The Second Holocaust?

Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a camp in Hotan Prefecture.  Courtesy of Al Jazeera

Government social media post in April 2017 shows detainees in a camp in Hotan Prefecture. Courtesy of Al Jazeera

Right now there are 12 million Muslims in Chinese concentration camps facing ethnic cleansing. In these camps, Muslims are being reeducated, forced to do things that are considered sinful, and are being separated from their children. Refusal to cooperate may lead to torture or even death.  After the holocaust, all of humankind promised themselves that they would never let something like this happen again. Now it seems that promise was broken.

For two years now the Chinese government has been trying to strip an ethnic group in China called the Uighurs, of their culture. The Uighurs are predominantly Muslim and the Chinese communist party has been taking action to turn this ethnic group of 12,123,000 people into devote followers of Xi Jinping, the Chinese president. Throughout their time in these concentration camps, the Uighurs are forced to drink alcohol, eat pork, and commit other actions considered sinful in the Islamic faith. If they refuse to do so, then they are met with torture and possibly death. 

The few who managed to escape the camps are starting to speak out. PBS Frontline spoke with Gulzira and Rahima, two former detainees. “If you exceeded two minutes on the toilet, they would hit you hid with an electric prod.” This is a clear violation of human rights and stands against the foundations on which America was created. Despite these camps going against everything the US stands for, US government officials and individuals in seats of high power do not seem moved enough to take action.

While this ethnic cleansing has been going on for two years, the US government has not done much about it.  In fact, the US relations with China just seem to be unaffected by Xi’s actions against the Uighurs. “I think its gonna get worse from here if these relations continue,” says Aaliyah Momin. Many Americans like Aaliyah Momin think that America’s relationship with China gives Xi Jinping no incentive to stop torturing these Muslims. They are of this opinion because China is not losing anything despite attempting to ethnically cleanse an entire group of people.

“Islamophobia is so normalized, everyone just brushes it off,” says Parkview student Aariana Mysura. The normalization of Islamophobia negatively affects Americans. Mysura explains her father had to close down his restaurant because of the rampant Islamophobia in the community.  With islamophobia normalized, the livelihoods of many valuable American citizens are damaged, as well as the potential contributions they make to American culture and the economy.

Despite the negative impact this is having on Americans as well, President Trump seems to encourage the Uighur concentration camps.  According to Business Insider, a former advisor of Donald Trump stated, “Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”  Promoting the incarceration, torture, and even death of Muslims as is occurring in these concentration camps. “I don’t wanna fear for my life when doing something as simple as practicing my religion, but unfortunately, all I feel is fear when doing simple things like praying in public or going to the airport,” says Parkview parent, Fozia Ashraf. Fearing harassment, or fearing for one’s life exemplifies the desperation of the situation. 

Despite Xi Jinping enacting genocide, few American news outlets regularly cover it. Because of this, few Americans seem to know it is occurring. Many have instead taken to social media to express their concerns about Muslims in concentration camps. Social media has been instrumental in promoting greater awareness of the situation.  Many are hopeful that this promotion of awareness will lead to measures being taken to prevent the complete ethnic cleansing of the Uighur people.