Human Rights Violations in China Religious Persecution in China

Re-Education Camps in China: Cultural Genocide against the Uighur People

This Sunday (4/6/2019), the Freedom Plaza in DC was a beautiful sight to behold. Hundreds of Uighurs and their supporters were waving American flags and the Blue Banners of East Turkestan, holding a rally protesting the cultural genocide that the Chinese Communist Party launched against the Uighur people in the northwestern China. Among the protesters were Muslims, Christians, Canadians, Australians, and Americans from all over the country.

The Chinese Communist regime has put Uighurs in so-called re-education camps. These detention centers have a lot more in common with concentration camps during the Nazi Germany. “I begged them to kill me.” Tursun, a 29-year-old Uighur woman, cried and told the Congressional-Executive Commission during her testimony on the recent mass detention of hundreds and thousands of Uighurs.

Tursun described her horrible experience in the re-education camp during the rally. She was tortured. Tursun said, “Each time I was given electroshocks, my whole body would shake violently, and I could feel the pain in my veins.” Tursun’s experience is not unique. The United Nations estimated that as many as one million Uighurs have been forced into the re-education camps, where they undergo political indoctrination, abuse, mistreatment and torture. Many family members of Uighurs were abducted by the Chinese government and accused of spreading terrorism and religious extremism.

I  have to admit I was hesitant to join the rally. My remaining fear, implanted by the Communist Party, held me back. In China, the government controls people’s minds by intimidating and threatening people every day and every minute. All Chinese citizens know the consequence – jail terms – of showing up to such rallies. But in the end, my fear was conquered by the grace of God. I joined the protest and firmly stood up with my Uighur brothers and sisters.

Uighur people are beautiful. One of my few beautiful recollections about China is their singing and dancing. They were always happy and cheerful. My father used to work with people of different ethnic groups (Chinese officials call them national minorities). When I was a child, my neighbors were Uighurs. I remember that a Uighur uncle, who was a colleague of my father, often gave me the sweetest raisins that his mother mailed to him from Xinjiang.

Uighurs are proud of their culture. The name Uighur means “to unite” and “to help.” Their ancestors can be traced back 2,000 years, and their language has existed since the eleventh century. They are friendly and generous; when guests visit, the host and hostess serve the most delicious roast lamb and milk tea. But today, the Uighur people are suffering, experiencing the annihilation of their great culture by the Chinese Communist government.

During the rally, I heard a theme voiced repeatedly, that is, “we should not be silent.” When we see our Uighur brothers and sisters in China sent to concentration camps and their children taken to orphanages to be brainwashed, we should not be silent.

Let’s not forget. When the Chinese government initiated the campaign to eliminate the spiritual practice of Falun Gong in China, the persecution started from putting people in the re-education camps. Later, the world was shocked to learn that millions of Falun Gong people were killed, their organs were cut and sold barbarously. We clearly see the same pattern happening to our Uighur brothers and sisters.

“Free Uighurs!” The chant was hovering over the Freedom Plaza, a place that represents a universal human dream. The dream is Freedom – freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and freedom for our children.

Many Uighur children have been forced to separate from their parents and give up their mother tongue. Alphonse Daudet described the last French class of little Franz, a young Alsatian boy. Because of the order from Berlin that no language but German should be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine, little Franz was deprived of his right to learn French. Like little Franz, thousands of Uighur children and their parents were forced to speak Mandarin. “Will it be commanded that the birds, too, speak to us in a foreign language?” I believe that little Uighur Franz would ask the same question.

The world should not tolerate a cultural genocide. Free Uighurs! Free China!

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