authoritarian future for their own people and for the planet.”

The bill provides a catalog of documented mistreatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims that precedes the detention camps.

“In recent decades, central and regional Chinese government policies have systematically discriminated against Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims in Xinjiang by denying them a range of civil and political rights, including the freedoms of expression, religion, movement, and a fair trial, among others,” says the legislation.

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RFA: Xinjiang Re-education Camp Detainees Appointed ‘Crying Time’ Every Two Weeks


Detainees in the vast network of political “re-education camps” in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are given an hour or so to “cry” every two weeks, according to a young ethnic Kazakh woman who was held at one of the facilities.

Since April 2017, authorities in the XUAR have held an estimated 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in the camps, which China claims are an effective tool to protect the country from terrorism and provide vocational training.

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Guzire Awulqanqizi, a Kazakh woman who was held at the Dongmehle Re-education Camp in Ili Kazakh (in Chinese, Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture’s Ghulja (Yining) city from July 2017 to October 2018, recently told RFA in an interview that detainees dealing with the stress of 14-hour days of political study are given a “crying session” every two weeks.

“They say, ‘Now you can cry,’ but if we cry at other times when we feel the need, they criticize and threaten us, saying they will move us to a different camp,” said Awulqanqizi, who now lives in exile in Almaty, in neighboring Kazakhstan.

“When we feel sad and cry, they say, ‘You cannot cry now—you can only cry when it is your allotted crying hour.’ At the crying hour, they shout at us, ‘Now you cry!’”

According to Awulqanqizi, authorities in the camps have established a crying hour because “they know we were suffering,” but even when detainees are permitted to express their emotions, “we have to cry quietly” while monitored by camp officials.

“They stayed and watched us,” she said, adding that each classroom was observed by five teachers and two police officers.

Classroom monitors would threaten detainees with electric batons and verbally abuse them if they cried outside of permitted crying times.

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