The Chinese government has reportedly detained more than a million Muslims in reeducation camps. Most of the people who have been arbitrarily detained are Uighur, a predominantly Turkic-speaking ethnic group primarily from China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Human rights organizations, UN officials, and many foreign governments are urging China to stop the crackdown. But Chinese officials maintain that what they call vocational training centers do not infringe on Uighurs’ human rights. They have refused to share information about the detention centers, however, and prevent journalists and foreign investigators from examining them.
When did mass detentions of Muslims start?
Some eight hundred thousand to two million Uighurs and other Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs and Uzbeks, have been detained since April 2017, according to experts and government officials [PDF]. Outside of the camps, the eleven million Uighurs living in Xinjiang have continued to suffer from a decades-long crackdown by Chinese authorities.
Most people in the camps have never been charged with crimes and have no legal avenues to challenge their detentions. The detainees seem to have been targeted for a variety of reasons, according to media reports, including traveling to or contacting people from any of the twenty-six countries China considers sensitive, such as Turkey and Afghanistan; attending services at mosques; and sending texts containing Quranic verses. Often, their only crime is being Muslim, human rights groups say, adding that many Uighurs have been labeled as extremists simply for practicing their religion.
Hundreds of camps are located in Xinjiang. Officially known as the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the northwestern province has been claimed by China since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in 1949. Read more