Concentration camps in China

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Concentration camps in China

TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Issatou Hadji and Ivette Sanchez

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What’s Going on?

World War II, which began in 1939 and ended in 1945, was the deadliest and most destructive war in history. Hitler, the leader of the Nazi army, was a anti-semite. He took Jews and put them in concentration camps. In those camps they were tortured and killed. Families were separated, kids were slaughtered, and everyone lived in fear. In these camps prisoners were unloaded, forced to undress, and then loaded back onto trucks where they were massacred with carbon monoxide gas. The bodies were then taken to the forest camp, where they were buried in mass graves or burned in open ovens.

In short, lives were ruined and people were hurt. As a result of all this, 11 million people were murdered during the Holocaust (1.1 million children). 6 million of those victims were Jewish. Other groups targeted by the Nazis were Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and disabled people. Now imagine this happening in the present day. Imagine a 2019 version of the holocaust happening in our time.

China is holding Uighur people captive in concentration camps and is covering it up by calling them “boarding schools”. Thousands of Uighurs are taken to these camps and brain washed. They are stripped of their religion and killed if they try to practice it.

“After all, China has penned an estimated 1 million Muslims into concentration camps in western China. It has sent ethnic Han Chinese to live with Muslim families and report on anyone who refuses to eat pork or shave his beard. It is wrenching children from parents to reprogram them away from their faith and culture in mass orphanages,” according to The Washington Post.

The Uighurs are a Turkic people who live in Central and East Asia. As of 2019, Uighurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China, where they are one of China’s fifty-five officially-recognized ethnic minorities. Uighurs primarily practice Islam. An estimated 80% of Xinjiang’s Uighurs live in the south-western portion of the region, the Tarim Basin.] Outside Xinjiang, the largest community of Uighurs in China is in Taoyuan County, in north-central Hunan. The World Uyghur Congress estimates the Uyghur population outside of China at 1.0–1.6 million”, according to Wikipedia.

What happened in the past is happening in the present, and yet nothing is being done.

The History of the Chinese Government

China has always been known as a strong Communist country located in east Asia. Communism originally started in China after World War I on July 1, 1921, in Shanghai, China.

The Communist party is, in other words, the “ basic political party or the ruling party” of China. Communism is a political/economic system where there is no private ownership and everything is publicly owned. “Their belief is that the state should control basic services for people, relationships with business, which in some cases businesses are state owned, and where the government definitely has to watch over the lives of its citizens.”

The co-founders of the Communist party were Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao, Zhou Enlai, and Mao Zedong. Chen Duxiu was a “Chinese revolutionary socialist, educator, philosopher, and author, who co-founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1921.” He was born on October 8, 1879 and died on May 27, 1942. He accomplished this with Li Dazhao, who was a philosopher as well and served from 1921 to 1927 as its first General Secretary. Li Dazhao was born on October 29, 1889, and died on April 28, 1927. Zhou Enlai was born on March 5, 1898, and “was the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China.”

Zhou was China’s head of government. He served from October 1949 until his death in January 1976. Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893 and was also one of the co-founders of the Communist Party in China and was a Chinese communist revolutionary who then became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, which he “ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.”

During this time people who opposed Communism were arrested. This is also happening in the present day. If anyone protests or shows any sign no matter how big or small of disobedience, they will be thrown in prison and seen as a threat to the Chinese community.

Ms. Strassler, U.S. Current Events History teacher, said that “If you didn’t agree with them (Communist) you’re not allowed to say anything, you’re not allowed to complain, and people who had power before the Communists took over where sometimes put in prison or sometimes lost their homes.”

Some Chinese communist leaders left: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemi, Bo Xilai, photo credits: Purgyal.com

You weren’t allowed to go against the Communist beliefs and if you did there were many prices to pay. “It’s definitely not a philosophy that’s friendly to opponents, does not tolerate much free speech or opposition,” said Ms. Strassler.

The current president of China is Xi Jinping and has been in office since March 14, 2013. He has no plans of leaving. “Normally even in the Chinese Communist Party they would have some kind of new leadership take over, but he recently, I think a year or two ago, passed like a reform that he can stay in power so that he’s basically holding on to power more than any other leader in China in recent history,” said Ms. Strassler.

