ELLA KELLEHER WRITES — Many are already aware of how the Uyghur people are interned at “reeducation” camps in Xinjiang, the Western province of China. Few realize, however, that ethnic Kazakhs have also been subjected to the same mass extermination and forced labor.
Mainstream media propagates that both ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs are interned in brutal internment camps because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) disapproves of the spread of Islam within its borders. While this is partially accurate, the principal cause of this cultural and ethnic genocide goes beyond religion. The Xinjiang province of China has historically been home to the Uyghurs, various tribes of Kazakhs, and other related Turkic peoples. All of these minority ethnic groups pose an existential threat to China’s claim on its western province.
On December 8th, Ersin Erkinuly, an ethnic Kazakh who was held in a camp in Xinjiang, was allowed the status of an asylum seeker in Ukraine. Erkinuly plans to move to Kyiv to start a new life in a small Kazakh community that awaits his arrival. Erkinuly is among many ethnic Kazakhs who had illegally crossed the China-Kazakh border and fled from Xinjiang. Erkinuly knew that if he was to be deported back to China, he would have face horrific punishment in one of the many “reeducation centers.”
As described by the famous “China Cables” document that was leaked in 2019, these “reeducation centers” make sure to:
• “Never allow escapes.”
• “Increase discipline and punishment of behavioral violations.”
• “Promote repentance and confession.”
• “Make remedial Mandarin studies [a] top priority.”
• “Encourage students to truly transform”
• “[Ensure] full video surveillance coverage of dormitories and classrooms free of blind spots.”
Currently, there are up to 2 million Turkic minorities detained in Xinjiang internment camps. Detainees are subject to mass rapes, mock trials, suspected drug experiments, and inhumane torture and confinement. Ethnic Kazakh families living in Xinjiang remain in the dark about the fate of their captive relatives. Even more tragically, many of these mourning parents, spouses, and children must abstain from open protest or public advocation for their loved ones’ release due to the risk of assassinations, kidnappings, and internment in the reeducation camps.