'Awful abuses': US denounces China's treatment of Uighurs

 

( The United States continues to speak out against China's crimes against the Uyghur and the other Turkic peoples while the other liberal democracies are continuing to sleep on the switch. When will you say something Theresa MayAngela MerkelEmmanuel MacronJustin Trudeau? )

 

The United States has ​denounced China’s treatment of its Uighur Muslims in unusually strong terms, adding to a growing list of disputes in increasingly turbulent relations between the two powers.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, voiced alarm after a United Nations report described the mass internment of Uighurs under the pretext of preventing extremism in the western Xinjiang region where the minority group is concentrated.

“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech on the state of religious freedom around the world.

“Their religious beliefs are decimated,” Pompeo said.

In a letter to Pompeo and the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, and both Republican and Democratic members of Congress late last month called for sanctions on Chinese officials implicated in the internment of Uighurs.

Pompeo did not say whether the United States would take punitive measures but his remarks were striking for their tone, with ​Donald Trump’s administration putting human rights on the back seat in relations with allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The Trump administration itself has faced criticism at home and abroad for its stance on Muslims, with the president as a candidate calling for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States and, soon after taking office, barring entry to citizens of several Muslim-majority countries.

Pompeo also expressed concern about the fate of Christians in China, who he said had been targeted in a government crackdown.

The government, he said, has been “closing churches, burning Bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith”.

In an interview earlier in the week, Pompeo had described China as a greater threat to the United States than Russia, saying that Beijing was a “non-transparent government”.

“It treats our intellectual property horribly, it treats its religious minorities horribly,” he told Fox News.

China has rejected the findings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last month that the report was “based on so-called information that is yet to be verified and has no factual basis”.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Uyghur Professors from Xinjiang University Held in Political ‘Re-education Camps’

 

Abdukerim Rahman (L) and Arslan Abdulla (R)

 

At least five ethnic Uyghur professors from one of the top universities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are being held in political “re-education camps,” according to one of their former colleagues and an official with the school who confirmed their detentions.

Qutluq Almas, a former lecturer at Xinjiang University in the XUAR capital Urumqi living in exile in the U.S., recently posted a message on social media saying sources inside the region had confirmed to him that literature professors Abdukerim Rahman, Rahile Dawut, Azat Sultan and Gheyretjan Osman were detained in January, while former language professor Arslan Abdulla was arrested later.

“According to credible information I have received, [Rahman] is currently held in a so-called ‘re-education camp,’” Almas said of the academic, who is in his 80s.

“I don’t know what his situation is at the moment.”

Dawut, Sultan and Osman were taken to camps as well, he added, although he did not provide information on when they were arrested.

Abdulla, in his 70s, “was taken to one of the camps seven or eight months ago,” the former professor said.

Established in 1924, Xinjiang University currently has an undergraduate enrolment of more than 20,000 students, and counts among its alumni president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress exile group Dolkun Isa.

Beginning in April 2017, Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been jailed or detained in political “re-education camps” throughout the XUAR, where members of the ethnic group have long complained of pervasive discrimination, religious repression, and cultural suppression under Chinese rule.

Sources, including Almas, have told RFA’s Uyghur Service that at least 56 Uyghur lecturers and researchers from Xinjiang University are currently held in re-education camps, but the new information marks the first time any of their identities could be verified.

In order to confirm the former lecturer’s claims, RFA contacted Xinjiang University, and an employee there directed inquiries about the five professors to the University’s General Supervision Office, also known as the “Headquarters.”

A staffer at the Headquarters told RFA that she had “no information regarding their cases” and that “nothing about them has been disclosed yet.”

She was unable to provide information about whether the professors are being held together, or whether it was university’s Disciplinary Department or Police Department that handled their cases.

When asked why the professors were detained, the staffer said that the accusations against them “are all the same, but I don’t know the reasons for their arrests.”

She refused to disclose who had replaced the professors, or whether their cases were being treated as “state security” matters.

Uyghur educators

Last week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US government was "deeply troubled" by the crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, adding that “credible reports indicate that individuals sent by Chinese authorities to detention centers since April 2017 numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions.”

The official warned that “indiscriminate and disproportionate controls on ethnic minorities’ expressions of their cultural and religious identities have the potential to incite radicalization and recruitment to violence.”