Usually a president serves a set term. According to Ms. Barber, Global History teacher,  “The president currently has not even mentioned whether there’s going to be a transition of him to another president… he’s been in power for several years and with a democracy you usually have a set term, but its seems like he’s going to be in power as long as he wants to be in power.”  Since Xi Jinping is the current president of China and has been in power for a long time, it means that he has the power to basically run the government however he sees fit.

He has made China into more like a dictatorship throughout the years. A dictatorship is a form of government ruled by only one leader or group

“There’s voting but you have to be a member of the Communist Party and then you’re just voting for which of your comrades you will like to run,” according to Ms. Strassler.

Let’s say they do change the leader in China or even have an election, it would not have much of a difference because they only have one political party in that country and it’s still the “communist leadership of China that runs the country.So, in other words, people don’t have a say unless they are communist so they cant even try to elect another candidate of a different political party since its communist people voting for communism and nothing else because in order to vote “you have to be a member of the communist party” and then you’re basically “just voting for which of your comrades you will like to run.” China is shifting away from what is believed to be a democratic country and moving towards something that is seen as not democratic at all. It’s no longer about the people but about the powerful.

However, America does not seem to have a problem with this because countries can run their countries however they want as long as they have a positive trade deal with each other.

“Up until the 1970s we didn’t have any kind of relationship with China at all, and then when Mao Zedong died and a new guy came in power named Deng Xiaoping. Deng Xiaoping opened his country to westward countries, so companies could start selling to China and could start making things in China, and if we make things in china it gives jobs to Chinese people,” according to Mr. Jay, an iSchool History teacher.

 

The Tariff War Between China and America

When China opened up their trading relationships to the United States right away the U.S. wanted things to be manufactured there due to the simplicity and cheapness it was to pay workers in China then it was in the United States. People in China worked for low pay to build things in comparison to workers in America. “At that time in 1976, China was a very poor country kind of like a farming country, they didn’t have a lot of manufacturing going on then, now China has the 2nd biggest economy in the world after us,” said Mr. Jay.

(This graph is showing the items that will be affected but the U.S. and China’s tariff war)

Thanks to the American and Chinese business dealings, they have been able to pull each other up to a very healthy economical stand. However, recently under Donald Trump’s presidency, China and the United are having some conflicts. This is because Donald Trump started to place tariffs on Chinese goods.

“The U.S. is trying to negotiate a trade deal with China but they are not in agreement… The president is saying that he will raise tariffs on 2 hundred billion dollars worth of Chinese goods and is accusing China of trying to renegotiate the trade deal.” This is not a good thing for consumers since the raise of tariffs also mean the raise of costs per item.

The Trump administration raised import taxes on $200 billion of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.” according to NBC news. Donald trump did end up doing that and as a form of retaliation “China will impose retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion of American-made goods, hitting back at the U.S. just hours after President Donald Trump announced a massive escalation in tariffs on $200 billion in imported goods from Beijing” according to NBC news.

One of the many causes of these increase in tariffs can be the possibility that China is trying to lower their prices of goods in order to get more people into purchasing their things. “China has tried to lower its prices to compete against the United States on things that are manufactured in China, so then trump passed taxes and tariffs” according to Ms. Strassler. If China lowers its costs per item then many more people will be interested in buying their things instead of goods from the United States because it will be cheaper for the same product.

America and China’s trade relationship is important to the camps because this is affecting the U.S. course of action and what moves they will make. The U.S. is going to have to think about how it affects the trade with China affects the American people and economy.

 

A Deeper Look Into the Camps

Living in these camps is literally like living in hell. In these camps the Uighurs are forced to renounce Islam, adopt atheism, and pledge allegiance to the Chinese state. They spend hours in crowded cells, chanting “there is no such thing as religion or all hail China or all hail the Chinese president Xi Jinping.” And if they refuse they are tortured. For example, they pull out teeth, they pull out nails, they use snakes as a form of interrogation, being beaten, they are sterilizing them.

