Our Second Chance to Stop a Holocaust

What would you do if the Holocaust were occurring in Germany within your lifetime, right now? Would you look away and continue watching your favorite tv series? Would you shrug, say, “Oh, that’s awful!” and go on with your day because it doesn’t affect you? What would you do? What could you do? Today, we have an opportunity to help the victims of a totalitarian government by pressuring China to end its human rights violations against its Muslim minority.

“Religion was considered incompatible with Communism…”

-Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch
photo of an brick, abandoned, x-marked building with chains and padlock securing the wooden door handles
An emptied Uyghur town in Xinjiang, China. Its residents were imprisoned in Chinese concentration camps. Still shot from “China Has Detained More Than a Million Muslims” on Now This News.

What we know

According to U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Defense estimates, China has imprisoned almost three million Muslim Uyghur people in about 100 concentration camps all over Xinjiang. The prisoners suffer torture and Communist Party ideology brainwashing because their faith threatens the Chinese government’s authority.

Police cutting Muslim women’s tunics because they were too long. Still shots from “Police cut Muslim Uyghur women’s dresses for being too long in Xinjiang, China | East Turkestan” on YouTube

A top Chinese official claimed, “measures were taken to fight extremism, ensure stability, and protect the whole country.” How does a policeman using scissors to cut an Uyghur woman’s tunic in public because it goes past her hips fight extremism? How does forcing Uyghurs to sell and serve alcohol (which is against Islamic edict) ensure stability?

frowning Uyghur men in ethnic costume
Uyghur men looking on disapprovingly at a cultural performance for tourists. This event served alcohol which is against Islamic traditions. Still shot from “China’s Problems with the Uyghurs” on YouTube.

“There is no such thing as religion.
All hail the Chinese State.
All hail Chinese President Xi Jinping.”

political education chants, according to Aydin Anwar, Uyghur-American activist

A works program from Hell

metal torture chair with straps for arms and legs
Concentration camp victims are tied down for hours on hard metal “Tiger Chairs” while legs and buttocks swell painfully. Image from “China Has Detained More Than a Million Muslims” on YouTube.

The Chinese government calls them “vocational training centers” or political education camps, but have you ever heard of a job-training program that:

  • Is surrounded by razor wire and watchtowers
  • Beats and starves participants who cannot memorize written propaganda in a foreign language in two weeks (many detainees are illiterate farmers who only speak Uyghur or Kazakh)
  • Pulls teeth
  • Rips off finger- and toenails
  • Forces abortion on women with two or more children
  • Straps people to a metal chair for hours, causing pain and swelling of the lower body
  • Forces detainees to stand next to a wall for hours
  • Suspends prisoners for days without rest by their outstretched arms so they can barely touch the floor
  • Causes participants to commit suicide
  • Offers an indeterminate detention period
  • Purges religion

What about the rest of the Uyghurs?

“They’re told that to be religious or to be a Muslim is to have a psychiatric disorder.”

-Sophie Richardson, China Director of Human Rights Watch
Uyghur girl with colorful head covering and white tunic
This Uyghur girl is about the age of my daughters. She will be taught to hate everything she is – her religion, her ethnicity, her family – and become a good Communist Party memeber. Photo by Todenhoff on Flickr
  • Uyghurs who have left China say at least one person from every family is in these camps.
  • Children younger than 18 are not allowed inside mosques for services.
  • Uyghurs can only use an altered, government-sanctioned version of the Quran containing Communist Party ideas. This deeply offensive and morally unacceptable blasphemy would normally cause Muslim riots all over the world.
  • Uyghur parents cannot teach their own children about Islam or their ethnic identity.
  • Chinese government officials stationed in Uyghur families’ homes closely monitor them, making sure the family watches State TV and doesn’t follow Islamic practices. This situation can easily lead to abuse of power in the form of extortion, rape, and theft.
  • Children are routinely taken from their families and raised in crowded government orphanages. There are no home visits.
  • Parents cannot give their children certain Muslim names.

What about women’s rights?

Uyghur women prefer to wear hijabs. Now they are forced to conform to Chinese national norms to avoid persecution.

Communism, the supposed ideal of social equality, has no tolerance for those making choices that go against government policy.

  • Uyghur women are not supposed to wear hijabs or longer length tunics.
  • Uyghur women are pressured to marry Han (China’s ethnic majority) instead of Uyghur men and marry outside of their religion in order to dilute their culture.
  • She must marry in a state ceremony instead of a religious one or risk arrest and “re-education.”
Inside a re-education classroom in which students repeat Communist Party and anti-Muslim mantras. Notice the girls are without traditional head garb.

Concentration camp-worthy crimes

  • Being Uyghur
  • Downloading WhatsApp
  • Refusing to watch State TV Having or contacting family outside of China
  • Traveling into China to visit family
  • Purchasing more food than usual – to discourage large family gatherings and celebrations.
  • Marrying in a religious instead of a state ceremony

This is the systematic extinction of a people. Where is the United Nations? Where is the condemnation of the rest of the world?

China is pouring a lot of money into the region as it builds a modern Silk Road through Xinjiang, using its bountiful resources (coal, oil, natural gas) to power China and Chinese expansion. Removing all the native peoples and obliterating their culture makes this act of resource mining nothing less than theft. The United States is not innocent in its dealings with native populations, but we can’t do anything about historical wrongs. We can do something about this situation, now.

