Concerns continue to grow about China’s internment camps. There are fears that they could spread across the country as a province home to a two-million-strong Muslim minority signs an “anti-terrorism” agreement with Xinjiang, an area which has seen a significant crackdown on Muslims.
Local authorities in Ningxia province, home to the Hui Muslim minority, have signed a “cooperation anti-terrorism agreement” with Xinjiang officials to “learn from the latter’s experiences in promoting social stability,” according to a Chinese state media report.
As part of those efforts, Zhang Yunsheng, the Communist party head of Ningxia, has gone “to study and investigate how Xinjiang fights terrorism and legally manages religious affairs.”
“These are good reasons to be worried that the Xinjiang model would spread to other regions… with grave consequences for religious freedoms,” said Maya Wang, a senior researcher on China for Human Rights Watch.
Hui Muslims account for more than one-third of Ningxia’s population of 6.8 milllion.
Loudspeakers on mosques have reportedly been removed as the call to prayer is now banned to reduce “noise pollution”, and mosques deemed to be in “Arab-style” are no longer allowed.
Al Jazeera conducted a special interview with an Uighur refugee.
“Since April 2017, Chinese authorities have arrested at least 800,000 and possibly more than two million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minorities in so-called “re-education camps”, according to testimony from the United States State Department official, Scott Busby, before Congress on December 4.
The Chinese government initially denied these camps exist. However, they’ve now legalised them and say these are merely vocational, educational training centres intended to “combat extremism” – despite the fact that some of those arrested are reportedly university presidents or other Communist Party officials. Some say this is one of the world’s most ignored human rights crisis.
Uyghur American Association president Hassan, who was forced to leave China in 2003 and has been separated from his family ever since, tells his story on UpFront.
“They [police] used electric baton and they electricised me twice in one interrogation,” Hassan recalls his experience of being monitored as a teacher at a vocational training college and having been arrested twice, beaten and electricised.”