When previously last year the United Nations began scrutinizing claims that China has interned one million of its ethnic Uighur Muslim in “re-education” camps, Beijing stridently denied such charges, but now months after Western media and human rights groups have carefully documented a network of Uighur prisons, some by satellite photos, China is attempting to shift the narrative to one of a positive “de-radicalization” program. Beijing now not only fully owns up to its system of forced labor camps, but as a Times (UK) report finds, is even parading groups of Muslims on state TV to extol the virtues of the system.
The China Central Television broadcasts are but the latest in Beijing’s Orwellian efforts to not only form the minds of its citizens on the controversial subject, but to manage the world’s perception of the “disappeared” Muslims now rotting in what might best be described as Communists propaganda camps, per The Times:
Until recently China flatly rejected accusations that it forced hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs into what the US called re-education and indoctrination camps rife with “awful abuse”. The interviews on China Central Television appear to be the latest step by the government to acknowledge and justify what it describes as “vocational schools” in the Uighur province of Xinjiang. Beijing has said that the camps have helped to stop religious violence.
The Times report outlines some of the interviews, and the quotes appear carefully scripted, conveying how the Communist government wishes the public to perceive the program.
One restaurant owner who acknowledged spending time in a camp said he became more tolerant: “If I had let the religious extremism develop, I might have beaten non-Muslims who entered my restaurant,” the man identified as Abudu Saimaiti said. “In the worst case, I would not walk on public roads, take city buses or use the official currency, because they are provided by non-Muslims, who run this country.”
Speaking into the camera, the Chinese Muslim business owner added, “Through learning the law and the national policy, I have come to realize it’s a dead end for me, for my family and for my offspring, and my hometown will for ever be chaotic.”
Prior China Central Television (CCTV) footage from October, featured by Al Jazeera
The state TV program alternates between depicting joyful scenes among Muslim inmates expressing gratitude for their “rehabilitation” to young students testifying they were taught by Uighur leaders to “shun Chinese society’ and to believe that non-Muslims must be killed, according to a description by The Times.
Chinese officials have condemned Western accounts of the camps, recently telling the UN Human Rights Council for example that humanitarian concerns were “not factual” and are “politically driven” attacks. Other officials, such as head of the regional Xinjiang government, where most Uighurs in China are historically based, promoted the camps as a place to learn “vocational skills”.
China has also lately touted the program as behind a significant drop in terror-related attacks in the previously restive province.
Last summer the United Nations began taking note of the large number of cases in which prominent Uighur Chinese citizens and dissidents were being “disappeared”. A UN panel noted credible reports that more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs in China were held in a prison network that resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy”. The U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also called the system a race-based program which sent Muslim minorities into “political camps for indoctrination”.