Prisoners in the camps getting reeducated, photo credits to businessinsider.com

They are also clamped down on tiger chairs, which are chairs where you are strapped down for hours and you can be left in solitary confinement or be tortured on it. You can be arrested for petty reasons. For example, if you mention god in your speech, you pray, you visit a family member abroad, these are all the reasons you can be sent to these camps.

And once someone dies in these camps, the bodies aren’t sent back to the families. Instead, they’re cremated as a way to hide evidence/proof of these camps and the people dying in them. Children of these detainees have been sent to state-run orphanages and boarding schools where they are taught to hate their own religion, identity, and are forced to speak Chinese, are subject to abuse and torture.  

Most towns and villages in east Turkestan are almost empty. Around 70-80% of the civilians are all gone. You walk through the streets and it’s eerily silent, because most people are in some form of detention or prison. Schools and factories are now being transformed into these concentration camps.

The Chinese government sends police officers to they’re homes to make sure they aren’t practicing Islam and to asses they political beliefs. The Chinese government is also forcing Uighurs to change their names from a Islamic name to a traditional Hans name. China is also forcing Uighur women to marry Hans men to prevent the creation of the next generation of Uighurs.

In these camps every human right known is violated. No human should be living under these circumstances. The torture and pain the Uighurs have to endure is unacceptable.

 

Camps in the Media

In the 21st century, the availability of news is very easily accessible due to the great advancements of technology and the freedom we have while using it. Many people get their news from social media, car radios, online newspapers, news apps, news on TV, and articles that can be found on the internet.

But getting your news so easily isn’t always good. News can sometimes be false and spread negative rumors about something, someone, or even about a place.

In a recent poll, 20 out of 28 iSchool students knew about the situation in China. When they were asked where they got their information, most said popular media outlets like Instagram.

Instagram is a social media where people can interact with friends and share photos online. News can be spread here, but sometimes not all the information or stories you see are true.

This graph shows the percentage of adults that use various types of social media. Credit: pewresearch.org

News like this (the concentration camps) should not only be seen in articles, social media, etc but in big news sources such as CNN News, NBC News, New York Times, Fox News, where there is a big audience to see all these cruel things going on and raise awareness. Also, we cannot depend on social media to be a new source since not many people ,ay be socially active on them.

In interviews with a total of  Social Studies teachers at the iSchool, most of them knew what was going on with these concentration camps in China, but it wasn’t a sufficient amount. This just shows how covered up the information about these camps and how unopened they are.

“They don’t have free speech, if they try to search for certain information on google it is blocked… they try to control the information that people can see and people cant say that the newspapers are controlled since they don’t have freedom of speech,” said Mr.Jay. People in China are being tricked into thinking that everything is fine since they can’t just simply find information online because they don’t have access.  

According to a separate study conducted by the watchdog group, China is not just issuing censorship locally, but is also attempting to infiltrate foreign media in an attempt to deter criticism and spread propaganda.”

According to the times website China has blocked Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Youtube, and more. China controls the media and what the people say, which makes it hard to find out what’s really happening in that country and the world and the inside scoop of what’s really going on in and outside these camps. It is also possible for people actually in China to not be aware of what is going on because whenever they search it up its closed off and for those actually in the camps cant speak up and share their situation online or in any sort of news source.

 

Why Has The U.S. Not Interfered With the Camps?

There are many reasons why the United States hasn’t done anything to interfere with this concentration camps in China. Many can argue that it can be because of money and our precious relationship with China or even because its none of our business. Either way there are many reasons why the United States is turning a blind eye on the subject, and money for a fact is one of them.

China and the United States have always had a good economic relationship where both places are benefiting and making good money from it. China is able to produce many things for less money and place a tariff on it to where they can then trade with the US. If the United States would interfere with these concentration camps in China, then there will be complications and we can probably lose our positive relationship with them.

If this relationship is lost, America can lose a lot of money. Tariffs can increase by a lot meaning that the United States will have to increase prices for these objects in order to give China some form of payment for their goods. The increased cost of these goods will affect consumers a lot because prices on goods like technology, clothing, and even furniture will increase at a drastic rate.

Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs told Reuters that higher tariffs will result in increased prices for consumers. He said the company will seek to ease the pain, in part by trying to obtain products from different countries and by working with suppliers,” according to NBC news.This means that if prices go up from Chinese companies, then the United States will just have to find and get goods from other countries.

