China has always been heavily criticized by human rights organizations for its infamously inhumane treatments to the people of Xinjiang. Uyghurs, or Uighurs are an ethnic minority group that resides in Xinjiang northwest China. The Beijing government has been imprisoning and killing the turkic muslims, sending them to indoctrination camps, or what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would call “vocational and re-education centers”, forcing them to forsake their religions, beliefs, heritage. Inside these camps, Uyghurs are forced to study Mandarin all day, everyday. The muslim community is banned from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan or visiting mosques. Mosques are left vacant in Xinjiang because the people of Uyghur are petrified of getting into trouble for praying; Uyghur women are victims of forced sterilization in order to zero down the birth rates of the muslim population. Having too many children as a Muslim can send you to an reeducation camp in Xinjiang.
About a million Uyghurs have suffered from the cruelty and ferocity CCP has nailed on Xinjiang.
Ever since President Xi Jinping came into power, Xi made certain that all religions in China must be CCP-oriented. Hence a fast crackdown on religions has always been in the agenda of Xi. Xi also wants to eliminate the people of Uyghurs.
When foreign media finally shed lights on the secretive cultural genocide taking place in Xinjiang, forced labor tied to multi-billion dollar fashion corporations like H&M and Marks & Spencers was exposed. A glimpse of hope for the ethnic minority is finally rising on the dark horizon.
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In Xinjiang, webs of surveillance are spinning region-wide:In every 50 yards, there are police guards and checkpoints for identity verification facial recognition cameras. High-end CCTV cameras are installed in and outside their homes and on every street corner. There is no privacy in Xinjiang.
Currently, There are over 400 detention camps known in Xinjiang. These camps, are designed to hold anyone who is considered a terrorist or a threat to China’s national security. As historian Jonathan Hyslop puts it,
“concentration camps are a doctrine of military necessity as justifying extreme violence, even including civilians who are considered dangerous.”
The Inter-parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) also said in a recent statement that “A body of mounting evidence now exists, alleging mass incarceration, indoctrination, extrajudicial detention, invasive surveillance, forced labor, and the destruction of Uighur cultural sites, including cemeteries, together with other forms of abuse,”.
IPAC’s statement paints a realistic yet cruel picture of Uyghur’s everyday life.
Similar to the German Nazi’s concentration camps, the indoctrination camps in Xinjiang are nothing but terrors, humiliations, violations and abuses of human rights and their dignity. No matter how hard Beijing tries to sugarcoat, there is no hiding the stench that comes from this foul-smelling defecation : Harsh forced labors, solitary confinement with no food and water, a day-long punishment on the tiger chair are only some of the touturous treatments the Uyghur civilians get for being different from Han Chinese, for being muslims. They are forced to eat pork against their religion Islam. China’s ultimate goal is to convert every Uyghur into Han chinese, and to have them bow down to CCP. In the eyes of CCP, if they don’t, they can die.
As usual, China and its officials continue to deny any allegations of abusing the Uyghur community or the existence of the concentration camps.
One should not be surprised, however, to see the similar tactics China has been using on Hong Kong to gain control of the once-colonial city — which has been enjoying the first world level of democracy and freedom.
Like Tibet, Taiwan and Xinjiang, Hong Kong is now considered a national threat to the Beijing government, as the majority of its population disagrees with the regime through protests and strikes. Hong Kongers have been fighting tirelessly to defend its own frontier of freedom, basic rights and democracy as they watch it deteriorate.
In 2019, San Uk Ling, a large, remote, holding facilicity in Hong Kong suddenly caught the spotlight due to allegations of police’s brutal and sexual abuse inside the detention center. The Hong Kong government has been quietly spending taxpayers’ money to expand San UK Ling into a mega “training” camp for police target training and holding prisoners. The structure and design of it is comparative to the detention camps in Xinjiang. The location of it makes it even more sinister: San Uk Ling is only minutes away from mainland China via Lowu border.
Since 2019, Hong Kongers have been facing secret extraditions to China. Recently 12 Hong Kongers, who fled in a speedboat to Taiwan, were arrested and tried in Shenzhen China for smuggling. Government helicopters were caught “escorting” the boat, until it reaches the China water. After being held in custody and banned from seeing their families for over 140 days, they have been sentenced to jail in China. Among the 12 young people, 2 were underage.
That is why Hong Kongers have been protesting against the extradition bill. Unfortunately, despite of the bill “being dead”, people can still be extradited to China secretly and illegally.
