Can you imagine being arrested for having a friend or family member abroad, inviting more than five people to your house without informing the local police, performing a traditional funeral or for having too many children? Would you consider this oppressive treatment by your government fair? For Uighur Muslims in East Turkestan, this is an everyday reality.
In fact, the list is long and most of the reasons why a Uighur Muslim can be arrested and incarcerated in a concentration camp would be deemed as human rights abuses in most countries.
International media says the number of Uighurs unjustly incarcerated in concentration camps is more than 1 million, while the US State Department puts the figure at 2 million and Uighur rights groups suggest it is closer to 3 million.
China claims the facilities are re-education camps but anyone who has come out of them has confirmed they are worse than prisons.
With over 60 people in small containment rooms, there isn’t enough room for everyone to sleep. People take turns standing, so others can sleep for a couple of hours. With so many people locked up together in the same room, without a toilet, they have to use a bucket for excretions.
Almost all of the survivors of the camps reported beating as a punishment for the most trivial of offences. Even women have scars and marks of beating all over their bodies.
Medicines are forcibly administered to women to stop their periods. In some women, they cause bleeding from the uterus. Some survivors report being given injections and medications without being informed of the contents. Blood is also drawn without permission. Several women survivors report being gang-raped by guards at the facilities. Some even during their teenage years.
Uighurs detained in the camps are subjected to physical torture. Some report being tied to a hard chair all day long while others report other forms of torture.
Muslims are made to chant “Communist Party Akbar” instead of the traditional “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) that Muslims say to praise and glorify God.
For many Uighurs, their “re-education” ends in a slow, painful death behind the walls of a secret facility.
According to an estimate, one hundred and thirty thousand Uighurs die every month and this number excludes children.
Which is why the Chinese Government is doing everything in its power to keep the program shrouded in secrecy.
Most facilities are located in remote parts of the country that are essentially cut off from civilisation, surrounded by tall, fort-like walls covered with razor-wire fences. These are the facilities that China claims are re-education camps.
Visitors are not allowed and reporters or unauthorised personnel approaching the direction of the camps are followed and escorted away. There is heavy surveillance in and around the facilities similar to, possibly even greater than what is seen in prisons. There has been proof of cremation facilities near the camps which indicates an ability to quickly burn the bodies of victims.
Since the world has started paying attention to China’s camps, it has started organising staged visits for key officials to appease to them by altering reality. State television airs propaganda re-affirming the Chinese narrative and that those attending the camps are not only wilfully there but are enjoying themselves.
Makes one realise the valuable lesson of the hadith: “Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of Allah.'