This will go both ways because not only with the United States lose money, but so will China if they boycott their goods due to the increase in price.

This will also means that if people are being paid the same but the prices of everything is increasing, then the economy will become unbalanced and consumers won’t be able to afford some of these things.

An example of how changing the price of things can affect daily life is public transportation. If the price for train and bus fare go up a lot, then people will not afford to pay for these ways of transportation everyday since it will be difficult to keep up with the increased charge while they are still getting the same pay.

If this keeps up and nobody buys Chinese goods, then their trade deal will have to come to a close. This is one of the multiple reasons the United States is not interfering with what is going on because they fear that their economy will go down hill if they do so.

People can also argue that its none of their business, and China should be able to do whatever it wants to its people because it’s their way of life. However, what is happening to these people is morally wrong and to be seen as a nation that does nothing to stop this cruelty can look very bad and unethical.

If in the 1950s the United States intervened with the Korean war to aid South Korea after North Korea invaded them, then they should be able to do the same to China but instead of “invading” talk about the matter and do something to help out the many victims of China and end this inhumanity. The situation in the South had nothing to do with the United States, but they still helped the people of South Korea.

However, the likelihood that the United States of America not interfering in this dilemma because of the possibility to maybe make more cash or even take advantage of the situation is not too far fetched. If thought about, there are many ways America can benefit from this. The concentration camps in China are being used to politically brainwash and “transform scattered Uighurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities — many of them farmers, shopkeepers and tradespeople — into a disciplined, Chinese-speaking industrial workforce, loyal to the Communist Party and factory bosses,” according to the NY Times.

This means that if China is getting more people to work for them and make goods that can, in the future be traded with America, then the U.S.A will obviously have no problem with that since its assisting them. And since the Uighurs make up about 45% of the population in Xinjiang and about 1 million Uighur Turks are incurring arbitrary arrests and are subjected to torture and political brainwashing. Furthermore, all of these people are being turned into Chinese workers meaning that all their hard work is being used to benefit both China and America.  

This will be the perfect plan since its not of any danger nor risk to them. So, in order to not ruin their chances with a good deal with China they can all be potentially keeping it on the low. But then again this is just a theory.

Can the United States do anything? In a recent interview, History teacher Ms. Turso said, “Most of the time when the United States is trying to put pressure on another country to change something thats what its doing, cause we don’t have legal jurisdiction over another country… we can’t go into another country and say you need to follow American laws because each country has its own sovereignty, its own power to control its own rules.”

Basically, it’s not as easy to go to another country and just tell them what to do. But there are other actions we can take, such as meeting with them to try to encourage them into changing something, or setting up “sanctions and embargoes where we’ll tell a country they cant trade with us or we won’t trade with them unless they.” Some of these actions will work more like a diplomacy and how good our relationship is with other countries.

China falls under the United Nations umbrella and is one of the five countries with veto power. If these countries have veto power, it means that if any of the five countries disagree in anything the action will not be taken.

The United Nations are not able to make laws for any countries, but they are able to make any recommendations to countries to improve the lives of people. The five countries with veto power are France, China, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States.

According to Ms. Turso, “the United Nations has this human rights declaration and as an international body they can tell a country to do something, but the only way they can force a country using military force, is through the United Nations security council, and the way the United Nations was set up the security council has four permanent members that has veto power which means any one of these countries can say no to any plan.”

So, even if everyone else in the United Nations wanted China to do something and was willing to send UN troops to make sure China was treating people the way they are supposed to, China has the power to say no as a veto power country.

 

The Fate of the Uighur People

Currently, there are “at least 800,000 and possibly up to two million people may have been detained in huge “re-education centers.” according CNN. “Children of these detainees have been sent to state-run orphanages and boarding schools where they are taught to hate their own religion, identity, and are forced to speak Chinese, are subject to abuse and torture.” The parents do not know where their kids are.

Most towns and villages in East Turkestan are almost empty. Around 70-80% of the civilians are all gone. You walk through the streets and it’s eerily silent, because most people are in some form of detention or prison.” said Aydin Anwar, a Uighur with family in these camps. This number is a growing number. More and more Uighurs are getting put into these camps. At this rate all the Uighurs in China will be in these camps and if nothing is done in a few years Uyghur people won’t exist in China, because the Chinese would’ve turned them into “noble Chinese citizens.”

