A Modern-day Holocaust

Five years ago, China was terrorized by a man stabbing over 150 people at a train station in Xinjiang. China’s president, Xi Jinping, knew a change was necessary in order to secure the safety of his citizens. Did he make stronger laws and policies? No. Instead, he targeted the ethnic group of the people who initiated the attack: Muslims. He did not just want to get rid of terrorism in China; he wanted to completely rid China of Muslim culture with “absolutely no mercy.”

A group of excited students were on the way home from Beijing to see their families in Xinjiang, located in the western part of China. Instead of being greeted by their families, the children were greeted by government officials. The New York Times (nytimes.com) reveals that the officials told the students their families were “in training schools set up by the government” and “are not criminals.” The officials explained to the students that their parents were sent to these places for “their own good.” This is the sentiment that China had been sharing with the world. China claimed they were sending people to these camps to provide job training and to fight Islamic extremism, The New York Times explained. In a recent video, CNN (cnn.com) revealed video footage released by the Chinese government from these camps of people living happy and healthy lives. A breakthrough was made this year when over 400 legal documents were revealed; a full compilation of secret speeches made by Chinese leaders and documents revealing the horrors of these “camps.” These documents came to light when a member of the Chinese political establishment leaked them. He/she decided to keep his/her identity anonymous to protect his/her safety. Other anonymous stories were shared online from Muslims who were in the camps or knew someone in the camps.

One in ten Uighur Muslims in China has been taken from his/her home and brought to internment camps in the past five years, as Aljazeera’s website (aljazeera.com) reveals. The discrimination is against all Muslims, but the Uighur sect is predominant in the Xinjiang area. China is a country that reveres atheists and privileges its majority, the Hans. Xinjiang is a land that is native to Uighurs who speak languages similar to their Turkish neighbors and are more assimilated with Turkish culture than with Chinese culture. The region is under autonomous rule, but Xinjiang is still part of China. The Aljazeera network reveals that the Uighurs wanted independence from China, but instead, China sent Han people to inhabit the area. This, the government felt, would force the Muslims in Xinjiang to give up their culture, and forcefully assimilate Uighurs with the Chinese people the government sent to the area.

Camps, secrets, terror; it all sounds too familiar. Yes, this situation can be paralleled to the Holocaust, when millions of people were killed because of their race, ethnicity, religion, and other differences. But there is a difference: the people being sent to Chinese camps are not being killed. These camps are an extreme movement to root out Muslim culture from China. The camps are made to make the Muslims more like “Chinese” people. CNN (cnn.com) revealed footage of innocent Muslims with their hands shackled, heads shaved, and blindfolds over their eyes. The New York Times (nytimes.com) explained that Xi (China’s president) felt that, “There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals.” In his mind, Muslims are criminals, and something was to be done. A reform was created, and millions of lives were destroyed and terrorized.

Very few countries are doing anything to aid Muslims in China. It is a complicated situation, and it is one that many people do not even know about. Senior Amina Farman explained that if people in the United States were being taken away because of a difference they had she would “protest and ask for change.” Sophomore Lexi Capitali said that she would “try to help if it were one of her good friends,” sharing that it would be more difficult if it were someone she did not know.

Could there be a holocaust in the modern and industrialized world? Capitali believes there cannot be because “people are so strong-willed and aware of everything.” She added that it could not happen in America but “maybe elsewhere.” Junior Sarah Denker is aware of the situation in China and shared her thoughts: “[A modern-day holocaust] definitely could [happen], and it is on the verge of happening. People know about [the situation in China], but they just don’t want to help. We all know, but we’re not doing anything.” Educated on the situation or not, it is clear that people do not want something like this happening in the world.

The recent revelation of the internment camps in China shows that the world is filled with hateful and discriminatory people. The Chinese government feels that the Muslims in Xinjian are dangerous, and its way to combat its fears of Muslims is to change them. The government feels that taking Muslims away from their families and their homes and “training” them will make them give up their culture.