According to a new report from Amnesty International, published on Thursday. The actions of the Chinese government against the people of the country’s Muslim minority are crimes against humanity. The report details the systematic imprisonment, torture and persecution of people organized by the state in Xinjiang. including the Uighurs and the Kazakhs It also details the Chinese government’s widespread cover-up efforts.
More than 50 detainees in the camp bear testimony in the Amnesty report. International And everyone said they were tortured or abused.
The United Nations says up to 1.5 million Uighurs are in internment camps in China, talks to NLA. weekend edition Last year, Adrian Zenz, a senior in China studying at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, called it perhaps the largest incarceration of ethnic minorities. Since the genocide And said the effort was consistent with the UN’s definition of genocide.
Earlier this year, the US joined the European Union. united kingdom and Canada to boycott China in protest. “Human rights violations”
NPR all things considered I spoke with Jonathan Loeb, Amnesty’s senior crisis adviser. International and the head of the report author About conducting safe interviews with former camp inmates How this report proves that torture only occurs in these concentration camps. and about eliminating Islamic practice in China . Listen in the audio player above. and read the next interview
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Ailsa Chang: So if I’m not mistaken. The report is the largest direct compilation of accounts from detainees in Xinjiang. Is that correct?
Jonathan Loeb: Yes. Even though at least hundreds of thousands of people have been sent to concentration camps in the last four years. And millions of Muslims in Xinjiang were affected by the situation there. But few can leave. country and public speaking about this issue. What Amnesty has been trying to do for the last 18 months is identifying and contacting others. able to leave Xinjiang but was reluctant to speak publicly before for safety reasons. So we put a lot of time and effort into tracking 55 former inmates from the camp who had never spoken before. And we make sure that we can conduct interviews in a way that is as safe and secure as possible for them.
Now reports of these concentration camps and public surveillance Of those outside of these camps who live in Xinjiang first appeared about four years ago. Tell me, what are the most important new details that this report adds to our overall understanding of what is happening? occurring in Xinjiang
Our report adds that the evidence is available; It’s not unique. This is a new testimony. And it gave an incredible amount of new details, unfortunately, about the terrible things that happened in the camp. We conclude that all those sent to the camps have experienced torture or other ill-treatment, both from the cumulative effects of daily life in the camps and as a result of many experiencing physical torture during interrogation and punishment during their time in the camp
And let me ask Is there any detail that resonates with you the most?
Yes. Unfortunately, about 17 or 18 former detainees interviewed by Amnesty were interrogated and tortured in the tiger-striped chair. It’s basically a steel chair where your hands and feet are attached to the chair. And you’re completely unable to move.
Now, the Chinese government has long said it is focusing on this population because of the “terrorist threat” the region presents to the government. We should note that there are reports that thousands of Uighurs have gone to fight for ISIS in Syria. Is there some reason for concern, even if what happened in Xinjiang is extremely unfortunate?
Every government has the right to respond according to international law to legitimate terrorist threats. But what we have here is a campaign aimed solely at all people based on their religion and culture.
as you say One of the longest lasting effects is the loss of culture. People are being punished for speaking their mother tongue instead of Mandarin. People were tortured by holding only religious idols. woman undergoing sterilizationWhat do you think the future of these ethnic Muslims will be in China?
It’s not just a particularly bleak future. but it is present A lot of the things we’re talking about here have already happened. Many traditions that are essential to the practice of Islam Whether it’s praying, going to a mosque, teaching religion, wearing religious clothes, Giving children Islamic-sounding names are all prohibited nowadays. and hence in order to survive Muslims in Xinjiang have modified their behavior in such a way that they no longer allow them to perform religious ceremonies.
Anna Sirianni and Patrick Charoenwattananon Produced and edited the sound for the story.