WASHINGTON, DC — China is building “dozens” of new orphanages to lock up thousands of Muslim Uighur children as young as six months old “like farm animals in the shed,” the religion editor for the Atlantic revealed on Wednesday.
During a panel discussion hosted by the libertarian Cato Institute think tank, Sigal Samuel, who has been covering China’s crackdown on its ethnic Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang province, declared:
I’m sure you all remember that here in the U.S. this summer, there was a huge outcry when President [Donald] Trump’s family separation policy became the focus of national attention, I think what we need to internalize on a deep emotional level now is that in China, we’re seeing family separation on a massive scale and is impacting many, many thousands of children.
The discussion at Cato focused on China’s ongoing comprehensive “re-education” program, which involves state propaganda, mass surveillance, and the internment of up to one million members of the Asian country’s Uighur (or Uyghur) ethnic minority in concentration camps, also known as mind-transformation centers.
Samuel suggested that China is using its re-education campaign to indoctrinate Children to ensure loyalty to the inherently atheist communist party from the new Uighur generation, noting:
Strikingly the children there are being taken away even when they have grandparents and other family members who are begging to be able to keep them and once they’re under state care, they’re totally isolated from their relatives, their culture, Islamic religion, the Uighur language. They’re taught only Chinese language and culture. So some experts I’ve spoken to tell me, these are assimilation policies that China is using to actively rewire their identity of an entire generation of Uighurs.
Bejing claims the camps are vocational centers aimed at purging terrorism, separatism, and religious extremism from the Uighur community in Xinjiang. However, U.S. officials and human rights groups have accused China of using Islamic extremism in Xinjiang as a pretext to continue is decades-old efforts to erase the identity, religion, culture, and language of the Muslim minority.
Samuel revealed that communist authorities in Xinjiang are building “dozens of massive new orphanages” to imprison Uighur Muslim children, adding: “A worker at one of the orphanages said that the conditions at these institutions are so terrible that children there age 6 months to 12 years old are ‘locked up like farm animals in the shed.’”
During the panel discussion, Uighur-American attorney Nury Turkel, the chairman of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, shared his personal experience at one of the camps in Xinjiang.
While Beijing has renewed its repression of the Muslim minority in recent years, the regime’s oppressive tactics against Uighurs is a decades-old problem, according to Turkel.
Citing the Xinjiang Daily, Turkel — who was born inside one of the camps in the Muslim-majority province during China’s cultural revolution — noted that China detained an “astonishing” 18,000 Uighurs on national security charges in 2005 alone, using the 9/11 attacks on the American homeland as a pretext to crack down on the ethnic group.
Describing Xinjiang as a “high-tech police state,” Turkel said the oppression of Uighurs intensified under current Chinese President Xi Jinping, echoing the U.S. State Department.
He revealed that Muslims at the camps are “coerced to repeat sentences such as ‘I deserve punishment for not understanding that Xi Jinping and the communist party can help me. There is no God, and I don’t believe in God. I believe in communist party.’”
Those who failed to say the slogans correctly in Chinese “were beaten” or tortured, Turkel said.
The U.S. and United Nations has acknowledged that Uighurs in China are facing systemic torture, disappearances, executions, and arbitrary detentions as part of Beijing’s “re-education campaign.”