Beijing’s controversial use of internment camps for Muslim citizens is defended
Beijing’s controversial use of internment camps for Muslim citizens has been defended by the governor of the Chinese territory of Xinjiang, claiming the prisoners are ‘happier.’
Shohrat Zakir told Xinhua that prisoners detained in the re-education camps, which he referred to as “boarding schools” – are getting an education and vocational, legal and language training.
The Chinese government refused to confirm whether such facilities even existed, but in recent months admitted that its plan and move to justify the camps’ use.
“The purpose is to fundamentally eliminate the environment and soil that breeds terrorism and religious extremism, and eliminate the terrorist activities before they take place,” Zakir said.
Zakir alleged prisoners are grateful for the opportunity to adopt a new lifestyle.
According to Newsweek: Numerous investigative reports have implied the predominantly Muslim detainees are subordinated to political indoctrination through mental and physical degradation.
The governor said prisoners are taught Mandarin and provided lessons in Chinese history and culture.
They are also taught in the Chinese constitution, China’s legal code and local regulations, while being encouraged to “accept modern science,” he claimed.
Most of the citizens in the camps are from Muslim minority groups, including from the Uighur, Kazakh and Hui communities.
Former detainees have described widespread torture within the centers, as well as being forced to swear allegiance to the ruling Communist Party and denounce their religious beliefs.
But Zakir presented a very different view of the camps, which as of last week are officially allowed to hold those “influenced by extremism.”
He said counseling services are provided to secure detainees are in good mental health, while on-site cafeterias ensure “nutritious diets.”
Zakir also claimed there were sports facilities and stages for performances, with singing and dance contests organized and participation encouraged.
“Many trainees have said they were previously affected by extremist thought and had never participated in such kinds of arts and sports activities.
Now they realize how colorful life can be,” the governor said.
Zakir did not state how many prisoners were currently being held, though human rights groups propose the number could be as high as 1 million.
Hu Xijin, the editor of the state-run Global Times newspaper, wrote Monday that the true number is far lower than international estimates.
Hu said he would not reveal the exact figure, and suggested the government would not do so either to bypass “giving Western media another excuse to hype up the issue.”