China’s Internment Camps Mirror Brutality of Hitler’s Era

Last updated on November 21st, 2019

The era of Adolf Hitler that saw ruthless persecution of the “undesirables” in Germany, has come alive after decades for the unwanted groups in China, under the rule of President Xi Jinping.

From the past three years, Muslim minority groups in China are being held in the internment camps in the Xinjiang region, which have been painted as training schools for extremists or potential terrorists. However, the reality behind the displayed pictures is much more severe than the world already knew about.

The New York Times recently obtained hundreds of internal Chinese government documents revealing the dreadful details about the mass detention of ethnic minorities. In one of the most significant leaks from China’s ruling Communist Party in decades, the bombshell report revealed the internal affairs regarding the cruel crackdown on the Muslims in the country.

Since 2016, as many as a million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Muslims from other ethnic minorities have been incarcerated in the internment camps. The officials have for long downplayed the international criticism and described the camps as their answer to combat the Islamic extremism, and have also stated that they have been created to offer benefits like job training to Muslims.

However, the leaked more than 400 government papers containing Xi’s covert speeches, bring to light how the Chinese officials justify the huge network of the camps in Xinjiang Province. The Chinese Communist Party describes the Islamic radicalism as a “virus” that needed to be “eradicated”. In wake of the ideology, several people are put through months or even years of persuasion programs, with hopes of making them the supporter of the party.

Unveiling Xi’s speeches of 2014, after Uyghur Muslim’s attack on a train station that took 31 lives, the documents offer details about how party officials were encouraged to follow parts of America’s “war on terror” since the September 11 attacks. “Show absolutely no mercy,” Xi stated the officials.

The leaked documents also contain instructions for the local officials, directing them on how to calm down the students who return home from universities only to find their family members missing. The papers highlight a scornful manner which the authorities are supposed to opt for telling the students that their loved ones had been “infected” by the “virus” of radicalism and needed to be isolated for treatment.

“Treasure this chance for free education that the party and government has provided to thoroughly eradicate erroneous thinking, and also learn Chinese and job skills,” they were told to say. “This offers a great foundation for a happy life for your family.”

In the past three years, details about the internment camps of China have constantly emerged with a new aspect that the world has been mostly kept away from. The leaked government documents provided a clearer picture of the painted portrait of the camps, where “no mercy” has been the ideology for Uyghurs and other minorities.

Xi Jinping’s actions do smell of the brutality witnessed during the Nazi period under Hitler’s rule, where several groups that were considered unfit — Jews, Serbs, Romanis/Sintis, Soviet POWs, Poles, disabled people, and clergymen — were kept in concentration camps and tortured.

A single difference remain in the two worlds is highlighted in Xi’s speeches, which show that he does not believe Islam should be “restricted or eradicated” as a whole, but does describe Islamic extremism as toxic. Moreover, he didn’t call for mass detentions explicitly.

Despite the absent words in speeches, the actions have been loud enough to represent China’s intentions behind detaining around a million Uyghurs and Muslim minorities. If mass detentions have not been the order and Islam not a hate zone for Xi Jinping, were the experiences shared by the people who have come out of these camps a fake story?

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