Beijing: Former prisoners of Chinese “re-education” camps for Muslims have revealed chilling details of methods employed by government agencies. Muslim inmates are reportedly forced to eat pork and drink alcohol as part of Beijing’s efforts to stifle dissent and ensure compliance with the central government.
Nearly 1 million Chinese Muslims, mainly from the Xinjiang region are believed to have been detained in the camps. China’s Xianjing territory is home to around 21 million people, of which at least 11 million are Muslims.
Speaking to the Washington Post, two former detainees have spoken out about the brutality inflicted upon captive Muslims.
Kayrat Samarkand told the Post he was detained for three months after returning from a trip to Kazakhstan. Samarkand said he was forced to study Chinese propaganda for hours and give praise to Xi. “Those who disobeyed the rules, refused to be on duty, engaged in fights or were late for studies were placed in handcuffs and ankle cuffs for up to 12 hours,” he recalled.
Other inmates supported Samarkand’s claims. Former prisoner Omir Bekali was arrested while on a trip from his home in Kazakhstan to visit his family. He said that those suspected of being extremists were forced to drink alcohol, and both men said prisoners were made to eat pork as a punishment. Consumption of both products is forbidden by Islam.
Those detained and sent to re-education camps were predominantly young men.
China’s detention programme has swept across the Xianjing territory in what has been described by the United States as “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today”.
In a report released Tuesday, Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology in Korntal, Germany, claimed that China’s crackdown on Islam “is, more than likely, the country’s most intense campaign of coercive social re-engineering since the end of the Cultural Revolution.”
Chinese government however denies the existence of such camps. China is targeting Islamic extremists in Xinjiang, which it says are a threat to national security and have carried out multiple deadly attacks in Chinese cities.
Government has tried to stamp out Muslim identity by banning veils, long beards and Muslim baby names. Expert says that entire Xianjing region has been turned into a 21st-century surveillance state.
“The state’s proclaimed ‘war on terror’ in the region is increasingly turning into a war on religion, ethnic languages and other expressions of ethnic identity,” Zenz wrotes in the report.