Over one million Uighur Muslims are being held in Chinese concentration camps for arbitrary reasons as the international community largely remains silent about the ethnic minority’s ongoing persecution, a believer told hundreds gathered for the first day of the U.S. State Department’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom Tuesday.
Tahrir Hamut, a prominent Uighur poet and filmmaker who was sentenced to three years in a Chinese concentration camp in the mid 1990s, was among the first persecuted believers to give their testimonies at the first-ever State Department ministerial addressing international religious freedom.
Speaking on the plight of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang Region in Northwest China, Hamut wasted no time in detailing just how severe the persecution is for his community, stating that the government is using surveillance technology and forced DNA collection to exert control over the everyday lives of Uighurs.
“Since late 2016, China has turned the Uighur region into a police state — an open prison,” he said through a translator.
Uighurs, a Turkish ethnic group primarily existing in Xinjiang, has been targeted by the Chinese government since 1949, Hamut explained. However, he added that the government’s persecution of the ethnic group has intensified greatly since the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001 under the guise of fighting terrorism.
“The Chinese government is using advanced surveillance technologies, such as AI, voice and face recognition, mass surveillance of cell phones and forced DNA collection to control Uighurs’ daily lives,” Hamut said. “There are unprecedented restrictions on the religious lives of Uighurs. The government has confiscated and burned religious books and demolished mosques. Religious activities that were once legal are now illegal and an excuse for persecution.”
Hamut said that the communist government’s oppression of Uighurs has been based largely on their ethnicity.
As previous estimate has suggested that over 120,000 Uighur Muslims were being held in labor camps across China’s western border, Hamut suggested that north of a million Uighurs are being detained in such camps.
“The Chinese government has also sent Uighurs to so-called re-education camps, which are concentration camps,” Hamut stated. “Currently, more than 1 million Uighurs are held in these camps. There is no due process. No one knows why they are detained, where they are kept, if and when they are released. We hear that people are suffering from illness and die in these camps.”
Hamut recalled his own experience in one of these camps.
“In 1996, I was detained while I was leaving China to go to Turkey and sentenced to three years in a labor camp on a false charge of trying to provide sensitive materials to overseas forces,” said Hamut. “At that time, there were about 350 prisoners at the camp where I served. The majority of them were Uighurs. About 230 were political prisoners charged for their religious beliefs or political views. When I was released, I lost my teaching job. I had to live in a country in which the regime viewed me as an enemy.”
Currently, Hamut fears that the Chinese government will likely begin killing detained Uighurs in a Nazi-like fashion.
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Source: Christian Post