Why you should know about the educational camps in China

Alixe Cecchini ‘23

Recently there was a video on Tik Tok spreading awareness about educational camps in China, but the video was taken down. There is speculation that it was taken down because Tik Tok is a Chinese company and they didn’t want the video to be posted. 

I was able to see the video before it was taken down and I was surprised because although I follow the news, I had no idea what the video was talking about. I learned that more than one million different Muslim minority groups are being detained in the camps.

China calls them “thought transformation camps.” The camps are giant secured facilities, in which people are susceptible to brainwashing.  CBS reports that with every interview a Chinese government official was there to watch. 

The Muslim minority groups are made to learn Chinese and recite laws restricting religious practices. The camps have internal security fencing and watchtowers. CBS reporters share that China has made some camps look less like prisons so they don’t raise concern to people. 

A good thing to know is that the Chinese government is run under a Communist society. The people are not guaranteed rights like freedom of speech or religion and the Communist leader is Xi Jinping. 

After looking into this topic, I saw there is a lot of debate because the Chinese government says the camps are to prevent terrorist attacks, but in reality, the camps are made up of Muslims minority groups. They have been targeted because they were praying in public or wearing a hijab in public. These people are not terrorists or extremists like you would think you would find in the camps based on the description of what the Chinese government has portrayed them.

 The reason people have found out about these camps is that a document was leaked by an unknown source. On November 16, 403 pages of internal documents were shared with The New York Times and journalists Austin Ramzy and Chris Buckley wrote an article on the translated documents.

Things that were in the document that raised concern to people reading it: “Students were to be told that their behavior could either shorten or extend the detention of their relatives.” This, in my opinion, is bribery and trying to get every person to obey by fear which should never be put upon innocent people. 

The document also stated: “Family members, including you, must abide by the state’s laws and rules, and not believe or spread rumors,” officials were told to say. “Then can you add points for your family member, and after a period of assessment they can leave the school if they meet course completion standards.”  This again spreads fear in people to not question anything and just obey even if it’s wrong. 

To me, the worst part of the leaked document is when it states: “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts” and “Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.” I feel like these falsehoods are so degrading saying there’s a virus in their heads because they are Muslim and they can only be free when “it’s” gone. In my opinion, everyone should be able to practice the religion they wish as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. This makes me so sad to see that people are being put in “educational camps” for practicing the religion they want.

People need to know about this atrocity because we can learn about what’s going on and use the knowledge to help change our world to make it better for people to feel safe. Also, even if you didn’t know,  you may know someone who is. It is a human right to be able to practice the religion you wish and caring for one another is something everyone should do and feel.