Image courtesy of The New York Times
By Franchetta Groves
During a town hall organized by CNN on February 16, President Joe Biden was asked about what is happening in China for Uyghur Muslims and what he discussed with Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
“If you know anything about the history of China, this has always been the time when China fell victim to the outside world, is when it was not unified at home,” Biden mentionned. “Xi Jinping’s central tenet is that there must be a tightly controlled united China.”
“I point out to him that no American president can be supported as president if he does not reflect the values of the United States,” he continued. saying, “And so the idea that I’m not going to denounce what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uyghurs in the western mountains of China and Taiwan, trying to end the politics of ‘one China by making it energetic, I said – by the way, he said he got it. Culturally, there are different standards that each country and its leaders are expected to follow. ”
These comments have made many people wonder what is happening to the Uyghur people? the Uyghur people are a population of around 11 million people who live in western China, most of whom are observant Muslims. Tensions between Han Chinese and Uyghurs have increased due to economic and ethnic disparities. These tensions led to protests and ultimately to violent unrest. China has called the Uyghur people a security threat after a terrorist attack in 2014, which was recognized by Uyghur Muslims. In response to this, the Chinese government has started installing security cameras, security checkpoints and constant police patrols in areas dominated by Uyghurs.
In 2017, the Chinese government passed a law prohibiting men from growing long beards and women from wearing their veils. Following this, thousands of mosques have been destroyed or damaged. Reports by thinktank Australian Institute for Strategic Policy found that in 2017, the Chinese government had built nearly 400 internment camps in the Xinjiang region after claiming their “re-education” program was drawing to a close. China says there are no human rights violations in these internment camps, but it will not allow journalists to enter and observe what is happening.
the US Department of State estimates that over a million Uyghurs, as well as others belonging to minority Muslim groups, are detained there. Reports show that there is forced labor, sexual abuse and deaths. Human rights groups reported that women are forced to abort their pregnancies if they exceed the quota of permitted births and that other women have been forced to undergo sterilization procedures.
Many detainees said they were forced to deny their religious beliefs, criticize themselves and their relatives and thank the Communist Party. People can be thrown into these extreme conditions just to “wear a veil” or “grow a” long beard “.
“Our job as college students is to learn as much as possible about the CCP’s horrors abroad, but also about the relationship our universities and institutions have with it. As students, we have the power to organize and influence university administrations, as well as legislators, with the unique perspective of those directly affected by the CCP on a college campus, ”said junior Chris Carey on how the students can oppose this. question and why he co-founded the Athenai Institute section of the Catholic University.
the Athenai Institute is working to limit the influence of the Chinese Communist Party on college campuses and to establish an open discussion on the human rights violations that occur.
“At the Athenai Institute, we are focused on the nationwide shutdown of Confucius Institutes,” continued Carey, “however, even in universities that do not host CIs, it is important to understand and ‘oppose any arrangements the university may have with CCP-backed companies, entrepreneurs, and more. “
The Chinese government initially denied the existence of these camps. However, when there was too much evidence to the contrary, they claimed that they were mere “re-education camps”. This lack of transparency leads many to wonder what is really happening to the Uyghur people?