History Repeats


Sarah Neal

This image shows the pages of a history textbook depicting the holocaust. An image of the Uighur camps today shows the similarities of the two camps (Photo courtesy of Sarah Neal).

Between 1941 and 1945, Jewish people from all around Europe were detained in concentration camps run by the Germans. Over six million people of all ages, genders, and birthplace were killed in gruesome ways. DW stated that last year Auschwitz saw over 2.1 million visitors. Visitors could view the barracks that Jewish people were forced to live in, the cattle cars they traveled in, the piles of shoes, clothes, and hair collected, and the gas chambers used to kill the prisoners deemed too young, old, or too sick to work. Now, Germany teaches about the Holocaust in schools because the country refuses to repeat its dark history. There are even laws against denying that the Holocaust took place. The country does everything in its power to make sure people are aware of these camps and their horrors. However, similar camps have shown themselves in China almost 80 years later. The country wants the world to stay in the dark about the Muslim Camps and, unfortunately, they are succeeding. 

“I don’t think I know any more than four or five people who know about the camps,” said Hillcrest junior Bella Graulau, “I don’t accept that China is trying to cover it up. This is an important human rights issue that needs to be addressed.”

In the Xinjiang region, China has created a vast network of detention centers for the Uighur Muslims over the past two years. Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told The New York Times that the Uighurs have suffered from “simply put, genocide” at the hands of China’s government. Independent says that Muslim women whose husbands have been sent to the camps are supposedly being forced to share a bed with male government officials. These government workers have been assigned to monitor the families in their homes. 

“I think the fact that the Chinese Government is actively trying to keep their activities regarding the matter a secret goes to show how unethical their practices are,” Hillcrest senior Jacob Nelson told the Bengal Beat.

The detention centers in the Xinjiang region are for re-education, China says to PBS. However, inside the camps, Uighur Muslims are forced to go through over 10 hours of classes. These classes were set to change the Uighurs’ religion, beliefs, and mindsets. PBS got an interview with Abdulsalam Mohammed, a man who escaped the centers. He told the network that “what the Chinese call schools for reeducation are actually prisons for brainwashing.” Mohammed continues to tell about life in the camps, stating that “every day, they’d toss [them] a little bread and water, so that [they] didn’t die, and, every day, they would interrogate 15 or 20 of [them] with unbearable brutality.”

“The Uighur Muslims are going through so much and so little people know about it. The most important thing is for people to take action and help create a positive change so that we can put an end to this genocide. It’s disgusting to see 196 countries stand by and watch millions of people who belong to the second-largest faith in the world get killed, raped, and abused,” says Shahd Abdeladl, a student at Greenville Technical College.

Events like this have continuously appeared throughout history. Genocides have been presented in many different cultures and countries, such as the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 or the Armenian genocide in the early 1900s. 

“The same thing has happened in any past circumstance where a group in power sought to create a more homogenous state through another culture. Native Americans had similar programs to ‘Americanize them.’ The Germans sought to remove minorities from their entire population. The Spanish inquisition is another example,” said Nelson. 

There have been many different genocides throughout the centuries, and it’s insane that similar events are still happening in 2019, where there is a surplus of media that could cover the centers in Xinjiang. Middle schools and high schools teach about the world’s dark history. The Holocaust is part of the curriculum in not only history but also in English in American high schools. However, even the Turkish government was trying to deny the persecution of Uighur Muslims. Now, they have broken their silence and denounced China for violating the rights of Uighur Muslims according to The Diplomat. The camps have been enforced over two years, and Turkey broke its silence on February 9th, 2019. This makes Turkey one of the few Muslim countries to go on record to denounce the Chinese government for the mass detention centers. 

“I think that the other countries helping cover it up are helping aid the mass murder of millions of Muslims. The biggest issue is that Turkey is a Muslim country. They are helping kill their own people, which is hypocritical and immoral. Even if the country is not Muslim and they help cover this up, it is definitely a huge moral issue that needs to be stopped,” adds Abdeladl

Even in interviews with NBC, the Chinese government didn’t answer many questions about the camps. China wants the world to stay quiet, but coverage on the news and social media could change that. It’s up to us to spread this issue like wildfire.