Pro-democracy activists and politicans such as Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Tam Ho-man had been stalked by Chinese national security police. Protesters went missing; bodies found at sea. The city believes that these people have been “taken care of” by Chinese police. How odd is it when a 15-year-old swimmer Christy Chan Yin Lam was found afloat naked at sea, HKPF claimed there was no suspicion or foul play involved?
You can’t blame Hong Kong citizens for following the breadcrumb trail: has Hong Kong become Xinjiang 2.0? Is Hong Kong Government and its leader, Carrie Lam, feeding Hong Kongers to the wild and vicious animal? Are Hong Kong police working with secret Chinese police to erase Hong Kongers and its history, just like they do in Xinjiang?
We are going to dissect the 10 reasons below and let you be the judge of it:
- “Education” : approximiately a million Uighurs are currently being held in detention camps, or what CCP calls vocational and re-education centers. Inside these camps, Uighurs are forced to study Chinese, work as slaves, and treated like lab rats. Uyghurs are Turkic Muslims who make the majority population in Xinjiang. President Xi Jinping, has taken control over freedom and speech in Xinjiang ever since he became the leader of the Communist party. While China tries to decorate these camps with artificial lights and propaganda ornaments on social media, Consortium of Investigative Journalism uncovered a more menacing image of these camps. In a document released by CIJ , the detention camps are described as involuntary indoctrination centers; Ordered to strictly manage and control student activities to prevent escape, all doors, including dormitory, floor doors must be double locked at all times. High water towers stand tall around the camps for heavy surveillance. There are sophicated 360 camera surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms. Any behavioral violations will be severely disciplined and punished. Police are also stationed on site to prevent escape. Their education system is an exhaustive, brainwashing procedure to coerce the uyghurs to love the Chinese Communist Party.
Similar to the detainees in Uyghur,Hong Kong schools have been ordered to display the Chinese flag and students are to sing the Chinese national anthem. National security education is also added into their curricula. Books by activists Joshua wong, LegCo member Tanya Chan have been removed from public libraries due to political conflict, or promotion of democracy.
2. Language: traditionally the Uyghur community has its own native language, Uyghur. But they aren’t allowed to use it. They are forced to learn Mandarin, speak Mandarin. The Chinese regime is doing everything they can to elimiate their native lanuague. The government is trying to convert the uyghurs into “pure nation-loving Chinese”. The CCP is also cloning similar tricks onto Hong Kong by enforcing Putonghua as a second language medium. Since the national security law was imposed, Hong Kong Education Bereau requires all schools and kindergartens to educate children on the motherland’s heritage and national security.
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3. Human right violations: Kazakstan border is connected to Xinjiang where some of the Muslim detainees flee to after being released from the detention camps. A woman named Retina, was being detained for 12 months for having WhatsApp on her phone. During her detention, she was forced to sit on a hard chair for 24 hours. Another woman, Gurlzira , detained for 17 months, said cameras were rotating inside her bedroom, as well as the classrooms. Mesh wires and bars are built around the camps. She recalled, if she or anyone was in the bathroom for over two minutes, they would be hit in the head by electric prod. The physical tortures and mental torment are horrifyingly unimaginable. Detainees are being hit, beaten and yelled at. All because they are not Han Chinese, don’t agree with China or want to be controlled by it. Some people were pushed to insanity by these abuses. Many tried to commit suicide. Some succeeded. The Chinese government says human rights are strictly followed and the dignity is respected fully. But As the world knows, China and human rights have never been on the same planet.
In Hong Kong, many arrestees who participated in the anti-extradition protests had similar experience while they were detained. While some were beaten badly by police, others were sexually abused. Hong kong police continue to deny the allegations. But it is evident when arrestees show up at court in wheelchairs and black eye. If you remember, an ex-UK embassy worker Simon Cheng was kidnapped by Chinese national security, detained against his will until he agreed to confess his “crime” on camera. He was also beaten and put on the tiger chair for hours.
4. Religion: If you go to a mosque in Xinjiang, don't be surprised there are no Muslims inside. China has been known for censoring relgiions and altering them as they please. China Aid is a Christian NGO, which aims to promote awareness of religious freedom in China, said in an interview that censorship China removed “Christ” and “Jesus” from publications, Chinese social media networks and replaced them with the letters JD and YS. Christian churches are forced to study the Book of Xi, instead of the Bible. Muslims are scared of worshipping and praying in their own mosques. They are scared of getting into trouble or taken away by praying to Islam. CBS journalists interviewed some Han chinese, who adamantly said no uighur would say they believe in Islam publicly. They would, however, say they believe in the communist party of China. The lack of respect to religion is beyond shocking.
