China’s Suppresion Against Millions of Muslim Minorities

25 million ethnic minorities face harsh social, political, and religious pressures from the Chinese government, further causing the detainment of a million civillions living in secluded facilities.

Francisco Seco

Ethnically Turkish Uighurs, a Muslim minority living in China, actively protesting about the current detainment of Uighurs in China’s “re-education” camps. Source:

Currently, millions of Muslim minorities living in China face harsh discriminatory policies. One notable policy includes the use of internment camps, which now have detained over a million civilians. The targeted camps primarily comprise of ethnic Uighurs, a Turkish-Muslim minority that occupies the majority of the Xinjiang province. 

Through the use of satellite technology, foreign investigators have concluded the existence of at least a thousand detention camps spread throughout China’s northwestern provinces. 

Inside the detainment facilities, civilians endure humanitarian violations and poor living conditions. Reported by Uighurs who have escaped, the camps allegedly coerce Muslims to learn mandarin, renounce Islam and pledge loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC). 

A leaked image of Chinese soldiers physically restraining interned Muslim civilians. Source: 

Failure to comply with the rules will result in detainees receiving physical or mental abuse. Under the claims of humanitarian violations happening in the Chinese facilities, many women described undergoing forced abortions as well as the implementation of contraceptive measures. 

The Chinese government has actively refuted accusations of human rights violations under their camps, claiming the institutions as “re-education centers” where the facilities teach valuable lessons to Muslim minorities.

The camps are allegedly been instituted to deal with national security issues. According to official statements released, the policy aims to minimize terrorist threats and religious extremism. Most detained civilians, though, have been targeted solely for having Muslim beliefs. 

Due to the abrupt procedures which populate the camps, innocent families are split apart from each other, separating parents from children. When questioned, police workers are even given a script to read off of. 

 “It is just that their thinking has been infected by unhealthy thoughts,” the script said. “Freedom is only possible when this ‘virus’ in their thinking is eradicated and they are in good health.”

The script represents China’s push for social and religious reformation of the ethnic Muslims. Even though there is clear religious suppression inside detainment camps, the undetained Muslim civilians still face the discriminatory effects of regional political laws. 

“What they are trying to do is assimilate the Uighur people,” said Mustafa Aksu, a program coordinator at the Uyghur Human Rights Project.

Subsequently, local governments have outlawed wearing veils in public and growing long beards, both of which are customs associated with the Islamic religion. Naming babies after traditionally Islamic names, such as Mohammed or Medina, is also strictly prohibited. 

Additionally, officials frequently close down mosques, claiming that the buildings are infrastructurally unsound. By reinforcing communist values and denouncing religious ways, the government hopes to forge a new secular generation of Muslims that will be easier to control under China.  

Furthermore, the CPC has enacted policies to promote Han Chinese migration into the Xinjiang region where most Muslims, like the ethnic Uighurs, reside. The Han Chinese make up the nation’s majority. Therefore, from increasing the traditional Chinese population, the government attempts to dilute Islamic influences and strengthen national political autonomy over the Muslim people. 

Contrarily, political power isn’t the only thing China is looking to gain. The nation also wants to ensure the safety of their economic prospects. 85% of China’s cotton export comes from the Xinjiang province, exporting cotton to dozens of countries worldwide. Along with the economic value, Xinjiang plays a key part in the commencing Belt and Road initiative. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to build a road that connects from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The new transport system will foster trade industries between European and Asian countries. The Xinjiang province rests on the part of the land that bridges China to other countries. Consequently, consolidating power amongst the Muslims who live in the vital land is crucial to the Chinese. 

Ethnically Turkish Uighurs protest China’s detainment of over a million Uighurs, while also urging the United Nations to take action. Source:

Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Human Rights Chief and other UN countries formally condemned China’s human rights abuses. The European Union urges China to respect the religious freedom of Muslims. 

Nevertheless, China seems unmoved and unlikely to change its stance on the suppression of Uighurs and other Muslim civilians.