A group of U.S. lawmakers, in a recent letter, asked President Donald Trump’s administration to “swiftly act” to sanction Chinese government officials and entities complicit in or directing the “ongoing human rights crisis” in Xinjiang.

The position of China's central government authorities has evolved from denying that large numbers of Uyghurs have been incarcerated in camps to disputing that the facilities are political re-education camps. Beijing now describes the camps as educational centers.

Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the re-education camps, which equates to 10 to11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.

Uyghur educators are kept under strict monitoring in the XUAR and can face stiff punishment for not adhering to Beijing’s narrative about how China’s central government’s policies are benefitting the region and its ethnic minorities.

In September 2014, a court sentenced outspoken economics professor Ilham Tohti, who regularly highlighted the religious and cultural persecution of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority in the XUAR, to a life term behind bars on charges of promoting separatism.

The court decision cited Tohti’s criticism of Beijing’s ethnic policies, his interviews with overseas media outlets, and his work founding and running the Chinese-language website Uighurbiz.net, which was shut down by Chinese authorities in 2014.

But rights groups say that instead of urging the separation of the XUAR—the Uyghur people’s historic homeland—from China, Tohti had called only for China to implement its own regional autonomy laws and had consistently promoted peace and dialogue between the Han Chinese and Uyghur communities, and have demanded his release.

 

 

 

 

 

Xinjiang’s Kashgar University Sacks Four ‘Two-Faced’ Uyghur Professors

 

        Gulnar Obul in Kashgar

 

At least four Uyghur senior officials from a top university in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) prefecture, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), have been removed from their posts for “two-faced” activities, according to official sources.

A Uyghur source with ties to Kashgar University, who is currently living in exile, informed RFA’s Uyghur Service recently on condition of anonymity that the school’s president Erkin Omer, vice president Muhter Abdughopur, and professors Qurban Osman and Gulnar Obul, had all been scrubbed from its official website as of Sept. 2.

A further investigation of the website found an official news report which said that a decision was made to expel the four professors based on “a comprehensive probe” and “serious consideration” of their cases during a Sept. 2 meeting of high-level cadres at Kashgar University led by a disciplinary committee from the XUAR Education Supervision Bureau.

The report said that the four were sacked based on indications that they exhibited “separatist tendencies” related to their political stance, although it did not state what their exact offenses were, or how they were punished.

While the four professors’ bios had been removed from the Kashgar University website, articles attributed to them remained accessible via other university websites.

RFA contacted a staff member at Kashgar University’s administration office, who confirmed that the four professors had all been removed from their posts.

“Erkin Omer, Muhtar, Kurban [and] Gulnar … were all ‘two-faced,” the staffer said, using a term applied by the government to Uyghur cadres who pay lip service to Communist Party rule in the XUAR, but secretly chafe against state policies repressing members of their ethnic group.

The staffer said that he was unsure whether they are currently at home or detained in the network of political “re-education camps” authorities in the XUAR have detained Uyghurs accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in since April 2017.

“There is some additional information I know, but I’m unable to tell you,” he said.

“You can come to visit us and we can organize a meeting with the lecturers and leaders.”

The staffer said that while the school had found a new vice president, “the new president has not been appointed yet.”

Since new leadership had been appointed at the school “all tasks are being attended to thoroughly and the university is managing very well,” the staffer added.

‘Two-faced’ article

During a telephone interview, an official in Kashgar who also asked to remain unnamed told RFA that Obul had been detained for publishing an article about Uyghur culture and history that included her opinions on religious extremism in 2016.

The official said that while her views were praised at the time, they were now deemed to “go against government policy,” and that “for this reason, she was accused of being ‘two-faced.’”

The article, titled “Dialogue on Cultural Formation in Xinjiang,” contains excerpts of a discussion between Obul and Wang Lisheng, a professor with the Economic Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in China’s capital Beijing.

“It is … impossible to put all the problems [in the XUAR] into a large basket of extreme religious forces,” Obul said, according to the article.

“When a person can't find his roots of his national culture, his thoughts become confused and he can't find where he belongs, and he will be pushed away by the forces of social customs,” she adds.