In Hong Kong, christianity is being tested by political pressure as well. Churches have to support the chinese government. Pope Francis and the Vatican, have been heavily criticized for being silent about the genocide in Xinjiang and the political situation in Hong Kong, even when Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily’s founder, the most prominent catholic democrat in the city was arrested under the national security law. It is only a matter of time the Bible becomes the forbidden book in the concrete jungle.
5. Culture: satellite images show over two dozen Islamic religious sites have been demolished, including mosques. These systemic attacks prove that China will not tolerate any “different beliefs or speech” while the CCP is in power. Chinese government however, claimed that only one mosque has been demolished for safety reasons and all ethnic groups have full freedom of religious belief. Does this sound familiar? Hong Kong government has been singing the same tune about the anti extradition protests and citizens of Hong Kong have full freedom of expression, protests and belies , while the police continue to crack down protests, universities, arrest children, pregnant women, elderly, peaceful protesters or anyone who support democracy. The police even broke into churches to arrests protesters. Mainland Chinese police had also been seen blending into the police force of Hong Kong.
6. Heritage: The government would send Han Chinese who work for the CCP into the homes of Uyghur, collect personal data by documenting their private lives. China calls these programs “Becoming Family”. The Han Chinese who visit the Uyghur families are called their “relatives”. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about it though. In reality, they are nothing but intruding spies sent to create biographical profiles for the government to use against the Uyghurs. These Uyghur families are told to give up their religions and native language by the pseudo relatives. They are told to not pray. Instead, they should sing songs that praise China. Even in their homes, Uyghurs cannot display anything related to their religions and they cannot speak Uyghur. Every living aspect is controlled so the CCP can make sure Uyghurs only worship the party.
Across the border, China is trying hard to remove Cantonese as the official spoken language of Hong Kong. The CCP also plans to wipe out the colonial heritage Hong Kongers have been accustomed to for over 100 years. The CCP is limiting Foreign journalists and humanitarians accessing Hong Kong and democracy-friendly media outlets are now being kicked out as well from entering Chinese press conferences. New outlets such as New York Times has relocated their office and staff away from Hong Kong with the increasing fears of losing press freedom.
With China tightening its grip on freedom and democracy, Hong Kong police now have been given the rights to decide which media and journalists are allowed to conduct journalistic work. Soon movies and internet will all be censored. If that happens, will we still be able to see the freedom of speech, expression or art?
7. Surveillance: In every street corner of Xinjiang, there are cameras recording the lives of Uyghurs. Technology has advanced immensely since President Xi came to power. The CCP wants to capture every Uyghur’s moves. Over 400 technology companies are set in Xinjiang and of many are involved with the surveillance technology used in Xinjiang.
An ex-developer engineer disclosed more insider info with CBS in an interview:
“The Uyghurs are not considered as human beings in the eyes of the Chinese government. They are just lab mice for experiments and research. China is building a surveillance regime against the Uyghurs people. Every move they make are being monitored.”
It is no shock to anyone that those who managed to flee to Kazakstan, said their lives were nothing but fear in Xinjiang. Everyone is scared of being taken away and vanish with no trace. Police come for them at night. There is a QR code on each house and front door. With a single scan, the police officials will know everyone and everything about the particular household. Citizens are required to install an app on their phones which allow the government to monitor what deems suspicious. The police can connect the Uyghurs’ phones to a machine which reads all the data on the devices. It is also one of the reasons why a woman was sent to the “re-education camps” for having WhatsApp.
In Hong Kong, the government recently proposed the system of “health codes” to document citizens’ personal data to keep track of the coronavirus. The HKGov has plans of using similar systematic strategy in Xinjiang to monitor Hong Kong citizens. HkGov claims the health code system will make traveling to China and Macau via Hong Kong much more convenient. Hong Kong citizens, however, strongly believe there is a different agenda. Citizens are fearful of their personal data being sent to China, especially the companies appointed to develop the health code system are from mainland China.
The Hong Kong government also implemented compulsory, or rather, forced data collection from citizens amid the covid-19 pandemic using apps such as StayHomeSafe and LeaveHomeSafe and bluetooth. HKGov said that if your phone is connected to bluetooth on public transport, your location and personal data will automatically be shared for the purpose of “fighting the virus”.