How can I help?

four adults in blue Volunteer shirts looking at their phones while standing in a green space
Tell as many people as possible about what’s going on in China. Talk about it. Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Use social media to spread the message. Show the Uyghurs that the rest of the world cares. Individuals, without the weight of international agreements or diplomacy, can act even if our governments won’t. We can use social media and hashtag the bejeezus out of this issue.

This is not fake news. If you see pictures of Uyghur women wearing hijabs, men with long beards, smiling Uyghurs playing music for tourists, and concentration camps without razor wire, remember that China is a Communist country that controls its media and shapes the narrative, much like North Korea but with more money and finesse. Uyghurs who have left China are telling the real story.

#China #Muslims #HumanRights #Turkic #Uyghurs #SayNoToChina #NotMadeInChina #BoycottChina #FreeUyghurs #Freedom4Uyghurs

Boycott as many products made in China as possible and vote with your dollars. It won’t be easy; almost everything is Made in China, including 85% of our pills and many medical internal valves and pumps. We can pay more or just buy less stuff. Either way is a win and a small price to support the Uyghurs.

Continuing to buy Chinese sends the message we are fine with the situation and it’s business as usual. As a mother and an American, I condemn China’s ruthless treatment of the Uyghurs.

Email your elected officials and let them know your opinion on the matter.

Why care?

Twice before my country separated children and families to erase their culture, i.e., Native Hawaiians and Native Americans. I am furious that it’s happening to Uyghur families.

China has gotten away with human rights atrocities before. No more. We have a duty to say, “We do not associate with bullies,” otherwise, it’s guilt by association.

Knowing but doing nothing darkens our souls and reflects poorly on the Land of the Free.

We boycotted South Africa for apartheid, yet, apartheid pales in comparison to the extent of China’s human rights violations.

China is an economic and military powerhouse. Ignoring this behavior normalizes it and makes it acceptable for everyone else: “Well, ya, he beats his wife, but he’s a great golfer and he always brings snacks!” No. We can’t continue to love cheap stuff Made in China more than we care about fellow humans.

It can happen here

Why not? Increasing strangleholds on free speech at the commercial and institutional level are grim portents of a restrictive society that starts to round people up and take their stuff.

Germany taught us anyone can end up sleeping with the devil. Before its dark turn in the early twentieth century, Germany was the pinnacle of education, the arts, science, technology, a strong feminist movement with voting and legal abortion, and equal rights for women and gays (Hett). Germany was us.

Ignore the signs at your peril.

“You are the average of the five people you most associate with.”

-Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and Tools of Titans

Well, U.S.A., we’re spending a lot of time with China.

open doorway to a World War II era gas chamber
Gas chamber door in a German concentration camp. Now that we know about China’s human rights abuses, will we continue as if nothing is wrong? Photo by Václav Pluhař on Unsplash

Your Take

We are in a re-do of Nazi Germany, 86 years later. We can stop it before it gets worse. The Chinese hate losing face and this behavior is disgraceful. If the rest of the world doesn’t flinch and says, “We know what you are doing and it must end,” they will have to stop. It works: concentration camp prisoners were released shortly after their Kazakh relatives in Turkey posted testimonials about their detention online.

Chinese Muslims don’t need money or a concert. They need to know the world sees them and will help.

What will you do?


Works Cited (in case links break or are taken down)

“China Has Detained More Than a Million Muslims | Op-Ed |Now This.” YouTube, uploaded by Now This News, 13 December 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=zmaqJDlWwrs.

“China: Massive Crackdown in Muslim Region.” Human Rights Watch, September 9, 2018, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/09/09/china-massive-crackdown-muslim-region.

“China Muslims Repressed, Monitored, Forced into Camps.” YouTube, uploaded by Human Rights Watch, 10 September 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=89&v=Kv_Qsr9lvfA.

“China’s Problems with the Uyghurs (Documentary from 2014 in HD).” YouTube, uploaded by wocomoDOCS, 15 February 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ3fG-tnzCk.

Cockerell, Isobel. “Inside China’s Massive Surveillance Operation.” Wired, 9 May 2019,  https://www.wired.com/story/inside-chinas-massive-surveillance-operation/.

Hett, Benjamin C. The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. Print.

Irama. “Chinese Occupation and Oppression of Uighurs.” YouTube, April 7, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZo7RnfBzdg.

Martinez, Didi, B. Breslauer and S. Gosk. “Tainted drugs: Ex-FDA inspector warns of dangers in U.S. meds made in China, India.” NBC News, 10 May 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/tainted-drugs-ex-fda-inspector-warns-dangers-u-s-meds-n1002971.

Reuters. “US accuses China of using ‘concentration camps’ against Muslim minority.” The Guardian, 3 May 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/04/us-accuses-china-of-using-concentration-camps-uighur-muslim-minority.

Schmidt, Rob, host. “’They Ordered Me To Get An Abortion’: A Chinese Woman’s Ordeal In Xinjiang.” Special Series: The Disappeared: China’s Draconian Imprisonment of a People, NPR, 23 November 2018, https://www.npr.org/2018/11/23/669203831/they-ordered-me-to-get-an-abortion-a-chinese-womans-ordeal-in-xinjiang.

“Police cut Muslim Uyghur women’s dresses for being too long in Xinjiang, China | East Turkestan.” YouTube, uploaded by Sayeeda, Manzoor, 23 July 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80rzMWtzEO8.

Shih, Gerry. “China’s mass indoctrination camps evoke Cultural Revolution.” AP NEWS, May 17, 2019, https://apnews.com/6e151296fb194f85ba69a8babd972e4b.

3 thoughts on “Our Second Chance to Stop a Holocaust”

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