China Debuts Propaganda Film Justifying Muslim Concentration Camps

thnic Uyghur members of the Communist Party of China carry a flag as they take part in an organized tour on June 30, 2017 in the old town of Kashgar, in the far western Xinjiang province, China. Kashgar has long been considered the cultural heart of Xinjiang for the province's …
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Chinese state media debuted a propaganda film Thursday justifying imprisoning Muslims in concentration camps, describing it as a “rare documentary reveal[ing] counter-terrorism perseverance” across western Xinjiang province.

According to the English language propaganda outlet Global Times, the documentary, entitled Fighting Terrorism in Xinjiang, prompted “wide discussions among the audience with never-before-seen real crime scenes of terrorism, which highlighted the hefty prices China has paid and the country’s resolution in eradicating terrorism.”

The documentary also supposedly provided “concrete evidence of the horrible crimes wreaked by terrorists” across the region, while also revealing “hard evidence of interactions between terrorists and overseas masterminds.”

Xinjiang is home to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a jihadist group that mainly advocates for independence from China. It has also experienced several attacks by separatists protesting Chinese communist oppression in the region. Xinjiang is home to the majority of the nation’s ethnic Uyghur Muslims and a variety of other ethnic minorities rare elsewhere in China. The Uyghur have their own language and culture significantly different from the majority Han Chinese, one that Beijing has attempted to erase through the disappearance of Uyghurs into concentration camps and the flooding of Xinjiang with Han Chinese people who have earned the trust of the Communist Party.

China began the process of eradicating Uyghur culture in 2017, ordering the imprisonment of approximately 1.5 million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities across Xinjiang.

Multiple reports from within the concentration camps have documented evidence of egregious human rights abuses, including the employment of slave labor, imposing forced sterilization or birth control, and using prisoners as live organ donors.

According to the Times, the documentary also looks at the “launching [of] vocational education and training centers,” the Chinese state’s official term for the concentration camps, describing them as “highly effective in de-radicalizing and fighting extremist forces.”

The outlet goes on to cite “incomplete data” claiming that the region has seen “thousands of terrorist attacks that killed large numbers of innocent people and hundreds of police officers.”

The documentary claims that the cause behind attacks has not been China’s long-term persecution of the Uyghur people, but rather a global Islamist terror movement symbolized by the 9/11 attacks.

“Some Western countries spread the idea that the 2009 Urumqi riots were ethnic clashes triggered by repression. Chinese experts say that’s illogical, given the 9/11 attacks,” the documentary declares. “The anti-China interpretation shows the double-standard approach adopted by some.”

Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang province. In 2009, 140 died in protests that grew violent against communist intrusion in Uyghur life.

Pressure is growing on China from the international community to allow greater access to the camps to human rights experts to assess the situation. However, a communist official this week claimed the camps are “schools” and “vocational training centers,” while also insisting that all escapees who have testified on the matter of human rights abuses are lying because of their animosity to the Chinese state.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at countering what it describes as “arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment” of the Uyghur people, calling for “targeted sanctions” on senior communist officials involved the repression. The bill still must still be passed through the Senate and approved by President Donald Trump. Such legislation was poorly received in Beijing, which accused the U.S. of “gross interference” in their internal affairs.

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