More than a million Uyghur Muslims are being detained in re-education camps in the region of Xinjiang, China. This has been continuing since 2017 and the government has forced people to be subject to surveillance, forced labor, religious restrictions, and forced sterilizations. In 2014, the Chinese government faced accusations of these re-education camps however there was no proof so no action was taken.This was kept under wraps for the first few years and only came to light in late 2019. Now the United States has blacklisted and sanctioned many officials that are connected to the camps and re-education in Xinjiang. In 2021, the acts being performed were constituted as genocide and crimes against humanity.
In re-education camps, forced labor is a part of daily life. Uyghur Muslims and other persecuted minorities are forced to do hard, manual labor of working cotton fields. Nearly ⅕ of the world's cotton supply has been grown or manufactured by these detainee camps. The Chinese government denies that these camps are harming people. They claim that the factories are part of a plan to alleviate poverty. It has been found that many UK companies have been linked to this forced labor. Companies such as Boohoo, H&M, TikTok, The North Face, and Nike are under investigation.
People living in or around Xinjiang are being religiously persecuted for Muslim practices, including growing beards or wearing veils. Nearly half a million Muslim children are being forced to denounce Islam and speak Mandarin after they are taken from their families. Women are being forced to be sterilized in these camps. This was done by the Chinese government to reduce the birth rates and reduce overpopulation. This has caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to drop by 24 percent last year.
So what can you do to help? First, you can donate or just sign petitions to bring into light what is happening. Here is a link to a general petition and the second link is for a petition that China does not host the 2022 Olympics. You can also share on social media. Use platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok to promote awareness and Advocacy groups such as Uyghur Human RIghts Project. You can participate in an action alert which is when you either write or tag the owner of the company and ask them to stop getting their cotton and supplies from these re-education camps. Here is a website that has a list of the stores that are supplied but the camps in Xinjiang. Finally, keep yourself educated on the updates of what is happening and understand how this mass genocide needs to be stoppped.