With everyone’s eyes on Iran and Iraq, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the situation has gone from volatile to violent. While there haven’t been any American casualties reported at the time in which this column is being written, we can only hope for a swift de-escalation before the situation gets worse. The situation in the Middle East is unarguably catching the eyes of most people, but there is a different situation going on in China that has resulted in the loss of life of a number of innocent people.
The People’s Republic of China has, over the past few years, been targeting and capturing large portions of their internal Muslim population and sending them to what can only be described as modern-day concentration camps. In these camps, prisoners – or what the Chinese government refers to as “trainees” – are placed in crowded locations that are reported to have extremely poor hygiene practices, as reported by Business Insider interviewee Sayragul Sauytbay. She later went on to report that Muslims in these camps are forced to eat pork as a means of insulting their religion. But the atrocities that take place in these camps go further. There have been reports from Sauytbay and a large number of other outlets such as “Haaretz” and “The Believer” that these camps and their guards are performing medical human experimentation on the prisoners as well as extreme physical punishment. Some of the most morally decrepit acts have been reported to be abuse by the guards, forced abortions and forced contraceptives and experimentation resulting in impotence. A number of reports were even made at the UN Human Rights Council in September about organ harvesting from the inmates.
Needless to say that if even half of these accusations are true (and I am inclined to believe that all of them are), then we are dealing with a level of human rights abuses that have not been seen for decades and could be compared to the abuses undertaken by Nazi Germany. Of course, the Chinese government fully denies any and all accusations of misconduct in this regard and claims that these institutions are “educational and vocational centers meant to help the state counter terrorism.” This was the statement made to “Reuters” by the Chinese government. There are further reports of inmates leaving the camps and being sent to forced manual labor camps that aren’t much better than where they left. The question now becomes “What can countries do about this?” This question holds grave importance since China will be the world stage for the Winter 2022 Olympics, which will certainly bring more international scrutiny directed at the authoritarian country.
The bleakest part of the situation is not any particular action that is being put underway, but rather the futility that we are faced with. China being an authoritarian government makes it more antagonistic towards international authorities as has been evidenced a plethora of times. This means that most actions aiming to end these horrid crimes will land on deaf ears. Actions of economic soft power will be met by the same and will cause undue harm to civilians of both countries with economic setbacks. Use of hard power and military action is, needless to say, improbable at best. The best action we as the public can take is to inform ourselves so that we can take action when we are able to.