Chinese fill working camps with Muslim Citizens

A Chinese-Muslim woman named Sayragul Sauytbay illegally entered Kazakhstan this spring and was arrested and imprisoned for the act.  She was supposed to be deported back to China this summer, but instead will be staying as a political refugee in Kazakhstan. See, Sayragul had spent time in a Muslim-Prison camp in China prior to her escape across the border with her family to Kazakhstan.  Once captured, though, she spilled information on the many prison camps in Northwest China to Kazakh authorities, putting her at risk for execution if she ever returns to China.

This is some of the first public insight into the internment camps that populate Muslim-majority northwestern region of China known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.  The camps, which are officially referred to as “vocational training centers” by the Chinese government, are supposed to help prevent the spread of Islamic Fundamentalism.  It is feared hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens are held by their own government in these camps, and the US’s Congressional-Executive Commission on China claims that this series of camps constitute the “largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”. 

Xinjiang has endured a continuous separatist movement dating back to 1949 when it official became incorporated within the People’s Republic of China, and it is believed that these camps serve to quell this uprising and instill a sense of “nationalist pride” over religious identification.  Regardless of why the camps exist, no nation should be incarcerating their citizens simply for their religious beliefs.  I am glad to see bordering Kazakhstan potentially save this woman’s life by granting her refuge in their nation.  I also find it fascinating that Kazakhstan offers a fast-track citizenship program for ethnic-Kazakh Chinese citizens who flee Chine due to ethnic or religious persecution. 

Jake GavinComment