The region, which is almost a prison is half the size of India, and you can’t practice your religion here, more so if you are a Muslim
The Hush Post: Xinjiang is probably the largest prison-like place in the world. To put things into perspective Xinjiang is half the size of India.
It is home to Muslims, mostly extremists, and China sees them as the threat to the national security. Muslims in Uighurs have allegedly killed hundreds in recent times, and China considers the region a threat to the peace of the country.
In Xinjiang, China has started an internment programme aimed to rewire the political ideology of detainees and erase their Islamic beliefs. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process. Detainees who criticise their people and things they love are rewarded and those who refuse are punished with solitary confinement, thrashing and food deprivation.
Here internees wake up together before dawn, sing the national anthem of China, and raise the Chinese flag at 7:30 am.
Lets have a look at one of many such stories. According to New York Times story, a Kazakh Muslim, Omir Bekali was one such man undergoing the Chinese reform. Hour upon hour, day upon day, Omir Bekali and other detainees were indoctrinated to disavow their Islamic beliefs.
When Bekali refused to follow, he was forced to stand at a wall for five hours at a time. A week later, he was sent to solitary confinement, where he was deprived of food for 24 hours. After 20 days in the heavily guarded camp, he wanted to kill himself.
Since last February, like Bekali, Chinese authorities in this Muslim region have ensnared tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Muslim Chinese — and even foreign citizens — in mass internment camps.
Bekali was born in China in 1976 to Kazakh and Uighur parents and moved to Kazakhstan in 2006. He received citizenship three years later. He was out of China in 2016.
The Xinjiang he returned to was different. All-encompassing, data-driven surveillance tracked residents in a region with around 12 million Muslims, including ethnic Kazakhs and Uighurs. Viewing a foreign website, taking phone calls from relatives abroad, praying regularly or growing a beard could land one in an indoctrination camp or prison.
Bekali was held in a cell, incommunicado, for a week, and then was driven 500 miles (804 kilometres) to Karamay’s Baijiantan District public security office. Here he was mentally and physically tortured to a condition where death looked imminent every second. But it didn’t come.
Praying at a mosque on any day other than Friday was extremism; so was attending Friday prayers outside their village or having Quranic verses on their phones.
While instructors watched, those who confessed to such behaviour were told to repeat over and over: “We have done illegal things, but we now know better.”
Bekali is out of China now and he intends to tell his story to the world.
But recently in China, the police took his sister, Adila Bekali. A week later, on March 19, his mother Amina Sadik was led away. In early April, Bekali called his father, Ebrayem. He told Bekali to take good care of himself as if to bid farewell before the inevitable.
Now, what is imminent is the ultimate ill-treatment of the remaining members of the family. And thousands probably lakhs like Bekali in what is being termed as the largest ‘prison’ of the world.