China’s gu­lag ar­chi­pel­ago

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

When re­ports be­gan fil­ter­ing out of China last year about a mas­sive in­doc­tri­na­tion and in­tern­ment drive against eth­nic Mus­lim Uighurs in the western re­gion of Xin­jiang, the gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing de­nied that any­thing was go­ing on. Later, China ac­knowl­edged that crim­i­nals and peo­ple who com­mit­ted mi­nor of­fenses might be sent to “vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion” cen­ters there.

Now, the regime has gone a step fur­ther, re­vis­ing a re­gional law to ad­mit the dark re­al­ity: An ar­chi­pel­ago of con­cen­tra­tion camps has been built.

China has long used harsh pe­nal sys­tems for dis­si­dents and po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers. One branch, known as “lao­jiao,” or “re-ed­u­ca­tion through la­bor,” ex­isted out­side the reg­u­lar pri­son sys­tem. Peo­ple were sent to re-ed­u­ca­tion by pub­lic se­cu­rity agen­cies with­out trial or le­gal pro­ce­dure; it was widely used for dis­si­dents and petty crim­i­nals.

Then, in 2017, China be­gan rapidly erect­ing a “re-ed­u­ca­tion” sys­tem aimed at the restive Uighur pop­u­la­tion and other Mus­lim mi­nori­ties, in­clud­ing Kaza­khs. Like the ear­lier ver­sion, the new in­car­cer­a­tion sys­tem was to be ex­tra­ju­di­cial: no due process, no rule of law. The scale is huge; there are now more than 1 mil­lion Uighurs and oth­ers in­car­cer­ated, or 11.5 per­cent of the Uighur pop­u­la­tion of Xin­jiang be­tween ages 20 and 79. There may be as many as 1,200 fa­cil­i­ties.

A re­gional law on “de-ex­trem­i­fi­ca­tion” was is­sued in 2017 at the out­set of the Xin­jiang roundup. But now, Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have re­vised it, and ac­knowl­edged the ex­is­tence of the new gu­lag, though in opaque lan­guage. The goal, the re­vised law says, is to “carry out de-ex­trem­i­fi­ca­tion ide­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, and be­hav­ioral cor­rec­tions, to pro­mote ide­o­log­i­cal con­ver­sion of those re­ceiv­ing ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing, re­turn­ing them to so­ci­ety and to their fam­i­lies.” In other words, to brain­wash them.

The U.S.-China agenda is ad­mit­tedly tense over trade, North Korea and the South China Sea. But some­thing as brazen and dan­ger­ous as this calls for ac­tion. A good start would be for Congress and the ad­min­is­tra­tion to de­mand un­fet­tered in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tions in Xin­jiang, and to con­sider se­lected sanc­tions un­der the Global Mag­nit­sky Act against of­fi­cials who com­mit gross hu­man rights abuses—such as wip­ing out an en­tire peo­ple’s iden­tity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.