Afghan-American teenager Feroza Aziz attacked China in a commentary disguised as an eyelash extension tutorial in a video going viral on the Chinese-owned social network TikTok this week.
In a post that starts off by offering viewers beauty tips, Feroza Aziz soon switches the topic to China’s mass internment of Uyghur Muslims in the region of Xinjiang, accusing Beijing of carrying out “another Holocaust.”
In an interview with the Hong Kong Free Press, she said that she chose a makeup tutorial because she needed something that “people would want to watch,” before calling on governments around the world to take measures to “stop innocent people dying.”
“I knew that if I start with a makeup tutorial, then people would want to watch,” she told the Hong Kong Free Press. “I then realized that I should use this idea of disguising my video because it will reach out to more people without TikTok [finding] out that I am talking about China’s corrupt government.”
Having successfully disguised the video, she goes on to plead with viewers to look up the human rights abuses in Xinjiang, that include “throwing innocent Muslims in [concentration camps], separating families from each other, kidnapping them, murdering them, raping them, forcing them to eat pork, forcing them to drink, and forcing them to convert [to Chinese communism].”
“As a Muslim myself, I have been a victim of racism and prejudice,” she said. “I also grew up in a Jewish community, so I have always been aware of the Holocaust and the genocide placed on the Jews in World War II. After finding out about this issue, I knew that I had to say something about this, because if I didn’t say anything, who would?”
“This is another Holocaust, yet no one is talking about it,” she pleaded. “Please be aware, please spread awareness in Xinjiang right now.”
Unusually for Chinese social media platforms, Azis’s video remains accessible on TikTok, although she confirmed that she had been prohibited from posting new content for a month because of an unrelated post that reportedly broke their rules on “terrorist-related material.”
“I am blocked from posting on tik tok for a month,” she wrote on Twitter. “This won’t silence me.”
I am blocked from posting on tik tok for a month. This won’t silence me.
— feroza.x (@x_feroza) November 25, 2019
In a statement provided to the BBC, a TikTok spokesperson claimed that the platform does “not moderate content due to political sensitivities,” although this only applies to their English version of the app. “Her new account and its videos, including the eyelash video in question, were not affected and continue to receive views,” the spokesman added.
China has repeatedly sought to censor and shut down criticism or acknowledgment of the existence of such camps, where between 1 million to 3 million people are being held, claiming they are “vocational training centers” aimed at reducing Muslim extremism following a spate of Islamic inspired terrorist attacks.
According to countless witness testimonies and human rights investigations, such vocational training centers more closely resemble concentration camps, with detainees coerced into converting from Islam to support to the Chinese communist regime.
“Spreading awareness does wonders,” added Aziz. “We can reach millions across the world [and] reach those with the power to do something about it.”