On Friday, January 11, 2019, the Guardian’s Lily Kuo reported that Muslim minorities are being held captive in internment camps in the Xinjiang region of China. As people gather outside to see their loved ones, many prisoners are kept in the camps between months and years before receiving a trial, but according to Adil Awut, a former citizen of Hotan City, “If you go into a concentration camp in Luopu, you never come out.” Although the Chinese government has defended their policies concerning internment camps and insists they are peaceful and benign, the United Nations demanded direct access to the camps in December 2018. This occurred following reports that 1.1 million ethnic minorities were being detained in internment camps officially known as “Vocational Training Centers.” Nevertheless, local authorities in Luopu County are expanding the camps through intimidation, force, and bribery which has lead citizens to urge Muslim visitors to avoid Luopo. The Chinese government’s domestic security expenses doubled in 2017 while Luopu County exceeded its budget by 300 percent, leading some to believe that the Chinese government cannot afford to fund the camps.
Muslims are being detained in China because of the extremist stereotypes placed on foreigners outside of China. China detains thousands of Muslims just because they occupy the majority of the Luopo area, not because they have done anything illegal. As the Guardian and other news outlegs have reported, the Chinese have detained many members of the Uighhur community, including students.
There is minimal coverage in the establishment media about the Chinese internment camps. This lack of media coverage in the United States is no surprise considering the current relationship that our administration has with China. President Trump had yet to address the mass internment of Muslims in China and the White House has not addressed the issue.
Source: Lily Kou, “‘If you enter a camp, you never come out’: inside China’s war on Islam,” The Guardian, January 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/11/if-you-enter-a-camp-you-never-come-out-inside-chinas-war-on-islam.
Student Researchers: Katelyn Drew, Georgina Mensah, Kayla Timmins, and Mary Yates (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Faculty Evaluator: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)