“This is actually related to a lack of cultural confidence … [and] reminds us that it is really time to think seriously about our cultural identity. As a part of the Chinese national culture, Uyghur culture has a complete set of cultural traditions that have a long history which need to be categorized and passed on.”

Obul also questions Beijing’s efforts at creating “long-term stability” in the XUAR, saying “it cannot be achieved through documents or commands—it requires real cultural strength and ideas” to remove resistance to China’s rule of the region.

“One of the drawbacks of the government is that many of the officials [in the XUAR] do not know much about Islam and its history,” she says.

“During the transformation of contemporary thought, Uyghur intellectuals were left out of the movement.”

 

       Erkin Omer  in Kashgar

 

Camp network

Last week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. government was "deeply troubled" by the crackdown on Uyghurs in Xinjiang, adding that “credible reports indicate that individuals sent by Chinese authorities to detention centers since April 2017 numbers at least in the hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions.”

The official warned that “indiscriminate and disproportionate controls on ethnic minorities’ expressions of their cultural and religious identities have the potential to incite radicalization and recruitment to violence.”

A group of U.S. lawmakers, in a recent letter, asked President Donald Trump’s administration to “swiftly act” to sanction Chinese government officials and entities complicit in or directing the “ongoing human rights crisis” in Xinjiang.

The position of China's central government authorities has evolved from denying that large numbers of Uyghurs have been incarcerated in camps to disputing that the facilities are political re-education camps. Beijing now describes the camps as educational centers.

Adrian Zenz, a lecturer in social research methods at the Germany-based European School of Culture and Theology, has said some 1.1 million people are or have been detained in the re-education camps, which equates to 10 to 11 percent of the adult Muslim population of the region.

Uyghur educators

Uyghur educators are kept under strict monitoring in the XUAR and can face stiff punishment for not adhering to Beijing’s narrative about how China’s central government’s policies are benefitting the region and its ethnic minorities.

In September 2014, a court sentenced outspoken economics professor Ilham Tohti, who regularly highlighted the religious and cultural persecution of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority in the XUAR, to a life term behind bars on charges of promoting separatism.

The court decision cited Tohti’s criticism of Beijing’s ethnic policies, his interviews with overseas media outlets, and his work founding and running the Chinese-language website Uighurbiz.net, which was shut down by Chinese authorities in 2014.

But rights groups say that instead of urging the separation of the XUAR—the Uyghur people’s historic homeland—from China, Tohti had called only for China to implement its own regional autonomy laws and had consistently promoted peace and dialogue between the Han Chinese and Uyghur communities, and have demanded his release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Xinjiang authorities build massive underground prison

 

The building, constructed as a regular prison, will have extensive secret underground facilities and is planned to accommodate at least 10,000 inmates.

“Construction of the relocated Karamay city prison” written on the gate to the site

 

According to informed sources, the municipal government of Karamay, Xinjiang has put other construction projects on hold to speed up the building of a detention facility located at the Ayi Kule Reservoir on the western outskirts of Karamay, to be completed in October. The facility is only five meters above the ground but goes 40 meters below it, which is kept secret. According to plans, the facility will accommodate over 10,000 prisoners.

According to reports, as the Xinjiang authorities continue mass arrests and imprisonment of Muslims and other religious adherents and dissidents, “transformation through education” camps have become overcrowded; according to some scholars one million of Muslims are held there.

As Bitter Winter has reported earlier, state-owned buildings, like hospitals, factories, and schools have been converted into secret detention facilities. At some of the camps, detainees are forced to share beds and take turns sleeping due to the overcrowding. The Xinjiang authorities are expending every effort to construct the new secret prison to accommodate more detained people.

 

View of the underground prison with watchtowers

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. deports former Nazi camp guard to Germany

 

The Trump administration deported a former Nazi labor camp guard to Germany early Tuesday, the White House said in a statement.

Jakiw Palij, 95, had been living in Queens, New York, for years after lying to U.S. immigration officials about his role in World War II. His U.S. citizenship was revoked in 2003 and he was ordered deported the following year, but countries including Germany refused to take him then.

Palij was born in what was formerly Poland and is now Ukraine, the White House said. He worked as a Nazi labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland before immigrating to the U.S. in 1949.

“Palij’s removal sends a strong message,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil.”

 

 

 

 

 

Power by: Arslan Rahman