The Worsening Human Rights Tragedy Unfolding in Xinjiang

The district of Xinjiang, China has become an epicenter of forced mass incarceration, religious persecution and disturbing reports of human rights violations.

On January 10th, the Henry Jackson Society held an event at the House of Lords in London, titled “Understanding the Uighur Situation in Xinjiang.” The event, hosted by Lord Hannay of Chiswick, aimed at investigating why one million Uighur Muslims are currently being held in labor camps throughout Xinjiang. Beijing officials, who have confirmed that the mass detentions sweeping across the region are under the pretext of connection to counter terrorism, have also re-branded labor camps as vocational re-education centers.

Panellist Benedict Rogers, author, journalist and member of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), described how people are being detained “for acts as basic as having a WhatsApp function on their mobile phones, having relatives living abroad, accessing religious materials online, engaging in religious activities, or sometimes no reason is given at all.” He added that detainees “have no access to legal counsel, no mechanism for appeal, and the family are not told where the detainee is held or when they will be released.” Benedict quoted The New York Times, which stated the Chinese regime’s intention behind these incarcerations is to “break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections and break their origins.”

If the current scale and nature of the detentions were not troubling enough, events preceding the currently acknowledged movement suggest even darker connections. Throughout 2017 and 2018, major news publications from around the world have repeatedly detailed credible accounts of huge numbers of forced blood, tissue and DNA testing specifically targeting the autonomous Xinjiang district, more specifically, the Uighur Muslim population. Questions have been rebuffed by Chinese officials under the guise that their actions were mandated by the central government under the pretext of a new state surveillance program.

The underlying connection between a campaign of mass collection of biometric and DNA data from an estimated 18 million ethnic Uighurs followed by a campaign of mass incarcerations raises more serious concerns. During an article exploring the cultural extermination of the Uighurs the Washington Post stated, “It’s hard to read that as anything other than a declaration of genocidal intent.”

The link between China’s labour camp populations and the threat of live forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience continues to be of major concern as reports now indicate that upwards of 300,000 Uighurs have already been forcibly transported to other regions throughout China. Panellist Dr. Enver Tothi, a former Chinese surgeon and human rights activist, remarked, “the massive detention and arbitrary killing are no longer a myth.” He questioned how official Chinese concerns over counter terrorism could result in district wide state surveillance and expansion of re-education centers. He postulated that the root cause for what is happening in the Xinjiang district of China and beyond is forced organ procurement for China’s ever expanding and highly lucrative transplant tourism industry.