If the Chinese are not stopped, then the Uighurs will not be the only group of minorities that are oppressed. They will come for more people until they have everyone in a tight grip they can’t loosen from.

They have already started.

According to NBC news, “A social credit system will go into effect next year across China, where every citizen will be scored based on their behavior. Good actions, like volunteering, and bad, like littering, are tracked using algorithms, artificial intelligence and facial recognition — and there are real consequences for a high or low score.”

(A visual representation of the social credit system, photo credit to wiredUK.com)

NBC also said China is also paying people’s neighbors to report on each other. They are also requiring people to work for benefits without being paid.

They also have a police checkpoint every 200 meters. In addition to that there are also checkpoints at most stores, and if you’re a Uighur then they’ll stop you and ask for ID. And once they have the ID, it can be scanned using policemen’s apps on their phones.

On this app they can see various amounts of information. For example, they can see religious habits, blood type, height, weight, educational level, address, educational level, political affiliation, household information, and more. They are also tracking ordinary, routine, legal behavior is being tracked. For example, if you lose a number, use more electricity than you normally do, leave the house a different door than you usually do.

And as a result, they send government officials to investigate what is happening. If you use WhatsApp or Telegram, they will consider you suspicious and will send a government official to investigate you.

They also use WiFi sniffers at checkpoints to pull information from a persons phone. They also use facial recognition software. In short, if they deem you suspicious they will send you to a camp.

Chinese officials are taking actions like they’re unstoppable. And at this rate they will be if no one intervenes.

 

Psychological and Physical Long Term Effects

Being in concentration camps does not only have cruel physical effects but can also leave unhealthy psychological effects. “Being in these camps can lead to PTSD, depression, anxiety, trust issues, lost of connection with family, low-self esteem, and other psychological effects.” according to Oumou, a psychology major. These are long lasting effects and many people might not be able to get over.

According to the APA website, “Six decades after the end of World War II and we are still learning how a mass genocide like the Holocaust is affecting its victims,” said the study’s lead author, Efrat Barrel, PhD, a psychology professor at the Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel in Israel.” The concentration camps during the holocaust is similar to the ones in China and can result in the same way and leave the same effects.

APA also said, “Holocaust survivors had poorer psychological well-being, more post-traumatic stress symptoms and more psychopathological symptoms.There were no significant differences in cognitive functioning or physical health. The Holocaust survivors who lived in Israel showed better psychological well-being and social adjustment than survivors who lived in other countries. Holocaust survivors had poorer psychological well-being, more post-traumatic stress symptoms and more psychopathological symptoms.”

The Uighurs can be facing the same fate as the Jews during the Holocaust. With these symptoms it will be hard for the Uighurs to rejoin society if/once they are freed. They will have a hard time trusting government officials and all these young kids will forget their parents and they’ll be almost like strangers to them.

Life lessons that are only taught by a parent won’t be taught for these kids and their education will forever be messed up. They won’t feel a parents love and it will be weird once they do because a parents love is different than any other love. These kids will grow up not trusting anyone and being totally independent. A child’s worst nightmare is losing their parents. In short, separating these kids from their parents and being put in these camps, have psychological effects on both ends.

 

What Should We Do?

In these camps people are losing their lives, losing their right to freedom, right to religion, right to happiness, and every other human right. America was made for the people and represents democracy for many countries in the world. We are examples for other countries. And now that America isn’t doing anything to stop China, what type of example is America showing the rest of the world?

The world should be a place where a person can be free and not fear for their lives because of what religion they practice. These camps don’t directly affect everyone, but that shouldn’t be a reason to not try to help the weak. We should defend the defenseless.

Just because these camps don’t directly affect an individual or country that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do anything, because the fact that it is affecting an individual or a group of people should be enough for a country with power or a person with power to go and help. Money should be a factor in whether or not a country helps people in need. People’s lives are way more valuable than money.

People have to remember that these are humans, and we are all equal at the end of the day, and therefore, should be treated equally.