China's Vanishing Muslims

2019, Crime  -  32 min Leave a Comment
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From VICE News comes China's Vanishing Muslims, a hard-hitting probe into a hidden system of injustice and suffering sanctioned by the Chinese government.

The subjects of this abuse are the Uyghurs, a minority population of Chinese Muslims who have lived in the region of Xinjiang, China for centuries. They are enduring a systematic removal from society. Massive detainment facilities have been constructed to house over one million of the Uyghur people. Once incarcerated, they're placed under a regimen of strict indoctrination and conditioned to adhere to more "traditional" Han Chinese customs and beliefs.

The Chinese call these facilities vocational centers, but the United Nations has rightfully characterized them as concentration camps. Yet the Chinese have kept their system heavily guarded from prying eyes. Journalists are forbidden from leaking information.

This poses a unique challenge to the filmmakers. Even though they are posing as tourists instead of journalists, they can sense an ominous tension from the moment of their arrival in this ethnically charged region. The city is strewn with armed police, a constant parade of security checkpoints and surveillance cameras, and expressions of suspicion toward outsiders. Even in the most populated tourism spots, few people are willing to acknowledge the filmmakers, much less provide them with responses to their sensitive lines of questioning. Some claim ignorance to the mass persecution of the Uyghur people while others will only speak in hushed tones out of the view of their cameras.

They find better luck outside of China when they meet with a group of former detainees who managed to escape the confines of the camps. They testify to the brutality of their captors. They are detained under the cover of darkness in the dead of night. If a female detainee is pregnant, they are forced to undergo an abortion. Others are forced to undergo torture and falsely confess to acts of terrorism. "They don't care if people die," one former detainee explains. "Their main purpose is creating communist robots."

China's Vanishing Muslims is an exceptional work of journalism that shines a spotlight on atrocities that have been kept obscured from public view for far too long.