China ‘separates Muslim children from families’

Internment camps and schools being built by authorities

Xinjiang camp
(Image credit: (Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images))

China is deliberately separating Muslim children from their families in the region of Xinjiang, according to reports this morning.

New research has found that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to internment, either in the camps or in prison. This constitutes a “campaign” to “systematically remove children from their roots,” says the BBC.

As hundreds of thousands of adults are detained in the vast camps, a “rapid, large-scale campaign” to build boarding schools is under way, reports the BBC, in what it says is “the most comprehensive evidence to date about what is happening to children in the region”.

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Dr Adrian Zenz, a respected German researcher, says campuses have been enlarged, with new dormitories and hugely inflated capacity. He adds that the authorities have been building their ability to care full-time for large numbers of children while simultaneously building the detention camps for the adults.

In 2017, the number of children enrolled in kindergartens in Xinjiang increased by more than half a million, with Uighur and other Muslim minority children making up more than 90% of that increase.

Uighurs are members of Xinjiang's largest, predominantly Muslim ethnic group. Over the past three years, they and others have found themselves detained after China began holding hundreds of thousands of people from minority groups in giant camps.

Although Beijing insists the Uighurs are being educated in “vocational training centres” to counter violent religious extremism, testimony and other evidence has revealed that many are being detained for simply expressing their faith by wearing a veil or praying.

Xu Guixiang, a senior official with Xinjiang's Propaganda Department, told the BBC that the state denies caring for large numbers of children left parentless.

“If all family members have been sent to vocational training then that family must have a severe problem,” he said, laughing. “I've never seen such a case.”

“Despite China’s efforts to tell what is really happening in Xinjiang, some western media and politicians insist on making and spreading fake news,” said the state-run Global Times.

However, Dr Zenz says: “I believe the evidence points to what we must call cultural genocide.”

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