According to PBS, at least 1 million Uyghur (Uighur) Muslims have been interned in part of China since 2017, despite China denying the existence of the camps for some time.
The construction of the centres began in 2014, and today there are more than a staggering 85 detention centres in Xinjiang.
Chinese officials have publicly claimed that, “Uyghurs hold extremist and separatist ideas,” and they view the camps as a way of “eliminating threats to China’s territorial integrity, government, and population.”
However, members of the community have said they were “detained, interrogated or beaten” because of their religion.
Not much information has been officially released regarding the camps, but documents leaked in late 2019 point towards disturbing and shocking allegations about what really goes on within the centres.
Many survivors have come forward, shedding light on the terrible experiences they endured during detainment, including one man by the name of Kayrat Samarkand. He told the Washington Post that he faced,“seemingly endless brainwashing and humiliation… and was forced to study communist propaganda for hours every day and chant slogans giving thanks and wishing a long life to President Xi Jinping.”
Others have also reported “prison-like conditions,” with cameras and microphones tracking their every move. The alleged abuse Uighurs are subjected to in the centres has been said to have led many to commit suicide, and many others to witness them take place.
In fact, women who are detained in the camps have reported being sexually abused, forced to undergo abortions, and implant contraceptive devices against their will.
The stories of Uyghur Muslims and their experiences in these camps can be called nothing short of inhumane, and many are saying it should be considered a genocide, and are actively asking the UN to investigate it as such.
In addition, last year, 23 countries called on China to "uphold its national and international obligations and commitments to respect human rights,” which included Canada, the United States, Japan, and Australia.
With all of the anecdotes and experiences being shared about the inhumane treatment of Uyghur Muslims, it is important to spread awareness on these atrocities, so that governments can begin to hold China accountable for its human rights atrocities.