8. DNA collection: In 2017, the Chinese government began to create a data vault by collecting personal data of Uyghurs from facial recognitions, voice recognitions, DNA samples. Hong Kong government, is ventriloquizing similar strategies. The HKGov attempted to install smart lamp posts for facial recognition collection but protesters destroyed them. Recently HKGov launched compulsory Covid-19 testing to collect citizens’ DNA samples across the city.
9. Technology: Leon Technology, a mainland Chinese company, built complete surveillance systems with facial structure and technology in Xinjiang. In a meeting with their executive, CBS undercover Li exposed what the CCP has been doing to the Uyghur community. By using facial recognition cameras on every street, the regime records faces, appearance and behaviours. These cameras are made by Hikvision, a company blacklisted by US government for their human right violations. These cameras are used to create data banks against the Uyghurs. Computers will assess the faces and categorize whether their behaviors are normal, common and dangerous. The government will also use the Integrated Joint Computer Platform System to determine who is dangerous and needs to be removed from society. Anyone deems suspicious will be detained and sent to the detention camps. Most likely without trials. This is called “anti terrorism implementation”. Anything that is used to fight against “terrorism” and for security measures in China is always first tested, used and perfected in Xinjiang.
China uses technology to crack down on freedom of privacy and human rights, and to control people. International scholars are concerned because they are seeing a new form of governance, which is controlled through advanced, predictive, algorithmic surveillance. This is an alarming threat to human rights freedom of democracy around the world.
“This type of surveillance is being exported, implemented or tested in other cities such as Hong Kong. That’s why some of the more radical protesters broke new traffic lights or smart lamps installed by the HKGov on the streets of Hong Kong.”
Another company, which is also an accomplice to cultural genocide and human rights violation is Hauwei. The world’s largest telecommunication firm, which was recently under fire for their plan to build 5G networks overseas in order to steal government top secrets for China. Huawei is classified as a state threat to national security in the US. Huawei is proved to be in direct relation to the human rights violation happening in Xinjiang.
10. Police State: Xinjiang police are everywhere. They regularly stop Uyghur on the streets to check and search for maliciousness. If anyone refuses to show their identities, they will immediately be detained. The police don’t need a reason or protocol.
Like Xinjiang, Hong Kong Police Force are the biggest bullies to unarmed citizens. They have the power to arrest anyone they consider “suspicious” in the city, or whoever opposes the government in a protest. Citizens can be sent to jail without bail. Judicial system is being eroded by the second. Department of Justice in Hong Kong is no longer about justice or fair trials, but more about political imprisonment to teach other citizens a lesson. Pro-Beijing judges are being placed, praised and promoted; judges who seem to have let protesters “off too easily” are either being transferred or “retired”.
A trial’s success in Hong Kong these days is about whose side you are on: An attacker who stabbed protesters is considered a hero, because he is pro-Beijing and government; students who carried a laser pen or bus driver with a screw driver are deemed dangerous to the society and the city. A cab driver who drove his taxi into a crowd and took away a young girl’s legs walked free. A traffic warden is not guilty when he fired his gun right at a teenager’s chest at close range with no warning, while the teenager has been charged for rioting. Raping a 25-year-old using date rape drugs has no consequences, because “the rape is just a claim” when you are police officer. Policemen who harrasssed a helpless pregnant woman and pushed her onto the ground, refused her medical treatment are just doing their duties.
The list goes on.
HKGov further proves its china-fying Hong Kong with the recent mass arrest of 53 democratic politicians, lawmakers, activists, scholars and a human right lawyer, who were involved and participated in the primaries election back in 2020.
The reason? In suspicion of inciting subversion of state power under the National Security Law. How fragile does a country have to be for it to be threatened by an internal election?
By now, you should agree Hong Kongers’ fears are completely justifiable. In fact, people should worry. Who wants to be a prisoner in their own home?
First they come for the opposition with threats in attempt to silence. If nothing works, they frame you, throw you in jail. Or worse, send you to China where you will never see your loved ones or day of light ever again.
Isn’t it time for the free world to stand against China, the abuser, the bully and hold it accountable for its vile attempts on cultural genocide and human right violations? Or would you rather simply sit by and watch our once-beloved city burn into ashes?
Do the right thing, world.
George Lam, Becky Chan of The Yellow Journalism
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