China has been added to the list of case studies for its mass internment of Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHHM) on Thursday.
The USHHM said the three-year-old camp system which Beijing calls “training centres” represented “crimes against humanity.”
China joins Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Zimbabwe on the center’s list of perpetrators.
In March, Naomi Kikoler, the center’s director, noted that crimes against humanity were born out of the experiences of the Holocaust and were first prosecuted at Nuremberg through a series of military tribunals held after World War II in 1945-46 by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war.
“Every government has committed to protect their populations from crimes against humanity,” she said at the time.
“In this case, there is a reasonable basis to believe that the Chinese government is failing in this regard, and they are committing the crimes against humanity of persecution and imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty.”
The museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide added China as an “area of focus” to its list of nations that include “historical cases of genocide and other atrocities, places where mass atrocities are currently underway or populations are under threat, and areas where early warning signs call for concern and preventive action.”
In particular, the centre highlighted the XUAR’s vast network of internment camps, where up to 1.8 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harbouring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas are believed to have been held since April 2017.
Also cited by the centre was the government’s use of “sophisticated social and technological surveillance systems in order to control everyday aspects of Uyghur life.”
“The Chinese government is systematically persecuting Uighurs and other Muslim minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity,” the centre says in its case study.
“There is a reasonable basis to believe that the government of China is committing crimes against humanity … The massive surveillance and detention infrastructure China has constructed poses a significant threat to the Uyghur people, whose ability to express through cultural and religious practice their unique identity is seriously infringed.”
While Beijing initially denied the existence of internment camps in the XUAR, China last year changed tack and began describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization, and help protect the country from terrorism.
But reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets indicate that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often-overcrowded facilities. (Source: RFA)